Kenya - By 2028 - guaranteed 50 litres of clean and safe drinking water 
or equivalent cash compensation for every person per day

In response to the severe droughts and floods and critical water scarcity arising from the climate crisis, the Grape team has chosen to advocate for the universal right to water. The campaign aims to secure, by 2028, access to 50 liters of clean drinking water for every individual in Kenya or equivalent cash compensation. Besides the national advocacy campaign, there is a compelling argument for the country to receive financial support from global climate justice, adaptation, and mitigation programmes, since Kenya has not been a key driver in terms of the climate crisis. Achieving a just transition can play a pivotal role in realizing the campaign's goal.

Access to clean water is a crucial issue that affects people around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and about 4.2 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation services. The United Nations General Assembly has recognised access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right. This right entitles every person to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use. The WHO recommends that an adult should have access to at least 50 and 100 litres of safe water per day for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene.
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The Kenyan Grape Program Team conducted case studies in a few sampled counties, namely; Kajiado, Kiambu, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet. The case studies mostly targeted subsistent and large-scale farmers in a bid to find the effects of climate change in the agricultural sector. This is bearing in mind that agriculture forms the backbone of the economic sector in Kenya. Water scarcity and shortage was the prevalent challenge in almost all the case studies.
Access to safe and drinking water in Kenya was identified as a significant issue, particularly in rural areas. According to the United Nations, about 41% of Kenyans lack access to basic drinking water services, and only 9% of the population has access to safely managed drinking water services. In rural areas, many people rely on shallow wells, rivers, or ponds for their water needs, which can be contaminated with bacteria and other harmful substances. As a result, waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea are prevalent. In urban areas, water scarcity is a concern due to prolonged cases of droughts in the country. In 2022, Kenya witnessed the worst drought in over 40 years after five consecutive failed rainy seasons. Over 5 million people from the Arid and Semi-Arid areas were exposed to severe hunger and over 2 million livestock lost. Communities in these areas had to walk for tens of kilometres in search of water and if one managed to secure as much as 20 litres, then this was to be used by the whole family with drinking and cooking being prioritized. Despite the acquired water not being necessarily clean, families were forced to manage household needs with it, thereby exposing families to health hazards and disease outbreaks. In the various case studies undertaken, lack of access to sufficient water was the main challenge affecting the socio-economic lives of the community members engaged. This was attributed to climate change, with a majority of them relying on rain for their farming activities being affected. One of the respondents noted that they would spend as high as 50 shillings for a 20 litre jerrycan of water. If the proposed UN standards were to be upheld, an individual in this family will spend an average of 125 shillings per day on water which is not sustainable.

The government’s national development plan, Kenya Vision 2030, articulates an ambition to fill these gaps and ensure that all citizens have access to basic water and sanitation by 2030, the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). In order to achieve that vision, however, a multi-pronged approach involving financing and monitoring is needed. This will include enactment and effective implementation of policies, strategies and plans to address the water crisis and climate change at large. Article 43 of the Kenyan constitution guarantees the right of all Kenyans to clean and safe water in adequate quantities, and to reasonable standards of sanitation. The government therefore has a mandate to ensure this provision is fulfilled and all necessary options including providing a compensation financing model for communities to access clean and safe water in adequate amounts is put in place.

The Kenya campaign has resolved the following:

  • We note that water is a basic need for every human being, ensuring human dignity and the possibility of a flourishing life.
  • We note divisive inequalities in Kenya, for instance, 41% of Kenyans lack access to basic drinking water services and only 9% can access safe drinking water services. The implication is that 21.73 million Kenyans lack access to basic drinking water.
  • We note that water resources may be available, but they are often over-utilised or illegally utilized for the purposes of business or industrial development. This takes the form of destruction of water catchment areas or illegally utilising water resources without appropriate taxes paid.
  • We observe the grave effect that this has since water is the basis of household and agricultural activities, business, industry, and robust public healthcare system, lack of access to clean and safe water has negative implications for all of life.
  • We observe the policy and legal provision in Kenya which has committed to this goal of providing water to all.
  • We resolve that every person has access to the minimum water requirement of 50 liters of clean and safe drinking water per day, or an equivalent cash compensation per day.

Campaign demands:

  • We agree that every Kenyan should receive 50 litres of clean and safe drinking water.
  • That this 50 litres will be provided unconditionally.
  • That where the 50 litres is not provided, an equivalent cash compensation is provided.

We commit to work together to make the provision of 50 litres of water to every Kenyan household a reality in Kenya so as to reduce the inequalities and so as to ensure this access to a basic need crucial for household and livelihood activities. We invite and call on all stakeholders to join us in this initiative.

© 2024 World Communion of Reformed Churches