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I join other Kenyans and the world to mark this year’s World Water Day. The United Nations designated 22nd March of every year as the World Water Day to reflect on current and future challenges facing the water sector.

Kenya has been celebrating this event since 1993 in various locations of the country.
The theme this year is “Nature for Water” which is very appropriate given the challenges related to unpredictable nature resulting in extreme weather conditions currently being experienced in the country, from Drought to Floods and vice versa, with the resultant adverse effects such as flooding of homes, destructions of our infrastructure like roads and water pipelines. I want to congratulate Coast Water Service Board and members of the Ministerial National Organizing Committee for successfully organizing this year’s World Water Day celebrations in partnership with H. E. Governor Grantor Samboja and his Officials, County Commissioner Taita Taveta with the support of our Bilateral partners like GIZ and other stakeholders.
I am honoured to today to commission a Water project/ Borehole at the Mwasere Girls High School which has been drilled and equipped the borehole by the Coast Water Service Board (CWSB) in partnership with some of our Stakeholders This Borehole is yielding 18 m3/hr of Water and has other renovation works and sanitation facilities and will go a long way in assisting the school which has a long history of water scarcity.

Water is a major resource to the country’s socio-economic development and achievement of Kenya’s Vision 2030. Our national and regional development is highly dependent on water resources. The extent to which our food and energy security is assured depends on adequate availability of water. Our livelihoods are incomplete without it. Water defines the environment we live and operate in.
Every effort therefore, must be made to protect, conserve and sustainably develop our water resources, including transboundary waters. Water Resources Authority must therefore ensure there is efficient water use, mapping and classification of water sources and effective monitoring program.
The Government target is to achieve 80% coverage of water services by the year 2020 from the current level of 60% and 100% coverage by 2030 as per Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development goal number 6. My Ministry , with the support of relevant stakeholders and our Development Partners has put in place plans and strategies to ensure this is achieved. In Coast Region, we plan to implement Mzima II which will inject 65,000 m3/d while Mwache dam is expected to inject 186,000m3/d. We are also considering Garsen Lamu water project under Engineering Procurement Construction. To achieve universal access to water by the year 2030, we require to spend Ksh 1.764 trillion which translate to annual requirement of Ksh. 100 billion. The sector however, receives only Ksh. 40 billion annually, leaving a financing gap of Ksh. 60 billion.

I reaffirm my Ministry’s commitment towards ensuring that His Excellency the President promise to deliver the big four initiatives of Food Security, Universal Health Care, Manufacturing and Affordable Housing to Kenyans is achieved through the provision of safe water in sufficient quantities and quantities at an affordable price as water is an enabler in undertaking these programs. Under manufacturing agenda, special economic zones and industrial parks are planned for in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Machakos and Naivasha. While under affordable housing and real estate construction agenda, housing schemes are earmarked for Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Eldoret targeting a total of one million housing units. Further, in order to achieve universal healthcare, clean water and at least basic sanitation have to be accessible to all Kenyans. We have a responsibility to ensure that this is achievable.

Irrigation water requirement is the major user of water and we have to make adequate provision to minimize over reliance to rain fed agriculture to achieve food security. My Ministry has identified fifty-seven (57) large dams to be implemented in the next five (5) years.

This year’s theme is appropriate as “Nature for Water. In fact nature based solutions are the answer to the World’s Water problems. An estimated 2.1 billion people have no access to drinkable water because of the polluted ecosystems affecting quantity and quality of water available for human consumption.
Kenya is considered a water scarce country with a per capita water availability of less than 600 cubic meters, which is below the global threshold of 1000 cubic meters per capita. Studies by International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, ICRAF and the UN Environmental Programme show that Kenya’s rainwater potential is more than 350 billion cubic meters. If captured and managed, this water is enough to support a population of 233 million people or close to five times the current population of Kenya.

According to the 2009 Kenya Population Census, only 0.8 per cent of the urban population uses rain water. However, with proper harvesting mechanisms for runoff water, and storage, rain water can greatly supplement piped water and reduce urban floods.
Rain water harvesting, quality assurance especially in urban areas is key and as a Country, we commit to work with our partners in the private sector especially those in real estate and the National Construction Authority (NCA) to ensure our buildings are complaint with rainwater harvesting systems. I challenge micro-finance institutions to offer or fund the development of market products for rainwater harvesting. I plan to launch the National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority next month, an institution dedicated to water harvesting and storage.
Due to the effect of Climate change which has impacted negatively on our diminishing water resources resulting into frequent drought and floods, I direct that as we plan for water infrastructure projects, we should incorporate components of water resources management and sanitation. This will not only assist in rehabilitating our dilapidated catchment areas, but also in protecting and conserving them against pollution from point and non-point sources. Using harvested rainwater through innovative water harvesting systems has become a viable option for supplying water for domestic use, irrigation and industrial use. Rain water harvesting innovations are simple, cost effective environment friendly. It is therefore necessary to estimate the potential of rainwater yield to check that it can meet the required demand. Additionally, small dams and pans are very resourceful in water harvesting and storage. Small earth dams are particularly useful for drinking water supplies in the rural areas.
I call on all Kenyans, stakeholders in the water sector and development partners, join hands with the Government to ensure that Kenya is water secure. This will improve the health of our people, and the general social-economic development. The main beneficiaries will be women and children who spend as much as one-third of their day walking to get water. We cannot allow our schools to be closed and school children drop out of school due to lack of water.
I am confident that as a country, we are on the right path towards achieving the aspirations of article 43 (d) of our constitution and sustainable development goal number six on; “Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

I invite all Kenyans to Mwasere Girls high school in Voi, Taita Taveta County to join us the celebrations marking the day and entry is free.

Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary for Water & Sanitation

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