MAKING PROGRESS

Focus on vulnerable groups to achieve sanitation for all – WHO

Kenya aims to achieve 100 per cent access to basic safe water supply and 100 per cent access to basic sanitation by the year 2030

In Summary

• This includes sanitation for people living with disabilities.

• The report recognises Kenya as being among few countries with specific sanitation strategy or plan.

WHO director General Tedros Adhanom at a press conference outside Afya House
WHO director General Tedros Adhanom at a press conference outside Afya House
Image: FILE

Kenya should increase access to drinking water by more than 3.3 per cent every year to meet targets for safely managed urban drinking water services, a new report suggests. 

The World Health Organization’s latest report, ‘National Systems To Support Drinking-Water, Sanitation And Hygiene: Global Status Report 2019’ was released on Wednesday.

The report notes that despite funding gaps and weak systems, many developing countries are making progress on Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation. 

In 2015, Kenya achieved water coverage of 56.9 per cent and received $70 million for water/sewerage system from the National treasury.

This was insufficient to achieve the vision 2030 targets for water and sanitation.

The report recommends for water and sanitation services among the vulnerable populations, including those living with disabilities to be improved. 

“Too many people lack access to reliable and safe drinking water, toilets and hand-washing facilities, putting them at risk of deadly infections and threatening progress in public health,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Kenya aims to achieve 100 per cent access to basic safe water supply and 100 per cent access to basic sanitation by the year 2030.

The main challenge has always been poor quality services for the poor in urban and rural areas, mainly in the area of sanitation and hygiene.

Coverage and quality of services are significantly lower among vulnerable groups including the marginalised communities, street families, those in arid and semi-arid regions and the physically challenged.

“We call on all countries that lack essential water and sanitation infrastructure to allocate funds and human resources to build and maintain it.”

The report, however, recognises Kenya as being among a few countries with specific sanitation strategy or plan that carefully aligns to an existing sanitation policy.

The government aims to reach 2.8 million people in hard-to-reach areas with access to safe water by 2022.

“The ability to identify gaps in equitable service coverage is essential for targeting vulnerable groups that are lagging behind,” the report says.

Chair of UN-Water and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development Gilbert Houngbo said: “If we are to create a healthier, more equitable and stable society, then strengthening the systems to reach those currently living without safe and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene services must be a top priority.

Houngbo noted that though there is a need to ensure the availability of sufficient funding to tackle these critical challenges, it is equally important to continue reinforcing national delivery systems.

The United Nations classifies Kenya as a chronically water-scarce country.

Estimates of water supply in the country indicate that only about 56 per cent of the population has access to safe water. 

Approximately 80 per cent of hospital attendance in Kenya is due to preventable diseases and about 50 per cent of these illnesses are water, sanitation and hygiene-related.