Greenwire/New York Times Examine Water, Sanitation In Kenya

Greenwire/New York Times examines how water “binds urban sanitation with energy, tourism, agriculture and other sectors throughout sub-Saharan Africa,” with a focus on Kenya’s “water woes.” Kenya’s problems have been compounded by changing weather, population growth, “volatile politics,” and cultural taboos around sanitation, the article states.

The story details how a drought late in 2009, led to inflated water prices in Nairobi and crop failures “even in the breadbasket region between Nairobi and Lake Victoria.” Heavy rains early in 2010 further exacerbated conditions for the people of Kenya. “Flooding in low-lying areas of the Great Rift Valley caused farmland destruction, death, displacement and disease in December and January,” the news service writes. USAID said that the number of Kenyans in need of emergency food assistance increased by 32 percent in a year.

“Kenya gets about 647 cubic meters of renewable fresh water per capita, but the number will to fall to less than half of that by 2025 if supply does not keep up with population growth, according to the Vision 2030 plan,” Greenwire/New York Times writes, noting several ways Kenya’s government plans to respond.

While it is “one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economies,” a small portion of Kenya’s “local sanitation authorities have sewage treatment and disposal facilities” and “[a]cross the region, more than half of the population lacks access to clean water and two-thirds lacks access to basic sanitation, according to U.N. data,” the article notes the challenges the water and sanitation ministries face when trying to compete for resources.

The article also examines several efforts underway to increase the public’s access to water and sanitation, including collaborations with the countries of Tanzania and Uganda and non-governmental agencies. It also includes quotes from African leaders and information on private sector initiatives to increase access to clean water and sanitation (Burnham/Gronewold, 5/4).

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