Limited funds to blame for counties health woes

Western Kenya governors are railing against the Government for the poor status of the health sector in their counties.

The governors say limited funding of their counties coupled with delayed disbursement of funds by the national government was greatly affecting the health sector. Health is a devolved function managed by county governments but it relies on funds from the national government. Acknowledging the challenges, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia asked the county governments to allocate more funds to the health sector to address the challenges they face.

Speaking in Busia during the World Malaria Day, Mr Macharia said lack of funds, even at the national level, was the main challenge facing the health sector. “We have limited finances and resources to deal with numerous challenges in health but out of your allocations, set aside more funds to improve the sector,” he said. Macharia said the national government will continue to partner and support county governments in handling the health sector.
Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Busia counties have experienced challenges in the sector ranging from medical staff going on strike over salary delays, lack of drugs, medical facilities and shortage of health workers.
Kakamega Health Executive Peninah Mukabane said the county has a shortage of 2,500 medical staff with some health centres lacking enough facilities. “We had a shortage of 3,000 health workers, we have hired 500 and we are now faced with a shortage of 2,500 workers. Some health centres lack laboratories and facilities to test some diseases,” said Dr Mukabane. She said most health facilities in her county are not well supplied with drugs because of limited funds.

Why water is more than life in Kenya

The adage water is life has been used so long it never evokes any emotions. It has been recited endlessly by young ones entertaining dignitaries at functions and hammered days on end in schools.
It passes as another construction of a sentence. Yet the symbolism and meaning behind it holds so much weight for the over 40 million Kenyans now more than ever. For a country that relies heavily on agriculture, not just for feeding its people but for growing the economy and providing her people with jobs, water is not something, it is everything. Yet its dwindling supplies have been christened the biggest catastrophe of the 21st century, with the reality of dried wells and barren lands all too bare. See also: Water provision top priority for Nandi
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Experts have warned that water wars, now being witnessed, will be bigger than anything we have ever seen. A report documented by Waterlight Africa, a think tank on habitation and natural resources, opines that water refugees will overtake traditional war refugees in Sub Saharan Africa in the next 20 years. In Kenya there are already tell-tale signs. The newly devolved county governments are feeling the heat as different counties scramble for major water catchment areas. Traditionally resources were shared among the citizens.
But county governments, keen on securing key resources with the aim of enticing investors are demarcating boundaries which are fanning inter- county squabbles. This is especially on water towers as most of the people in the counties are farmers. Demand for water by livestock and for irrigation means even the water towers are struggling to meet the growing demand.
-The Standard

Why water is more than life in Kenya

The adage water is life has been used so long it never evokes any emotions. It has been recited endlessly by young ones entertaining dignitaries at functions and hammered days on end in schools. It passes as another construction of a sentence. Yet the symbolism and meaning behind it holds so much weight for the over 40 million Kenyans now more than ever.

For a country that relies heavily on agriculture, not just for feeding its people but for growing the economy and providing her people with jobs, water is not something, it is everything. Yet its dwindling supplies have been christened the biggest catastrophe of the 21st century, with the reality of dried wells and barren lands all too bare.

Turkana Water

Experts have warned that water wars, now being witnessed, will be bigger than anything we have ever seen. A report documented by Waterlight Africa, a think tank on habitation and natural resources, opines that water refugees will overtake traditional war refugees in Sub Saharan Africa in the next 20 years. In Kenya there are already tell-tale signs.

The newly devolved county governments are feeling the heat as different counties scramble for major water catchment areas. Traditionally resources were shared among the citizens. But county governments, keen on securing key resources with the aim of enticing investors are demarcating boundaries which are fanning inter- county squabbles. This is especially on water towers as most of the people in the counties are farmers. Demand for water by livestock and for irrigation means even the water towers are struggling to meet the growing demand.

Water provision top priority for Nandi

Provision of piped water that is safe for domestic consumption and irrigation is a priority area the Nandi County administration has passionately pursued and is currently implementing across its territory.
The county is gradually allocating funds for the implementation of water projects, with Sh250 million allocated in the last financial year. Governor Cleophas Lagat says another Sh400 million has been allocated in the current financial year and he expects to channel another half million next year. MUCH GUSTO “I am passionate about water provision. I have embarked on it with much gusto. I hope by 2017, we will have many households with clean piped water,” says Mr Lagat.

The governor also says the opening of the first ever public university in Nandi Hills, named in honour of colonial hero Koitalel arap Samoei, is a landmark project. “In the long run we will have campuses in each of the six constituencies of the county.” The county recently concluded a three-day inaugural investment conference where local and foreign investors agreed to pump in Sh3.97 billion, expected to create more than 10,000 jobs. Lagat observes that the county has potential in dairy farming and will be urging farmers to increase their milk output as the administration plans to put up milk plants for value addition.
-The Standard

Kenya: Water Board Begins to Build Murang’a Tunnel

The Athi Water Services Board has been accused of starting the construction of Northern Water Tunnel without clear guidelines by the stakeholders.

Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura said the board is acting with impunity by constructing the water tunnel.

He said the tunnel will draw water from Gikigie, Maragua and Irati rivers in Murang’a county.

Kembi was speaking in Murang’a town. “I wonder why the Athi Water Services Board has gone contrary to an order by environmental tribunal which barred the construction until all parties come into consensus,”argued Kembi.

He said local leaders in consultation with officials of the board and representatives from Nairobi county agreed to constitute a technical committee to assess the impact of the project

but the report has not been released and discussed by the parties.

Kembi said the project was stopped after some engineers from the county moved to court seeking consultations and assessment on the water tunnel funded by World Bank at Sh6.4 billion.

The Athi Water Services Board has been accused of starting the construction of Northern Water Tunnel without clear guidelines agreed upon by all stakeholders.

Murang’a senator Kembi Gitura said the board is acting with impunity by constructing the water tunnel which will draw water from three rivers in Murang’a County as the stakeholders are still waiting for report by technocrats on social impact of the project.

Kembi who spoke in Murang’a town said the local leaders in consultation with officials of the board and representatives from Nairobi county government agreed to constitute a technical committee to assess the impact of the project and up to now ,the report has not been released and discussed by the parties.

He said the project was stopped after some engineers from the county moved to the court seeking consultations and assessment about construction of the water tunnel funded by World Bank at a tune of Sh. 6.4 billion.

“I wonder why the Athi Water Services Board has gone contrary to an order by environmental tribunal which has barred the construction of the tunnel until all parties come into consensus,”argued Kembi.

 

-The Star

Kenya to host global water sports tournament

Kenya’s efforts to make a name for itself as a water sports destination got a major boost after it was confirmed the country would host the February 2017 Virgin Kite Surf World Championship in Watamu.
This follows Watamu’s recognition as one of the top water sports destinations in the world, according to travel consultants TripAdvisor. Ben Kaliher, who works at Tribe Water Sport Resort, which is an affiliate of the Wonders of Watamu (WOW) marketing initiative, some of the commitments tourism stakeholders in the coastal town have received for the upcoming games include construction of a judging tower along the eight-kilometre Watamu Beach, as well as expansion of existing accommodation facilities.
The world championships are sponsored by British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and already, 12 top-seeded kite riders have confirmed their attendance. “There has been a lot of interest in freestyle surfing, which in particular generates a huge global following due to the skills exhibited,” said Mr Kaliher.
Some of the water sports activities expected to take place at the world championships include wind surfing, kite surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, deep sea fishing, snorkeling and diving. Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said a global advertising firm will market Kenya’s coastal tourism on international TV networks ahead of the tournament. This, he said, was crucial in view of the negative publicity the country has received in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.
-Standard

Floods turn South C into a sea

The start of rains in Nairobi is slowly turning to be a nightmare for many city residents due to poor drainage.

Sunday night proved to be a real test for city dwellers and those who were on the roads after a heavy down pour that started at 6pm.

Vehicles got stuck in flash floods and the situation wasn’t any better Monday morning as some roads remained impassable.

PHOTO:cpaitalfm.co.ke

PHOTO:cpaitalfm.co.ke

To some, it was an opportunity to make quick cash as they used hand carts to carry people to elevated grounds or to bus terminus at a fee.

The Nairobi County Government has come under sharp criticism over the poor drainage which saw most city roads including those in the Central Business District flooded.

Areas worst hit by Sunday’s heavy downpour include sections of Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway, the Central Business District and a number of residential areas.

Residents of South C who were among those worst hit by the flooding, told Capital FM News that the problem is a norm every rainy season.

“This is a common problem here but its slowly escalating…we want the County Government to expand the drainage system since there are more houses that has come up,” Patrick Mwangi, a resident said.

Another one said, “this time the situation was worse…it happens but it has never been like this.”

They want the situation rectified saying the flooding also poses a major health risks if not checked.

“If the water is not drained in a few days, you can imagine the kind of mosquito that will breed in here,” another one who sought anonymity said.

-Capitalfm

Aspen Idea Festival, Spotlight:Health

Spotlight Health returns to Aspen, Colorado, on June 25-28, 2015, as the opening segment of the Aspen Ideas Festival. This year’s theme is Smart Solutions to the World’s Toughest Challenges. From Ebola, climate change, and genetically modified organisms, to cancer, personalized medicine, and death with dignity, we’ll take on these headline-blaring challenges, and look at the future-facing solutions coming from the fields of science, art, technology, and design.
spotlight health
The second annual Spotlight Health will again draw speakers and audience members from around the world to talk about the cutting-edge health issues of our times – last year’s inaugural brought together 900 people from 26 countries. Panels, presentations, conversations, and “deep dives” will fill 2-1/2 action-packed days and nights. Interactive activities, films, storytelling, the latest apps and other mobile tech tools for health, and a variety of special events will further engage and stimulate participants.
David Kuria, founder of Africaqua.org has been nominated by Andrew Quinn to be a scholar at Spotlight:Health.

