Water Supply: A Severe Water Crisis In Kenya

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In the far side of Africa lies a country that severely lacks a critical ingredient required for their survival. With an overcrowded population of 46 million and growing, the Kenyan water supply isn’t getting any better. Can you believe that 18.8 million Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while 27.1 million Kenyans use unimproved sanitation solutions? This experience is obvious in rural areas and urban slums. For decades, water scarcity has been a major issue in Kenya, caused mainly by years of reoccurring droughts, poor management of water supply, contamination of the available water supply and a sharp increase in water demand resulting from moderately high population growth. The lack of rainfall affects the ability to acquire food and has led to eruptions of violence in Kenya.

Everyday life for Kenyans is so harsh it would be the equivalent to a living crisis. Imagine having to spend a third of your day to fetch enough water for you and your family. You would also need to factor in the scorching weather. This laborious work leaves half the populace vulnerable to serious dangers. In addition to the exposure to the elements and risk of attack by predators, the water they accumulate may also possess water-borne diseases. Rural areas of Kenya are left without water and urban areas aren’t much better off, as Kenya’s virtually bankrupt government does not have the funds to run pumps and existing piping systems are often pirated and in dilapidation.

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Scientists have claimed that Kenya has been in a state of drought for 11 years and this affects their economy as well. Their exports are severely afflicted especially because their chief exports are highly water-dependent. Tea, their main export uses 30 to 70 litres per cup! So for a water scare country, tea is highly water-dependent in mass quantities. Farming, including tea, flowers and coffee exports account for close to a third of annual economic output. Kenya is poorer than the average of Sub-Saharan Africa, which stands out among the world regions as having made the least progress during the last 20 years.

The human populace throughout Kenya has been affected by a lack of clean drinking water due in large part to the overuse of land and increases in community settlements. Much of the progress in rural water access rates and the decreasing urban access rates can be attributed to rural to urban migration and rapid urbanisation.

Kenya’s water scarcity can be attributed to droughts, global warming, deforestation, poor management of water supply and population growth. Over the past decade, Kenya has experienced a severe drought due to global warming. This then affects Kenya’s crops and livestock and since most Kenyans rely directly or indirectly on agriculture. Famine can be the only result from this. The largest forest in Kenya, Mau, distributes water to six lakes plus eight wildlife reserves, and around 10 million people depend on its rivers. However, loggers have destroyed a quarter of Mau’s 400,000 hectares. The problem with deforestation is that it almost always leads to increased runoff, which has negative implications in both the rainy as well as the consequent dry season.

There is also an increased demand for funding and management of water resources because of Kenya’s ever-increasing population. Kenya’s water resources have been mismanaged through unsustainable water policies, laws and businesses, weak water allocation methods, increasing pollution, and increasing degradation of rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers and their catchments.

To the cessation of justification for Kenya’s water scarcity, Kenya suffers from a severe water crisis due to multiple causes, including droughts, forest degradation, floods, deficient water supply management, the contamination of water and population growth. While problems like forest degradation, poor water management and the contamination of water are potentially solvable, the cruelty of drought is due to the ongoing climate change likely to increase in the foreseeable future.


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