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Problems With Drinking Water Supplies In Kenya

878 words - 4 pages

Water is a bare necessity both for the survival of an individual and a nation. Freshwater scarcity has become a global concern as the projected worldwide demand on water exceeds supplies. Less developed countries in particular are currently suffering from severe water shortages and water contamination. "…half the population of our "civilized" world suffers today with water services inferior to those of the ancient Greeks and Romans…In many developing countries, cholera, dysentery, and other water related diseases are on the upswing." (Gleick,1999) Kenya, Africa is one such case. Kenya's population is approximately 105,000, with a high infant mortality rate and an average life expectancy of 58. Average water conditions are illustrated in Embu, where only 15% of the population had access to safe water as early as ten years ago. Lack of organized regulation and misuse of available resources threatens drinking water supplies in Kenya; however, work is being done to solve the problem.
Several factors play a part in poor water quality. Kenya has an uneven distribution of water resources. Water systems are highly stressed, including Lakes Victoria, Nakuru, and Naivasha, as well as Rivers Nzoia, Nyando, Turkwell, Kerio, Athi, Voi, Tana, and Ewaso Ng'iro. "Misuse of Kenya's water resources threatens the supply in the next century … consumption of water, both in agriculture and industry, would have greatly outstripped supply by the next century." (, 1997) Many sources, such as Turkana, have salinity levels too high for use. Extensive irrigation from rivers causes water levels to drop allowing more pollutants into water resources. Arid climates in many regions see only 26 -- 48 inches of rain per year, which occurs mainly in violent storms that cause erosion and leaching of nutrients from soil. Most crops are harvested in poor soil and produce low yields, providing inadequate nutrition and food supplies. Poverty and poor education contribute to the problem. Farmers are in very disadvantageous economic conditions to improve their land or equipment. The people of Kenya prove to have very little education on hygiene, bacteria, or water born viruses.
Government inefficiency is contributing to the problem. Although the Kenyan legislature has instituted the National Irrigation Board, the agency is weak and fails to effectively enforce regulations on consumption and pollution. It is estimated that 80% of current water abstractions have no permits and inspectors rarely monitor those that do. Also, Kenya is not a member of any convention that deals with waters shared across national boundaries.
However, government efforts are currently being made to improve the situation in Kenya. The Lake Naivasha Riparian Owner's Association is working on an environmental...

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