Water remains one of the most valuable resources under the sun as it supports all forms of life. The earth is made up of 75% water bodies and out of these, freshwater accounts for 2.5% of the total global water volume, mostly preserved in glaciers. Water resource has been diminishing with the increase in abstraction due to an increase in demand attributed by population growth. Encroachment of water towers has led to degradation of water catchment areas, resulting in reduced river volumes and dry riverbeds. Agricultural activities upstream have resulted in erosion, poor river water quality and siltation in dams, reducing their capacity. Water losses are high in the East African region, where up to 80% of the water produced is lost. The populace is not enlightened on reuse and recycling of water and proper measures for water conservation are almost non-existent.
Almost 85% of global wastewater is discharged without treatment leading to serious impacts on public health. Access to sanitation services in parts of the East African region is a challenge, especially with rapid population growth and urbanization which creates an added demand for water and sanitation services. Global warming is caused by greenhouse effect where the atmosphere retains heat radiations from the sun, warming the earth in the process. With the shift towards industrialization, there is an increase in the greenhouse gases emissions which result in more heat radiations retained in the atmosphere leading to higher global temperatures.
Last week Co2balance staff in Kenya attended the East Africa Water Summit 2019, with the theme: Sustainable Water and Sanitation in the Face of Climate Change. This summit is a hybrid private-public sectors initiative to bring together stakeholders in the water and sanitation industry in the East African region, for the purpose of sharing relevant experience, knowledge and technology on sustainable water and sanitation in the face of climate change.
Over the past few years the Summit has created a unique and engaging annual forum for connecting a regional network of water leaders to exchange ideas, share experiences, advance water-related goals, connect with emerging solutions and shape the future of water technology.
In today’s new world, long-established and proven water and wastewater utility management practices are being challenged by various emerging issues i.e. population growth, pollution, climate change etc. The Summit provided space for an inclusive space to discuss current solutions to counter all these emerging issues affecting the water sector. There were a myriad calls for increased adoption of more advanced solutions like digital water, reclaimed water use, decentralized treatment, to name a few of the issues on the table to be adopted in the sector to get it moving forward.
There were deliberate efforts to use the summit high level networks to reach out to all senior decision makers and stakeholders of the East Africa water sector to seek for their support in formulating policies and financing the water sector to bring change and development that will give access to the last drop of water to the region’s growing population.
The key note speaker at the Summit, Hon. Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water, Sanitation & Irrigation Government of Kenya appreciated the strides being made in the sector by various partners and assured participants of support from various governments within the region.
During the various networking sessions of the summit Co2balance managed to elaborate and showcase its current water projects in Kilifi County in Kenya and growing water projects portfolio in Central and Western Kenya regions. Many County governments present at the summit expressed their gratitude to Co2balance for the great work done in Kilifi County rehabilitating over 120 non-functional boreholes in a record 12 months and ensuring that over 70,000 members of the local communities who had no access to safe water before are now able to access the elusive resource from within. Many County governments have since showed their willingness to partner with Co2balance to bring back the many non-functional boreholes within their vicinities back to life.
As it emerged from the discussions at the summit many are the years that most of the partners have been engaging in more talk and less work, no action on the ground seen as communities have not been able to have access to safe water despite many people talking about the acute shortage and the need to act. Co2balance remains a key player in this space demonstrated by the quick strides made in the last twelve months in Kilifi County.