People Daily

Water crisis points to deforestation, irresponsible use of resources

The rapidly-deepening deficit in the water resource throughout the country may dictate that even in the short term, we re-strategise, strengthen policies and juggle financial resources priorities if Kenya is to minimise the gravity of current supply crisis.

A survey by People Daily today points to a grim sense of inevitability unless more deliberate and immediate efforts are made to repurpose the whole range of water utilisation and sourcing. Kenyans must go back to the drawing board, starting with attitude shift.

The outlook that nature’s resources are infinite must quickly be cast aside. Virtually every river and other natural water bodies are drying or have dried up, cataylsed by a savage drought.

However, the blame also lies in irresponsible human activities driven by short-term pursuits. In recent years, the government has to its credit progressively allocated more money to Water ministry (Sh46.6billion in the 2017/18 financial year) to cater for irrigation, flood control, sanitation and water resource management, among others. But such funding do not cater for vagaries of weather which continue to wreak havoc.

Had Kenyans and indeed the world paid more attention to that inspirational eco-warrior, the late Nobel Prize laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, our circumstances would have been different.

She once said: “Mother Nature is very generous, but very unforgiving. If you destroy nature, nature will destroy you.” But because we have been blinded by a false sense of entitlement and thoughtless preoccupation with immediate gains, her words even as she pleaded that we take better care of the environment went largely unheeded.

Those ringing words: “We can love ourselves by loving the earth”, apparently failed to sink in. Wangari stressed preservation of water towers as a lifeline. She disputed claims that it is the poor who destroy the environment, insisting that it was often the rich and powerful, who using power, saws fell hundreds of indigenous trees that had stood for scores of years in water towers, destroyed rivers stripping river beds of sand through sand harvesting and indulging in massive charcoal burning.

Will the new Environment Cabinet secretary Keriako Tobiko live up to his pledge yesterday to act resolutely to check environmental resources plunder and degradation? Can Kenyans look forward to seeing more resources allocated to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to convincingly execute its mandate?

Even today and despite being bombarded by chilling narratives about South Africa’s Cape Town facing “Day Zero” in less than two months, we still think its something that happens elsewhere and continue our indulgent disposition to thoughtless use of water.

Meanwhile, taps are running dry in most urban Kenya, rivers are drying up, waters reservoirs that supply towns are at their lowest, images of women—who are the first victims of degraded environment—spending half the day looking for water, the girlchild forced to leave school to help search for water, the array of preventable water-borne diseases take their toll, cattle collapse in their tens as they are driven miles and miles to seek pasture and water, water pans and the shores of other water bodies receding are disturbing.

Its a dire situation which look set to get compounded given yesterday’s downbeat outlook by the Meteorological Department’ which doused hopes by prediction that long rains would not be due till second week of March. In the meantime, Kenyans face water and power rationing with dire economic impact.

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