Egerton to host water conference

Egerton University will host the 41st international conference on availability and sustainable management of water organized by the Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) of Loughborough University.

The conference themed Transformation towards Sustainable and Resilient Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services scheduled for July 9th to 13th at Njoro main campus has attracted more than 400 delegates involved in research, policy formulation and management from over 40 countries.

We will have a High Level Political Forum (HLPF) which will consider Sustainable Development Goal number 6 that envisages availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all in detail. Key local and regional issues that impact on availability of water in East Africa will be dealt with in some topics of interest, noted Vice Chancellor Professor Rose Mwonya.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 is one of the 17 established by the United Nations in 2016 and aims for availability of clean drinking water and sanitation for everyone globally.

The SDG 6 has eight targets which are to be achieved by the year 2030.

Delegates will review progress made in expanding international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and re-use technologies.

United Nations (UN) is projecting a warning that by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

Currently, over 2 billion people globally are living in countries with excess water stress. Water stress is defined as the ratio of total freshwater withdrawn to total renewable freshwater resources above a threshold of 25 per cent.

Northern Africa and Western Asia experience water stress levels above 60 per cent, which indicates the strong probability of future water scarcity.

For over four decades, WEDC International Conferences have been jointly organized with partner institutions in Africa and Asia which are dedicated to the sharing of knowledge and the development of capacity in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) appropriate to local contexts and international good practice.

The 41st conference has been crafted to incorporate three days of presentation and discussion of peer reviewed content, with two days set aside for capacity development workshops.

The WEDC conference will explore the development achieved in implementing integrated water resources management at all levels.

It will also address protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene at every level, said the Vice Chancellor.

Professor Mwonya added protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity.

She said more international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries.

Organizers of the International Conference are alive to the statistics from the United Nations that indicate 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is contaminated with feaces while 2.4 billion others lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.

The grim statistics reveal that each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases worldwide.

Professor Mwonya touted the Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) as one of the world’s leading education and research institute for developing knowledge and capacity in water and sanitation for sustainable development and emergency relief.

A special feature of the WEDC International Conference is that a high proportion of delegates are usually from low- and middle-income countries, typically over 75 percent, observed the Vice Chancellor.

The participants are expected to address water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation that negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world.

Drought which afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition is also to be discussed.

A draft programme indicates that resource persons will make presentations on sanitation and wastewater, fecal sludge management, water treatment, water supply, solid waste management and urban drainage, climate change adaptation.

On the sidelines of the meeting, both local and international exhibitors will be afforded an opportunity to show case their latest developments, products, services and approaches relevant to the theme of the 41st international conference.

Participants at the international conference will address strategies that will help achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030, and access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all. Others are ending open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

It will further explore ways to improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

Other issues to be deliberated include measures to increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity by 2030 through the support and strengthening of the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

Source: Kenya News Agency