In some communities in Kenya, water is a scarce resource and often a luxury. As Kenya marks World Water Day today, this is a rallying call to realise the water needs of marginalised groups.
Sadly, the lack of water in households and communities now threatens livelihoods, food security and human health.
We urgently need evidence-based investment decisions and a commitment to eliminate the inequalities to access drinking water. Kakamega County is an investment success story where this gap is being bridged.
The 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census shows that before devolution, 23.4 percent of the population in Kakamega relied on unprotected sources of drinking water such as lakes, ponds and dams.
Almost a decade later, the 2015/16 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey indicated that Kakamega was at 3.4 percent. When you take population growth into consideration, this is a significant achievement.
Kenya’s Vision 2030 has an ambitious target of ensuring universal access to water services by 2030, which closely reflects Sustainable Development Goal six that calls for sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Though Kenya has made good progress towards improving access to water supply over the last decade and a half, 33 percent of the population is still dependent on unimproved water sources. Besides, there are significant geographic and socio-economic inequalities in access to water.
Greater attention and continuous technical support to rural water supplies is needed to ensure functionality.
Innovations by the government in collaboration with water, sanitation and hygiene partners in implementing the FundiFix model in Kitui, the private operator model in Homa Bay, the service contracting approach for critical water supplies in Wajir and Kisii and the Rural Water Utility in Kakamega, aim at improving maintenance of rural water supplies.
These public private partnerships aim to provide a performance-based, sustainable models for maintaining all water supply infrastructure for communities, schools and health facilities.
The writer is Council of Governors Chairman and Kakamega Governor.