Friday, September 20, 2019
CS Judi Wakhungu (middle front row) in a group photo of the attendants of the Annual Water Sector Conference held at Safari Park Hotel

CS Judi Wakhungu (middle front row) in a group photo of the attendants of the Annual Water Sector Conference held at Safari Park Hotel

The 9th Annual water Sector Conference Under the theme ‘Towards Realisation of the Right to Water under Devolution was officially opened by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment Water and Natural Resources Prof.  Judi Wakhungu on the 8th of April, 2015 at Safari Park Hotel Nairobi.

The theme mirrored with the provisions of Kenya Constitution 2010, which explicitly entrenches the right of access to adequate and clean water in the Bill of Rights. “The Water Sector Conference is  an important event in the development calendar of the water sector as it provides an opportunity for us to report to our stakeholders, discuss our performance and challenges over the last year, and chart the way forward for the coming year,” said Wakhungu.

Prof. Wakhungu said, the constitutional provision puts into focus the mandate and obligation of her Ministry and the entire sector to deliver services to the citizens. She said County Governments have a fundamental role and responsibility to undertake in provision of Water and related services adding that “Understanding our roles with clarity in the new constitutional order is key to effective delivery of our mandate”.

“My Ministry’s vision is to engage all stakeholders, enhance collaboration, promote coordination and create partnerships, all in an effort to support Kenya to secure adequate water for the present and future generations”.

In Kenya, demand for water is expected to grow exponentially over the next 15 years. She noted that despite the heavy investment in water infrastructure, it is still difficult for supply to keep pace with demand.  Therefore, she noted, it was inevitable to think creatively about conservation, catchment management, and new supply and demand management options.  The country needed to create the right incentives to attract private investment into areas such as efficient water use technologies, wastewater recycling and water storage and conservation solutions the CS said.

The conference heard that the National water Master Plan is under dissemination. It will set the baseline for available resources in Kenya and is available for all stakeholders to use. On the groundwater front, the ground water survey in northern and Central Turkana has been done.

The CS said, the development of a policy to facilitate effective management of trans-boundary waters has been finalised and approved. The sub-sector has concurrently initiated bilateral agreements through Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with neighboring countries to promote cooperative frameworks for sustainable management and equitable utilization of shared waters.  The shared waters include Mara river basin, Sio-Malakisi River Basin, Lake Chala and Jipe basin, Lake-Turkana- River Omo basin and River Daua Basin.

She said the land reclamation sub-sector has to affirmatively engage in programmes to improve on water storage; reclamation of arid and semi-arid lands and environmentally degraded areas.  Such hitherto unproductive areas have to be transformed to increase food production and for other economic developments.” We need to ensure that there is adequate capacity all levels to address these issues” said prof Wakhungu.

During the last financial year, capacity needs assessment of 18 counties was conducted to give baseline information. Some 647 water pans were built in collaboration with the Ministry of devolution and planning.

Currently 24 million Kenyans easily access safe clean drinking water. Of these, 10.3 million live in rural areas and have access to water within 2 kilometers.  In the urban areas water is accessible within 30 minutes of water source. Despite these efforts, 16 million Kenyans are without access to water in both rural and urban areas. The current Funding to the water sector is inadequate and hence this high deficit in acces to water. On Sanitation status, the total sewerage coverage only serves a population of about 3.5 million Kenyans. An estimated 1.4 Million Kenyans use on-site sewerage.

Prof stated that her Ministry highly regarded the conference as it was a national dialogue platform important for stakeholders’ engagement to harmonize their expectations and to optimize synergies and efforts as well as to enhance coordination.

She added that the ministry was committed in implementing the plans, programmes and recommendations arrived at by the conference.  She assured the conference that all resources set aside for interventions will be used strictly for intended purposes.

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