Kenya: The Pathway of Water – Promoting Peaceful Ties, Fostering Harmony and Prosperity

Historically, water has been a central factor in human settlement patterns. Ancient civilizations flourished along the banks of rivers. Modern cities cluster around freshwater sources, impacting how and where people live.

However, unequal access to water resources has led to tensions, especially where water is scarce or polluted; competition for limited resources can escalate into conflicts, aggravating social and political instability.

Water also fosters harmony and prosperity when managed equitably and sustainably. Access to clean water and sanitation improves public health and enhances educational opportunities, economic productivity, and overall well-being.

By ensuring universal access to water and sanitation, communities can reach their full potential, increasing social cohesion and economic prosperity.

Water is also a pathway for international cooperation and discussions, promoting peaceful ties and collaborative action on shared water resources.

The United Nations (UN) World Water Day on 22nd March is an annual reminder of the global water crisis. This year’s theme, “Water for Peace,” highlights the critical role of water in promoting cooperation and averting conflict.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF (2023), approximately 2.2 billion individuals still lack access to safe drinking water, with 115 million relying on surface water sources.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2022), about half of the world’s population faces acute water scarcity at some point each year. Furthermore, according to the World Bank (2022), water-related disasters account for 70 percent of all-natural disaster mortality.

Kenya’s water story is complex, interlaced with obstacles and opportunities. With its varied landscape and rising population, Kenya faces unique water problems.

Understanding how water influences human settlement, collaboration, and prosperity in Kenya provides essential insights for accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and advocating water for peace on a global scale.

Because of the variable climate and geographically uneven rainfall patterns, some regions experience prolonged droughts while others experience seasonal floods, hence the urgent need to develop innovative, long-term water management solutions that promote equal

distribution and reduce conflict.

Climate change threatens Kenya’s water security, as it does to many other regions worldwide. Erratic rainfall patterns affect traditional water-gathering methods and strain current water infrastructure.

Adaptation methods, such as growing drought-tolerant

crops and increasing water efficiency are critical for strengthening

resilience.

But all is not lost Kenya has a long history of applying conventional methods of managing water, such as rainwater collection and sand dams. Kenya needs sustainable water management systems by combining these techniques with contemporary solutions, as evidenced

by the increased uptake of modern infrastructure, such as irrigation systems, boreholes, and dams.

Water for peace in Kenya requires a collaborative effort from various stakeholders such as the government, communities, civil societies, NGOs, and the private sector.

Governments should invest in infrastructure, promote sustainable practices, and foster water governance frameworks. Addressing water pollution and ensuring water rights for all citizens is vital.

Community engagement is also critical to the success of water projects. Local knowledge and engagement are essential for ensuring that initiatives are culturally appropriate and suit the

unique needs of communities. Such partnerships raise awareness about

water concerns, lobby for policy reform, and implement water management projects at the community level.

With its global network of volunteers and humanitarian projects, Rotary International has been at the forefront of leveraging water for peace and prosperity.

Through initiatives like the Rotary Water and Sanitation Program and the Rotary Foundation’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) projects, Rotary Clubs have significantly improved access to clean water and sanitation in underserved communities

worldwide.

Rotary clubs in District 9212, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Eritrea, have been instrumental in drilling boreholes, building rainwater harvesting systems, and promoting hygiene education in Kenyan communities.

In June In 2021, The Rotary Club of Nairobi–Lang’ata, in partnership with Kenya Defence Forces, drilled a borehole for the Oloomaiyana community, installing a

solar-powered water pumping system to supply over 12,000 people.

Before the project’s launch, Oloomaiyana commuted for at least fifteen kilometers daily to fetch water from the nearest basin for their livestock and personal use.

The water was also reticulated 4km to the Oloomaiyana Centre water kiosks and adjacent facilities, such as the Early Childhood Education Centre and the local dispensary.

Let us reaffirm our commitment to using water to promote peace and sustainable development. By promoting water

stewardship, emphasizing equitable access to water resources, and encouraging. collaboration at all levels, we can create a more just, resilient, and affluent world for current and future generations.

Allow water to serve as a source of life and a catalyst for peace, unity, and progress. We must act on the knowledge that water is more than just a resource to be exploited and competed for; it is a human right fundamental to all aspects of life.

The writer is an environmentalist and past president of the Rotary Club of Murang’a.

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Kanani Wanjohi

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