The government has set aside Sh28 billion to fight the effects of drought as the dry spell sets in.
Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the State is currently undertaking 28 projects in the worst hit counties including Mandera, Marsabit, Baringo and West Pokot. The government is partnering with the Africa Development Bank.
“Besides water trucking, we also want to ensure sanitation is improved in all towns through provision of sewerage disposal systems. We want to reduce effluent being discharged into our rivers,” said Mr Chelugui.
He said the ministry is working with other partners including the National Drought Management Authority until the situation improves in April.
Mr Chelugui said they are keen to increase water storage capacity through channelling funds to the construction of mega dams and boreholes and mapping underground water through feasibility studies.
“We are focusing on ground water mapping. We strongly believe underground water is very important. Already we have established two aquifers in Turkana County; one is salty and the other is fresh water. Further studies are ongoing to isolate the salty one,” the CS said.
According to Mr Chelugui, Baringo County is among the hardest hit by water shortages, with 70 per cent of patients seeking treatment at Kabarnet Referral Hospital suffering from waterborne diseases including bilharzia, typhoid and dysentery.
Mr Chelugui, who inspected ongoing water projects in Baringo County last week, said the Itare dam in Nakuru County is currently producing 186 million litres of water daily, which has boosted water provision in the region.
“We’ve already secured Sh3.4 billion from the German Bank which will be used to set up a new sewer treatment plan in Nakuru County,” said Mr Chelugui.
He said the Water and Devolution ministries are currently in the process of rehabilitating existing waters sources and distributing relief food rations to the worst-hit areas until the situation improves.
“Considering that drought and floods are natural phenomena, we are already putting in place measures in liaison with other government agencies and stakeholders to mitigate its effects,” he said.
According to Mr Chelugui, 2.1 million people will get water while another 1.3 million will receive sewerage services.
He said the national water coverage is 60 per cent while basic sanitation stands at 35 per cent.
Mr Chelugui said that to achieve universal water coverage by 2030, the sector needs to connect 200,000 Kenyans to potable water and 350,000 to sewerage systems yearly.
Pastoralists in arid and semi-arid areas are also set to benefit from Sh8 billion in the next five years in a World Bank and national government-funded Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project.
The ambitious initiative is aimed at empowering pastoralists economically and cushion them against losses occasioned by perennial droughts.
Some of the beneficiary counties include West Pokot, Baringo, Samburu, Turkana, Wajir, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Tana River, Garissa, Narok, Lamu, Marsabit, Kajiado and Mandera.