Africaqua CEO David Kuria makes a special address at the HLM2

Africaqua CEO David Kuria yesterday took to the podium at Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) to make a special address on ways in which governments can encourage and support inclusive business to scale and contribute to the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Kuria was addressing thousands of investors, inventors, parliamentarians, heads of governments, ministers and other stakeholders attending the Second High-Level Meeting (HLM2) at KICC. Africaqua operates on an inclusive business mechanism where local community members who are the end users of our product (safe water) play an active role in the production, packaging, marketing, distribution and consumption of the commodity.

The 3 day meeting aims at amplifying the positive impact of development co-operation over the next 15 years.

Power to Improve Sanitation Standards Lies with us

Sanitation is a major priority in the world development agenda. It is an issue that has been addressed in the sustainable development goals launched in 2015, where the target is to ensure that every Kenyan has access to improved sanitation by 2030.

Toilets have a great role to play in stimulating the economy of a country, improving health standards as well as protecting and upgrading the dignity of people, especially women and girls.

Poor sanitation usually causes stress to women and girls, and this exposes them to more risks as they try to look for places where they can relieve themselves. Some of them have been sexually assaulted, leaving them with deep wounds in their hearts; wounds that are difficult to heal. They have also been exposed to serious health hazards.

The issue of poor sanitation is not only a national disaster, but an international nightmare mainly facing the third world countries. Although governments and Non-Governmental Organizations like World Health Organization are trying to curb the problem, there is a lot that is yet to be done.

Image showing garbage dumped in a river. Photo Credit: Google

Image showing garbage dumped in a river.
Photo Credit: Google

Currently, 2.4 billion people in the world lack improved sanitation, with one out of ten people opting for open defecation due to lack of toilets (World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF, 2015). The open defecation exercise is a serious issue that has to be challenged by all means possible.

Mostly, people living in unimproved settlements commonly referred to as slums practice open defecation, and this has exposed residents to serious diseases like diarrhea, cholera and others. This has mostly affected children and women.

According to a research by WAS-Hwatch, 2016, diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year. This is a huge loss, bearing in mind that there are other challenges posing threat to the lives of children and humankind at large.

Poor sanitation also has negative impact on the economy as it reduces the productivity of the people. Those suffering from sanitation related illnesses are unable to work well and this costs countries a lot in terms of medication and also people being unable to engage in any development activities. This costs countries up to 5% of GDP (Hutton 2012)

As we approach the D-Day; November 19, 2016 when the whole world will be marking the World Toilet Day, I only have one hope; that conferences and forums being held all over the world to mark this auspicious occasion will come up with a solution to curb poor sanitation nightmare. We have the resources, we have the skills and we have full potential to ensure that everyone in the world has access to proper sanitation.

David Mwaura, Communications Officer-Africaqua

African cities must confront climate change

Public-private cooperation on a local as well as international level can help African cities play a key role in tackling climate change, argues David Kuria, Eco Ambassador and head of Kenyan social enterprise Africaqua.

Nearly 200 countries will convene in Marrakech on Monday to advance progress made on the Paris Agreement on climate change. The journey from Kyoto to Morocco offers relief, and hopes of a better Africa – and especially sub-Saharan Africa. But these hopes must be accelerated if we are to make sense of a fast-changing African urban landscape.

Africa’s population – currently 1.2 billion – is predicted to double by 2050, and reach 4.2 billion by 2100. Plagued by poverty, political instability, food insecurity and fast-growing, unplanned cities, Africa must be proactive in setting a new narrative.

Africa and its leadership must ask – and attempt to answer – hard questions. Do we mitigate or follow adaptation? Africa still has opportunities for mitigation rather than adaptation. But COP22 must be bold enough to provide solutions that are practical, immediate and realistic.

We have witnessed two decades of lack of substantial action by transnational networks on climate adaptation, poor leadership, little financial allocation for infrastructure system change, and an absence of practical support for fragile urban ecosystems in sub-Sahara Africa.

Last month, another major UN conference outlined some of the challenges the continent faces. The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Ecuador addressed issues of sustainability, and especially the urgent need to change our consumption patterns and implement an ecological approach to urban planning.

The city is an increasingly important site for climate response. While there remains much debate over the exact contribution cities make to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as who and what is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the New Urban Agenda adopted at Habitat III regards urban centers as a vital part of the global response to climate change.

Mathare slum, Nairobi: Africa's huge informal settlements posing special challenges for green urban planning.

Mathare slum, Nairobi: Africa’s huge informal settlements posing special challenges for green urban planning.

In Kenya, our urban ecosystem remains very delicate. A growing urban population, expanding urban slums and a lack of basic services in informal settlements, are a recipe for climate chaos.

In Nairobi, 60 percent of residents live on just 8.7 percent of the city’s land, mostly in informal settlements in the city’s most fragile areas, such as flood plains, steep slopes, river valleys, or adjacent to sewers or dumpsites. As these settlements expand, the quality and quantity of fresh water used for domestic purposes is drastically reduced, and the risk of epidemics rises.

To tackle this challenge and protect the population’s health, we need appropriate laws and practical models that offer solutions by improving governance, reducing waste and ensuring water rights for those living in poverty.

Africaqua is providing just that – piloting collaborative projects to strengthen Kenya’s safe water value chain offers relief to the “last mile” population through innovation in water treatment, packaging, distribution and health monitoring.

A social enterprise model such as this, bringing together government agencies and corporate and civil players, also offers a way forward for urban climate action.

Addressing climate change requires an unprecedented level of cooperation and commitment, not only between countries, but also between different levels of government and the private sector. We must save our cities, and secure a future for the next generation. This cannot wait any longer.

 

David Kuria is a project management PhD researcher and CEO of Africaqua. He is also a 2016 Eco Ambassador for Eco@Africa and 2015 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.

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