Many say water is Life! And I totally agree from the basic fact that humans cannot survive without drinking water. But more than a billion people on our planet – many of them live in Africa – do not have access to clean drinking water. Live humanity aside, even from those simple starter organisms to the most complex plants and animals, water plays a critical role in survival ever since. In humans, it acts as both a solvent and a delivery mechanism, dissolving essential vitamins and nutrients from food and delivering them to cells. Our bodies also use water to flush out toxins, regulate body temperature and aid our metabolism. No wonder, then, that water makes up nearly 60 percent of our bodies or that we can’t go for more than a few days without it.
Kenya is one of the countries where access to clean water is lacking. Only 12 % of all Kenyan households in rural areas are connected to the water system. People, often women, have to walk long distances in order to reach the next water hole or are forced to drink dirty or contaminated water. In particular, children are prone to water-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid or diarrhoea. Droughts, climate change or political instability can make the situation even worse. According to the UN, every 15 seconds a child dies due to the lack of clean water. Education suffers when sick children miss school. Economic opportunities are routinely lost to the impacts of rampant illness and the time-consuming processes of acquiring water where it is not readily available.
According to the Joint Monitoring Programme’s 2012 report, access to safe water supplies throughout Kenya is 59% and access to improved sanitation is 32%. There is still an unmet need in rural and urban areas for both water and sanitation. Kenya faces challenges in water provision with erratic weather patterns in the past few years causing droughts and water shortages. Kenya also has a limited renewable water supply and is classified as a water scarce country. Urban migration contributes to challenges in sanitation, as people crowd into cities and urban growth is unregulated.
Kenya’s water shortage also means that a large population of women and children spend up to one-third of their day fetching water in the hot sun from the nearest fresh water source. This backbreaking work leaves roughly half of the country’s inhabitants vulnerable to serious dangers. In addition to exposure to the elements and risk of attack by predators, the primary water gatherers are also the most susceptible to water-borne diseases.
Water problems in the “Third World” countries are much more devastating and dangerous to people’s health. Most of the time local rivers, streams and lakes are the source of drinking water. This is very dangerous for people because they have a much higher risk of being contaminated by bacteria and parasites. Just stepping into a lake with faecal contamination is dangerous. Imagine having to drink that water because the economy is too poor to provide safe drinking water, or the community is too far from a source of safe water.
As a result many families resort to traditional ways of water treatment mainly; water boiling which uses a lot of firewood on their traditional three stone stoves. Carbon Zero has developed an initiative in Kenya and beyond where it identifies non functional boreholes which are then repaired to allow the rural community have access to clean and safe drinking water. Also the large amounts of wood used to boil water are also saved thus reducing wood wastage thus conserving forest cover. This in effect helps to fight climate change!