Water, Sanitation and Environmental

Access to safe water and sanitation is a universal need and a basic human right. An insufficient access to water is not only bad for health, but also contributes to a poor food security and a lagging social development. Women and girls bear heavy burdens in providing water for their families and conflicts over water are increasing at local, regional, and international levels. The poor are particularly vulnerable to water scarcity, pollution, and flooding. Every year, news comes of human sufferings brought by floods in different parts of the country. In other periods, livestock are dying and people starving from a shortage of water.

Kenya has only 4 m3 stored water per person, as compared to 746 m3 for South Africa and 6,150 m3 for the USA. The country still depends on rain fed agriculture, as so far less than 5% of arable land is under irrigation. Unfortunately, and to compound the resource problems, loss of water catchments has been steadily destroying the resource base on which the whole country depends. Kenya is classified as a chronically water scarce country. 

In the year 2020, Kenya is projected to have just 359m3 water per person per year assuming a projected population of 56.5 million people. The per capita availability is projected to fall further to 235 m3 by 2025 and could be even less if the resource base continues to deplete. Water is becoming scarce because of the limited national endowment, the growing needs of a rapidly increasing population, and the serious degradation of water resources. In addition, Kenya is highly vulnerable to variability in rainfall. Droughts are now endemic and floods occur quite frequently.

Although only a small portion of the average annual rainfall infiltrates into the soil and recharges the ground water, it represents a considerable resource of generally good quality water that occurs everywhere in the country. Kenya’s socio-economic development is highly dependent on the availability of good quality and quantity water. Sustainable utilization, development and management of water resources are fundamental conditions for the achievement of long term socio economic goals.

 

Rainwater Harvesting in Siaya County 

Liganwa Primary School - water Tank Installation. This photo was taken at Liganwa Primary School where the water
tank types intended for school usage are demonstrated.

 

Rainwater harvesting

IDAP is currently involved in pilot projects on rainwater harvesting in many primary schools in the rural area of Siaya County. This includes Anduro, Pap Boro, Mulaha, Liganwa, Awelo, Lunjre, Bar Atheng’ and Ran’gala primary schools. Simply put, the project involves a number of techniques to accumulate rainwater, which results in clean water for drinking and washing. In addition to this, rainwater harvesting has been proven to; reduce downstream flood potential, reduce downstream water pollution, increase groundwater availability and ensure a constant flow in small channels. 

 

Aduwa Primary School - Water Tank Installation: This photo was taken at Aduwa School where water supply and
demonstrations were conducted using similar tanks.

 

Aduwa village rainwater harvesting project

Rainwater harvesting involves collection of precipitation on the roofs of buildings and other surfaces, which is either stored for later use or recharged to the ground aquifers. The water needs to be directed from the roof via gutters and conduits to a storage facility or another medium for ground water recharging. Through this simple technique one can meet all, or at least a substantial amount of one's need, from the free gift of nature. Rainwater is naturally soft and readily usable for many purposes. 

This installation at Aduwa Village demonstrated how villages with buildings constructed using corrugated iron roofs can harvest rainwater using these types of tanks. Harvested rainwater can be used for potable purpose with a simple filtering process. Rainwater harvesting has a strong environmental benefit, which justifies implementing such a system. 

By re-using rainwater, the demand is reduced on regions with already scarce water resources. The rainwater harvesting reduces the volume and velocity of runoff generated in specific areas. In turn, this reduces the potential for floods downstream. Reducing runoff volume and velocity also reduces the amount of pollutants from impervious surfaces entering downstream water-bodies.

 

 Aduwa Village - Water Tank Installation.

 

Sanitation and the Environment

Environmental pollution can take many forms. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the ground where we grow our food and even the increasing noise we hear every day - all contribute to health problems and a lower quality of life. IDAP has been striving to find out more about the environmental issues relating to pollution; what's being done on a global level, and what we can do in our community. For example, litter is more than an eyesore on city streets and alongside highways. Litter pollutes waterways and leaches toxic chemicals into soil and groundwater as it breaks down. Most litter begins with a careless act by an individual, who may toss away a cigarette butt or an empty soda can. As a result, there is a lot you can do to prevent litter. By conducting education programmes and campaigns about the environment, IDAP has begun achieving promotion of awareness in rural areas.

Ground-water pollution and surface-water pollution ranked as the top two concerns in a number of areas where IDAP has conducted programme work. This is closely followed by pesticide misuse and soil erosion. Ground-water and surface-water are traditionally concerns of rural communities, as these communities are almost exclusively served by well water. Pesticides and soil erosion are logical second-tier rankings. Agriculture, the primary activity in rural areas, involves the use of pesticides. Soil erosion, particularly in difficult planting and growing years, also has an environmental impact through water pollution and air pollution via wind borne particles. IDAP has been on the ground in regards to these issues and is promoting best practices.

It is important to note that many water resources in Kenya are under pressure today from agricultural chemicals, urban and industrial wastes, as well as from hydroelectric power schemes. Kenya expects a shortage of water to pose many problems in the coming years. Water-quality problems in lakes, including water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria, have contributed to a substantial decline in fishing output and a rise in endangered fish species.

Water hyacinth affects the Lake Victoria population in many negative ways. There are economic impacts when the weed blocks boat access. The effects on transportation and fishing are immediately felt. Where the weed is prolific, there is a general increase in several diseases, as the weed creates excellent breeding areas for mosquitoes and other insects. There are increased incidents of skin rash, cough, malaria, encephalitis, bilharzias, gastro intestinal disorders, and schistosomiasis. 

Water hyacinth also interferes with water treatment, irrigation, and water supply. It can smother aquatic life by deoxygenating the water, and it reduces nutrients for young fish in sheltered bays. It has blocked supply intakes for the hydroelectric plant, interrupting electrical power for entire cities. The weed also interrupts local subsistence fishing, blocking access to the beaches. IDAP is now working with some of the communities around the lake to determine the best approach for trying to provide solutions to some of these problems.

 

IDAP works with the local community to clean the environment and makes sure that normal activities around
Lake Victoria go on as programmed. Fishermen and businessmen around Luanda K’otieno are happy that
this could happen, courtesy of IDAP.
 

 

Trees, forests and environmental conservation

Environmental conservation and national economic development depends very much on trees and forests, which are critical resources for people’s livelihoods. In Kenya, forestry contributes about 4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 80% of the population depends directly on forests for their energy needs (firewood and charcoal), materials for furniture and construction (timber and poles) as well as food and other non-timber forest products (including fruits, nuts, medicinal plants, fodder and other products). 

Trees and forests also provide critical ecological services including: contributing directly to livelihoods and can complement other key components of poverty reduction (e.g. food production, education and primary health care). Projects aimed to contribute to addressing livelihood needs for income generation, fuel wood, timber, fruit, and fodder and other non-timber forest products, while halting and reversing the forest loss and related environmental degradation in Siaya County through promoting vegetable and fruit tree growing and agroforestry systems are being rolled out by IDAP. 

Tree planting has become a common phenomenon in Lunjre Village, Ugunja Constituency in Siaya County.
Many people are taking up tree planting to conserve the environment and supplement their future incomes.
A noble idea mooted by IDAP three years ago.