Africa’s Unquenchable Thirst

By David Kuria, 2015 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow | 8 April 2015

The idea that water might become as contentious a resource as ivory, would have seemed far-fetched two decades ago, when the world signed the Millennium development Goals. But just last week the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan met in Khartoum to end a protracted dispute that has threatened to sour diplomatic relations among the three countries over Ethiopia’s construction of a hydroelectric dam on the River Nile.

David Kuria AfricAqua Founder

David Kuria AfricAqua Founder and 2015 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow

Egypt has staunchly opposed the diversion of the Blue Nile by Ethiopia since 2013, when former President Mohamed Morsi, insisted that Egypt would not allow any threats to its water security, going as far as to suggest that blood would be spilt if the Nile ‘loses one drop’ over the debacle with Ethiopia.

The new Nile agreement reached under the leadership of Egypt’s now President al-Sisi- who this week described the Nile as Egypt’s ‘source of life’ – coincides with the launch of the 2015 United Nations World Water Development Report which finds that the planet is facing a 40 per cent water shortage by 2030 unless water management is dramatically improved worldwide.

There are few countries where this predicted shortage is of greater concern than in Kenya – a country where water demand is almost double that of available supply, and where 60 per cent of the capital’s residents are already suffering from water shortages.

During a recent trip to a health centre in Nairegie Enkare, in Narok, Kenya, I witnessed some of the impacts of these current and predicated worsening water shortages first hand. A few shallow wells provide the only source of “fresh” water for the health centre in Enkare, but they are also used by the local community for drinking, feeding livestock, washing clothes and even bathing children and with over 100 donkey water vendors, all scampering to get a drop.

Amid the hustle and bustle around the wells I noticed an expectant mother – in the later stages of pregnancy – carrying 20 litre jerrycans to the maternity unit. On enquiry, I was shocked to learn that pregnant women are required to carry the water needed for the delivery of their own babies. The health center, which offers daily services to over 100 patients, depends on the mercy of unpredictable rain water for all its hygiene use, and therefore has little choice but to request patients to bring their own.

Africas unquenchable thirst

This is just one harrowing example of how the escalating threat of water insecurity is affecting the daily lives of people all over the country. The good news is that both nationally and internationally we are beginning to rethink our relationship with water.

In Kenya, The Water Act 2002 (currently under review) has led to the creation of pseudo private water companies, fully owned by the state. This has enabled more water revenues to be invested in water management to improve water supply, also resulting in the introduction of performance contracting and better alignment of donor aid and government funding to the sector.

As part of any new relationship with water, African and international governments should explore more innovative water access and delivery mechanisms that can spur greater investments in water management, as well as the adoption of new affordable technologies.

For example, the public private partnership (PPP) model which has worked so well in the telecoms sector is now being tested in the water sector with the recent launch in Kenya of Africa’s first ever Water Fund this month in Nairobi. The Water Fund is based on a successful PPP which is providing 50 million people with a secure water supply in North and Latin America. The fund, if successful, is set to raise millions of dollars for water conservation measures to protect Kenyans from escalating water and food insecurity.

For those who may argue that water privatization is a bad thing, my response is that the gradual privatisation of Kenya’s water services, beginning with the Water Reform Programs of 2000, has led to the establishment of the water service providers (wsp) in every municipality and in rural districts, with private commercial entities increasing water access in major towns like Nairobi.

However, much more needs to be done. With the new constitution giving counties jurisdiction over water services, they are under increasing financial pressure to maintain and increase access to water, something which will be made all the more difficult without significant injections of private capital. This is why the Water Trust Fund and development banks need to explore financing innovations including pre-financing, output based aid, and PPPs to boost investment in safe water. This would allow county governments to divert more public funds to the health, education and agricultural sectors where investment is also badly needed.

As the United Nations prepares to adopts a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, the state of Kenya’s, Africa’s and the world’s depleted and degraded water resources makes it clear, that we need to rethink our relationship with this precious resource, starting by devoting at least one goal to its future treatment. In doing so we need to look beyond the urgencies of drinking water and sanitation, to the entire water management cycle, including governance, water quality, wastewater management and the prevention of natural disasters.

No woman should have to carry the water needed for the birth of her own child. And no nation should go to war to make sure its citizens have something to drink. If private sector investment, research and innovation can help to ensure a future for water in Africa, then I for one can only applaud the efforts of all players to make the most life-sustaining resource on earth available to all.

 

About the Author:

David Kuria is a Ph.D Researcher on Project Management and CEO of Ecotact; He is a 2015  Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.