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Kenya loses Sh27 billion due to poor sanitation, says secretary Judy Wakhungu

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By Agencies

Kenya is losing Sh27 billion annually due to poor sanitation and hygiene, cabinet Secretary for Water, environment and natural resources Ms Judy Wakhungu has said.Less than half the Kenyan population have access to clean waterLess than half the Kenyan population have access to clean water

She however reiterated Kenya’s commitment to provide clean water and improve sanitation in order to bolster its’ citizen’s health.

The secretary was among representatives of more than 50 governments gathered in Washington, DC last Friday April for the Sanitation and Water conference organised by the United Nations and graced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Kenya’s revelation is timely as estimates from WHO and UNICEF indicate that over 48 percent of Kenyans lack access to adequate safe water. Having noticed the magnitude of the problem, the government set out to halve this figure by end of 2015 although according to data compiled by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) indicate that the set deadline may not achieved.

The conference attracted several countries globally with a group of Sub-Saharan African leaders including Kenya pledging to work harder to reach 325 million people on the continent without safe water and 644 million without basic toilets.

Around 20 countries, including Kenya promised to provide all citizens with access to safe water, basic toilets and hygiene by 2030.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the 11 April meeting with warnings that the crisis in water and sanitation will hold back efforts to eradicate poverty.

“Achieving sanitation and water for all may not be cost-free – but it will set people free. Access to sanitation and water means a child free of disease, a woman free of the back-breaking chore to fetch water, a girl free to attend school without fear, a village free of cholera, and a world of greater equality and dignity for all,” he said.

WaterAid a founding partner in the Sanitation and Water for All partnership welcomed the commitments.

“WaterAid welcomes the pledges African governments have made at the High Level Meeting to provide safe water and basic toilets.

What is crucial now will be action to deliver those promises. One thousand children in Sub-Saharan Africa die every day from this health crisis. Safe water, basic toilets and proper hand-washing with soap can save those lives,” said Barbara Frost, WaterAid Chief Executive.

“Sanitation and Water for All is an important mechanism to not just learn from each other, but to hold ourselves accountable for results - results that benefit the poorest and most vulnerable people,” he said.

New data from the World Health Organisation and Unicef Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) on Water Supply and Sanitation show the massive and growing inequalities in access to safe water and toilets around the world: 748 million globally without safe water and 2.5 billion without proper sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there remain 325 million without safe water and 644 million without basic sanitation.

Out of the one billion people around the world still practicing open defecation, 227 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa; 9 in 10 of them live in rural areas.

In Kenya, the government’s efforts to help foster sanitation and hygiene through the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) concept initiated in the year 2007 has registered success with the recent declaration of Nambale and Nyando sub-counties Open Defecation Free.

However more effort is needed to register notable success with JPM 2012/2013 report indicating that, 29 percent of Kenyans have access to improved sanitation, 26 per cent shared sanitation, 31 per cent un-improved sanitation and 14 per cent of the population still practice open defecation.

Safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene can prevent illness and make a community healthier and more productive. They can also prevent infant and child mortality, improve rates of education, and prevent the vulnerability that comes when women and girls tasked with fetching water must walk long distances to do so, or when they do not have a safe place to relieve themselves.

“This crisis has had a devastating impact on Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy, development, and families. But sanitation is now recognised as essential in ending extreme poverty.

Our challenge is to reach our poorest and most excludedand ensure that everyone’s right to water and sanitation is met in our lifetime. These pledges from African governments are a big step towards realising a healthier and more prosperous future for our continent,” said Nelson Gomonda, pan-African programme manager for WaterAid.

In total, government ministers from 44 developing countries made 265 commitments to increase access to water and sanitation, including promises to address massive inequalities in access,  including between urban and rural residents, rich and poor, and among ethnic groups and regions.

WaterAid has made its own commitments toward a vision of reaching everyone, everywhere by 2030 with safe water and sanitation, as a founding partner in the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership of more than 90 country governments, donors, civil society organisations and other development partners.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of WaterAid.

 

 

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