Problems With Drinking Water Supplies in Kenya

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Water is a bare necessity both for the survival of an individual and a nation. Freshwater scarcity has become a global concern as the projected worldwide demand on water exceeds supplies. Less developed countries in particular are currently suffering from severe water shortages and water contamination. "…half the population of our "civilized" world suffers today with water services inferior to those of the ancient Greeks and Romans…In many developing countries, cholera, dysentery, and other water related diseases are on the upswing." (Gleick,1999) Kenya, Africa is one such case. Kenya's population is approximately 105,000, with a high infant mortality rate and an average life expectancy of 58. Average water conditions are illustrated in Embu, where only 15% of the population had access to safe water as early as ten years ago. Lack of organized regulation and misuse of available resources threatens drinking water supplies in Kenya; however, work is being done to solve the problem.

Several factors play a part in poor water quality. Kenya has an uneven distribution of water resources. Water systems are highly stressed, including Lakes Victoria, Nakuru, and Naivasha, as well as Rivers Nzoia, Nyando, Turkwell, Kerio, Athi, Voi, Tana, and Ewaso Ng'iro. "Misuse of Kenya's water resources threatens the supply in the next century … consumption of water, both in agriculture and industry, would have greatly outstripped supply by the next century." (, 1997) Many sources, such as Turkana, have salinity levels too high for use. Extensive irrigation from rivers causes water levels to drop allowing more pollutants into water resources. Arid climates in many regions see only 26 -- 48 inches...

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...n any new kind of experience for communities." (, 1999) Kenya's water problem is improving as a result of advancing technology. However, education remains a lacking part of the equation. "A key aspect of the campaign is villagers' awareness of the health and sanitation benefits from using bore wells." (, 1999) Organized maintenance and distribution of water from wells and other sources is crucial to forming a healthy and self-reliant Kenya.


Africa News homepage. 1997

Online. World Wide Web. 9/25/99.

Available: 1999

Online. World Wide Web. 9/25/99


Gleick, Peter H., (1999). The World's Water The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources. Washington D.C.: Island Press.
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