Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network joined other stakeholders and partners in the Water sector to celebrate World Water Day on the 22nd of March 2018 at Maswere Girls High School in Taita Taveta County.
The National celebrations was graced by the Cabinet Secretary for Water and Sanitation, Hon. Simon Chelugui, his Permanent Secretary, Mr. Joseph Irungu, the Governor of Taita Taveta County, Hon. Granton Samboja , his deputy and senior National and County Government officials in the Water Sector. The event also attracted a number of Civil Society Organizations in the Water and Sanitation Sector as well as individuals and companies in the private sector with keen interest on providing sustainable solutions for the numerous water challenges we face in the country.
The Continuous destruction of forests in Taita Taveta County has adversely affected water levels in Mzima and Njoro springs which act as the vital water sources for the coast region. Residents and officials in this County already fear that in the near future they may not enjoy the natural resources if the destruction continues. Guided by this background, the decision to have the celebrations in Taita Taveta could not have been any wiser as it perfectly fell in line with this year’s theme of Nature for Water. Therefore addressing these issues and how vital it is for us to protect our Natural Environment and Resources in an area that is directly affected would indeed carry the message home not only to the residents of Taita Taveta County but to Kenyans at large.
In his Key note speech, the Cabinet Secretary for water, Hon. Simon Chelugui emphasized on the importance of conserving and protecting our Natural Resources and Water catchment areas. He added that the Ministry was continuously working towards the progressive realization of Sustainable Development Goal 6 of Universal Access to Water and Sanitation for all. He noted that in three years’ time Kenya should move from 54% Coverage to 80% and that by the year 2030, the country should have 100% access to water and sanitation. Hon. Chelugui affirmed to the people of Taita Taveta County and the Country at large that his ministry was ready, willing and fully dedicated to work closely with County Governments to ensure that they deliver to the people of Kenya without any further delays.
He highlighted that the National Government and Taita Taveta County Government have kicked off plans to implement flagship water projects like the Mzima II and distribute water from Lake Challa and Njoro springs to lowland areas of Voi, Mwatate and Taita Sub Counties in a bid to alleviate the perennial water shortages in the County. He emphasized that this is a trend that would be replicated in all Counties under his leadership.
The Cabinet secretary reiterated that to achieve such major milestones would not be a walk in the Park and that it would need a collaborative approach between, Government the Civil Society and the Private Sector.
Taita Taveta Governor Hon. Granton Samboja shared his joy for hosting this National event noting that despite hosting several water sources such as Mzima Springs, Lake Challa and Jipe, Njoro Springs among others, the county suffers acute water shortage, noting that the event was therefore being marked at the right place and the right time.
He added that it was however regrettable that most of the Counties water catchments are drying up due to destruction of human activities and climate change. This according to the Governor is as a result of the escalated activities by farmers who have been encroaching water sources to farm at the river banks highlighting that logging has also been on the rise and that it had drastically affected the forest cover.
“As a measure to curb the worrying trend, County Governments are working with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in promoting initiatives geared towards restoration of forest cover to the threshold. This includes the formulation of a policy to control
Deforestation,” Stated the Governor.
From the speeches of the day, it was evident that conservation of our environment must be a coordinated collective effort, no organ can achieve this alone. That we all need to join hands in creating awareness on environmental conservation, protection and above all tree growing not just planting.
Story and Photos by: Benedict Erick Omondi