If he was to consult me about his legacy, this is what I’d tell the President

Kenya is a water-scarce country and barring a miracle, it will always be so

In Summary

• Growing population and limited resources for collection of water spell doom

A line of taps
A line of taps
Image: FILE

Like every leader with an eye on the history books, President Uhuru Kenyatta desires to leave a legacy, and that’s why in between all the other stuff he gets up to, such as shuffling his Cabinet during a busy working holiday in Mombasa, he has been busy with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and his Big Four plan for the economy.

The commentariat have had their say with regards to both. Some think both these legacy vessels are a pie in the sky, while others believe they are rock solid enterprises that will define the Kenyatta II administration.

I’m agnostic about BBI and I think the Big Four should have been at the top of the list back in 2013, when it might have stood a chance as its chief proponent still had lots of political capital to spend on it. 

If I had the President’s ear, this is what I’d be whispering into it: Kenya is a water-scarce country and barring a miracle, it will always be so. In fact, with the ever-growing population and limited resources for collection of water, there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when the situation will get worse. 

If you want to leave a historic legacy that will be remembered long after the BBIs and the Big Four have been amended, thrown out, overtaken by events and forgotten, do something about the water situation.

If he was paying attention to me, he might respond with “Sasa unataka nifanye nini?” to which I would instantly respond: Grey water.

Thinking I had misheard him, he might try to wave me away and dismiss me, but like an annoying mosquito, I would continue to buzz around his ears, spreading the gospel of grey water systems and how the key to a lasting legacy, which even those who have no time for him would have to acknowledge, is in grey water.

I would also explain that waste water from baths, showers, hand wash basins and washing machines is grey water, and that when treated properly, the water can be reused for toilet flushing, laundry and, for those who have them, swimming pools.

I would give him literature to read on the topic and work hard to get him to convince those in charge of the building of homes, office blocks, hotels and, since they are now our thing, shopping malls, that from now henceforth, no building would get permission to be erected without a functional grey water system in place.

I would then suggest that he then find some way to get every existing building in the country retrofitted with a grey water system. 

For his final flourish, though I can see him baulking at this one, I would suggest that he convince his family that their northlands development be transformed into a mixed development with a large social housing element where every home, big or small, has a front and back yard and then move those who live in the slums of Nairobi and elsewhere there. After all, with 11,000-plus acres, they can afford to do it. 

Of course it will never happen, but imagine what the history books would say if it did.