World Water Day is marked globally on 22ND March every year. It is a day to celebrate water and find ways
of making a difference in the lives of the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. It is also a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future as we act on water issues.
Water is a valuable resource especially in the 21st Century where it is referred to as ‘Blue Gold’. By efficiently exploiting this valuable resource we make the water cycle work better for every living thing and at the same time help achieve the sustainable Development Goal 6 target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse.
This year’s theme Water and Wastewater focuses on the need to reduce wastage of wastewater by finding ways of treating then reusing it. KEWASNET marked this day by having celebrations in four Counties: Nyamira, Mombasa, Taita Taveta and Tharaka Nithi.
The National World Water Day 2017 was celebrated in Nyanza Region, Nyamira County Borabu Sub County at Macheo Secondary School. The event was graced by the Cabinet Secretary Hon. Eugene Wamalwa, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Prof. Fred Sigor and other dignitaries from the National Government, County Governments, Water Service Boards, Water Companies, Development agencies and Civil Society Organizations: KEWASNET, World Vision, UNESCO, KHRC, KIWASH, GIZ and others.
Hon. Wamalwa in his key speech emphasized on challenges that are facing water sector including the current drought which is a national disaster. He added by stating that the National Government will continue building partnerships both with International agencies, donor agencies and County Governments to address the critical challenges:
He said to address the challenges Kenya as a Country will continue investing in construction of big dams to increase water supply both for industrial and domestic use.
The Cabinet Secretary said that the National Government has partnered with Dutch Government to construct Kshs.5.7 Billion Bonyunyu Dam in Nyamira expected to serve over 470,000 beneficiaries. The only challenge was space which he called upon the residents to provide but with compensation. He then commissioned Macheo Community Water Project in Borabu.
Principle Secretary, State Department for water Prof. Fred H. Segor mentioned that the ongoing drought should be declared a national disaster. Counties like Turkana and Baringo are extremely dry regions which do not get access to safe and quality water as mandated by the Sustainable Development Goals. The citizens have a constitutional
right to access safe and quality water that should be provided by the national Government. He further advised farmers not to encroach the riparian land Banks while emphasizing on proper management and reuse of water.
In his speech, he congratulated all institutions which manage waste water and emphasized on 3Rs: Reuse, Recycle and Renew.
BUILD UP ACTIVITIES
1. Rehabilitation of Macheo Community Water Project sponsored by LVSWSB.
2. Two Radio Talk Shows in Kiswahili and Dholuo sponsored by KEWASNET.
3. Road shows sponsored by LVSWSB
4. Newspaper Coverage (Daily Nation Pg. 57 on 22nd March 2017)
5. Printing of IEC Materials sponsored by KIWASH, KWAHO, LVSWSB and Ministry of Water and Irrigation.
6. Entertainment from local groups and school children.
Coast Region celebrations were in Mombasa county and Taita Taveta county. In Taita Taveta, KEWASNET joined the Taita Taveta County Government and other Civil Society Organizations at Njoro Maasai ground. The event was graced by the Department of Water and Taita Taveta County Government. Civil Society Organization present included the Kenya Red Cross, Maji na Ufanisi, World Vision, Kenya Coastal Development Programme, Taita Taveta, Coast Water Board, WASH Network and Local Community Based Organizations. Other government organizations represented in the event included National Management Authority, National Drought Management Authority, Tavevo Water and Sewage Company and Kenya Forest Service Residents of the area attended in big numbers. The main activities included addressing the local community on the importance of preserving their wetlands, planting trees and managing their waste water. A tree planting exercise took place in the wetland as a demonstration of this.
In Mombasa, KEWASNET brought together Civil Society Organizations to stage a peaceful demonstration from Uhuru Gardens which culminated in presenting a memorandum to the department of Water, Mombasa County Government. The demonstrating Civil Society Organizations had banners with logos of participating organizations, placards and empty buckets. The placards had relevant messages like water is life, our water our right, water budget 1%? more budget allocation to water now among others. There was a memorandum in which the civil society organizations asked the County Government of Mombasa to ensure:
- That the percentage budget allocation for next year’s budget for water and sanitation be increased to at least 10% of the total budget.
- That the board of directors at MOWASCO embraces the spirit of public participation and conduct it more frequently for the public to understand issues in water for them to participate in problem solving.
- Elaborate to the public on any on-going or finished projects on water that are either county or donor funded to enable the public to appreciate the efforts being put into place.
- That the county come up with a quick fix to the perennial water shortage to enable residents of this city live a dignified life.
- That the deficit of water supply is immediately increased to at least a half of the required supply daily to cushion residents from time wasting and financial losses catalyzed by water the deficiency.
Tharaka Nithi County hosted Nairobi region’s celebration. The event was well graced with students, staff from local schools, residents as well as county government officials and their representatives. The officials included, Tharaka South Public Health Officer, Chiakariga Ward Public Health Officer, Town Administrator, Tharaka South Sub County Administrator, Chiakariga Ward Administrator, Education Representatives and KEWI Campus principal. As part of the celebrations, there was WASH as well as Menstrual Hygiene Management forums. Here, participants were sensitized on basic hygiene practices. Interactive sessions involved pupils answering simple questions on hygiene including when to and how to wash their hands, diseases likely to be brought about by poor hygiene practices among others. The sessions were conducted by KECAP group with each session taking about 15-20 minutes. Football matches were played as part of
Football for WASH programme. The ladies match saw Chiakariga Girls win against KEWI campus, while in the men’s match, local KIJABE All-stars men lost to KEWI.
All the speakers of the day stressed on the need to work towards proper water utilization and best hygiene practices. However, there was an outcry and an appeal to the government to ensure that Chiakariga area does not face major water problems in the coming years. Of interest, was a remark by Mr Odanga from KEWI who said this year’s theme was way ahead of Chakariga resident. In his view, the residents do not have enough water to use, therefore find it hard to conceptualize the notion of wastewater management. However, KEWASNET representative Mr. Benedict told the participants that the little water they have, if managed well can be recycled and reused. He said that there are innovative ways to achieve that, adding that South Africa has already tried used water recycling and it’s working. The public health officials present noted that inadequate water compromises sanitation and hygiene practices, hence welcomed the idea to have the area connected with water for better sanitation. The national government was commended for banning use of plastics as they were viewed as the biggest hindrances towards easy recycling of used water.
At KEWASNET, we aim to promote good governance in the Water, Sanitation and hygiene Sector and World Water Day is an avenue for us to showcase passion and expertise for the benefit of all. By holding these events in different regions countrywide, we hope to help educate and create the next generation of water stewards.