Kenya is classified by the United Nations as a chronically water-scarce country2, and currently ranks 21st for the worst levels of access to potable water in the world.3
A water-stressed nation has a per-capita freshwater supply of 1,000-1,700 cubic meters; a water-scarce country on the other hand, has less than 1,000 cubic meters per capita. Kenya’s natural water endowment is 647 cubic meters per capita.4
In 2008, only 59% of all Kenyans had access to safe water.1 The 2006 drought in Kenya was declared a national disaster, as 3.5 million people faced starvation and food shortages.5 Droughts continue to plague the region. Beyond the threat of drought-induced food scarcity, 10% of deaths in Kenya occur from water-borne or sanitation-related diseases.6
Since 2002, when the national water policy was amended, the Government of Kenya (GoK) has made noble efforts, with the support of development agencies, to develop and implement a long-term plan for water provision. The GoK has faced many challenges, including corruption issues and difficulty maintaining public support. Though the GoK has intended to decentralize, water resource management and policy has remained highly bureaucratic, with a “top-down” system of planning and management.
On the other hand, “bottom-up” or grass-roots initiatives are haphazardly implemented, with little-or-no strategy or planning. When local groups and charities approach water provision, they often fail to see the big picture implications of their actions or how their work can be affected by another organization, sector, or the government (such as was exemplified in the home page story 40 Wells Run Dry).
Ultimately, there is a limited focus on knowledge sharing, collaborative implementation of strategy, efficiency, and long-term impact. No one has clearly defined and successfully implemented a system that can overcome the root causes of water scarcity at scale. Upon researching the impact and surveying the workings of the water sector, Quiet Way has isolated Kenya’s greatest obstacles:
- Limited strategic planning with all stakeholders
- Water-resource mapping and management
- Cross-sector collaborative implementation
- Water-resource program transparency