Water and Sanitation still a big challenge in Africa

Cold water being poured into a glass.

There is still a large population that fails to get reliable water and sanitation services in Africa, Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa says.

“Africa governments thus need to revise their budget allocation to water which also grapples with challenges of competing needs between individuals and other sectors especially in health, agriculture and industrialization,” he adds

Speaking during the official opening of the 18th African Water Association congress at the KICC recently, the CS observes that more focused funding has to be done and more options of investment have to be sought and innovative approaches have to be explored to achieve water security.

“Kenya’s budget allocation has increased from Ksh500 million (US dollar 5 million) to Ksh 45 billion (450 million US dollars) in ten years”, he says.

This he however confirms is not enough as 20 million Kenyans still lack access to clean water while more than 10 million have no access to sanitation.

Wamalwa further says governments need to invest in water infrastructure such as dams in order to reduce poverty.

“Water is a basic commodity in sustaining lives and remains inaccessible to majority of Africans. Africa should try to accomplish what is left of the MDG 6 on water and sanitation to ensure universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030,” he adds.

The CS notes that water has to be available also for food production, energy and domestic use adding that the government together with UNESCO is rolling out a three phase ground water mapping project to cover the whole country that will provide tools for planning and implementing water projects.

“In the Kenya Eradication of Poverty Survey 2009, 46 percent of the respondents cited provision of water access, crucial aspect to get them out of poverty”, Wamalwa says and urges the National and County Governments to support efforts for better provision of water services.

This conference, he notes brings together water sector and allied professionals and presents a platform that would derive practical solutions that emanate from challenges in provision of water and sanitation services.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero says that the government is striving to ensure all Kenyans have access to clean water and sanitation ahead of Kenya’s vision 2030 blueprint.

“This event creates the avenue to discuss the challenges African countries are experiencing and the solutions which can be impended to ensure that the entire population has sustainable amount of water”, he adds

Kidero calls upon African nations in the water and sanitation sector together with the private sector to avail resources and the required knowledge to achieve the related goals.

“Water sustainability cannot be achieved unless governments and those in the private sector work together”, he says.

Prof. Hamanth Kassan, President of the Africa Water Association notes that leaders and water professionals have the obligation and responsibility to rise over water and sanitation challenge by seeking, finding and creating innovative solutions in order to improve lives of all people.

The conference attracted over 1500 delegates from 81 countries and focused on issues of governance, performance and innovation.

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