Kenyans urged to embrace nature-based solutions to address water challenges

All stakeholders in the water sector should explore nature-based solutions and semi-natural systems that will bring benefits to the man-made systems for management of water quality and availability.

The Davis & Shirtliff Chief Executive Officer, David Gatende said the restoration of forests, grasslands and natural wetlands, reconnection of rivers to floodplains and creating buffers of vegetation along water courses are some of the most critical measures the country has to undertake.

In a press statement sent to newsrooms on Thursday, Gatende said nature-based solutions, which include urban landscapes that involve the management of vegetation, soils and wetlands can provide innovative and cost-effective options for supplementing insufficient and ageing water infrastructure.

We need to take measures such as the construction of human-built reservoirs and dams for domestic use and irrigation, energy generation, and control of flooding as well as protection of wetlands, purification and treatment plants to mitigate water shortages, he said.

He noted that the country’s growing population continues to face water shortages with up to 41 per cent of Kenyans being forced to rely on unimproved water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers.

The CEO added that 59 percent of Kenyans use unimproved sanitation solutions, especially in the rural areas and the urban slums.

This shortage means that a large population of women and children in the rural areas spend up to one-third of their day fetching water for consumption and domestic use, he said, adding that it was a daunting task which leaves them exposed to risk of attack by predators, yet the available water was also susceptible to water-borne diseases.

He observed that water pathogens are a huge health problem in country thereby exposing people to epidemics such as cholera and parasitic worms. .

The rate of exposure is extremely high because the water is not only contaminated at the basins and pumps where water is collected but the containers are almost always recycled, often previously used for oil, fertilizer or wastes, said Gatende.

However, he commended government for the efforts it has undertaken to make the country to be water efficient, which he said has ensured that Kenya achieves sustainable water service delivery.

As the world celebrated World Water Day Thursday, UNESCO (2018) says that 1.9 billion people live in water-scarce areas.

Source: Kenya News Agency