Deputy President William Ruto has called for concerted efforts to protect and preserve the country’s water catchment areas.
Dr Ruto said encroachment into water catchment areas has led to the drying up of most rivers in the country, putting many lives at risk.
The Deputy President asked all the agencies responsible for the management of water catchment areas to come up with a clear roadmap on how to protect such areas besides enhancing the country’s forest cover.
Speaking during the official opening of the 3rd Water Services Providers Association (WASPA) at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi, on Wednesday, Dr Ruto emphasized on the need to protect the environment by all means.
“All institutions charged with the responsibility of regulating the environment must ensure that the pollution of our water sources are curbed forthwith,” said Dr Ruto.
He added: “We should not condone pollution of our water sources especially situations where sewage waste is directed into our streams, rivers and lakes.”
Dr Ruto said the environment remains the bedrock of the country’s development since every sector of the economy depends on it and must therefore be guarded.
Present were Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu, Chief Administrative Secretary Winnie Guchu and chairman WASPA Daniel Ng’ang’a among others.
He said the successful implementation of the Big Four agenda- manufacturing, food security, health and housing largely depends on availability of water.
He asked the Ministry of Water and Sanitation together with the National Treasury and the county governments to strive to adopt innovative funding mechanisms to finance programs for the benefit of the people.
Dr Ruto said the perennial cycles of serious droughts, floods, drying of rivers, wells, springs and the lowering of the water table are attributed to the twin effects of climate change and destruction of forests.
To mitigate this problem, the Deputy President called on the need to implement article 69 of the Constitution that requires that ‘we grow our tree cover to 10 per cent of Kenya’s land’.
“Forests account for four percent of our GDP; much of our water, for domestic and industrial use, comes from the water towers – from Mt Kenya and the Aberdares in the East, to Mt Elgon and Mau in the West,” said Dr Ruto.
He said for the country to achieve universal water and sanitation coverage, both the county and the national government must set aside resources for the sector.
“The revenue generated by the Water Service Providers must be ring fenced and ploughed back to the sector for investment in last mile connectivity, asset renewal and extension of services to the areas that have not been served,” said Dr Ruto.
He said that the Government targets to achieve 80 percent water coverage by 2022 and universal access by 2030 through implementation of these projects.
In this connection, Dr Ruto urged the relevant ministries to ensure projects, which are meant to serve the people and improve their livelihood and economic status are given priority and are not delayed.
He praised the Ministry of Water and Sanitation for completing 40 water and sanitation projects in 28 counties now serving 4.3 million people since the President launched the Rapid Results Initiative.
He added that, eight projects have been started in seven counties that will serve another 1.2 million people by 2022.
Dr Ruto said it was impressive that several other projects have been started under a program supported by the Africa Development Bank, saying the program supports water supply infrastructure in 19 towns and sanitation in 17 towns.
Mr Chelugui said his ministry would continue to plan and implement the construction of large dams for water storage to enhance water security for domestic, industrial and agriculture use.
“My ministry in conjunction with the various players in the sector is supporting various agencies in developing sector standards and guidelines for use of various equipment and training programs and compliance to water quality and sanitation standards,” said Mr Chelugui.
Ms Guchu expressed concern that sanitation, mainly regarded as a household issue does not receive the same attention as water, saying there was need to reverse the trend.
She called for concerted efforts in mobilizing the necessary human and financial resources required for sanitation undertakings.