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Water Scarcity in Kenya: Current Status, Challenges and Future Solutions


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Growing water demand and water scarcity have turned into a prominent challenge to livelihood in several parts worldwide. Global warming, water pollution, population growth, urbanization, and poor management of water resources have aggravated the issue of the water crisis. Water scarcity is ex-pected to affect socio-economic activities, food security, education, health, and intensity climate change, hereby has caught the attention of the public. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, Clean water and sanitation, sets various targets to make water sustainable for use by the year 2030. However, water scarcity assessment remains a challenge. Kenya, which has a growing population, is known as a water-scarce country due to its low supply of renewable freshwater (<1000 m3/capita/year). Different initiatives are put in place to help in the mitigation and management of water resources. They include water policies to ensure the protection of water catchment areas, reduction of pollution as well as enhancing access to clean water and sanitation. This paper reviewed some of the water scarcity challenges in Kenya and potential future solutions.
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Open Access Library Journal
2021, Volume 8, e7096
ISSN Online: 2333-9721
ISSN Print: 2333-9705
10.4236/oalib.1107096 Jan. 20, 2021 1 Open Access Library
Water Scarcity in Kenya: Current Status,
Challenges and Future Solutions
Faith Mulwa1,2, Zhuo Li2,3*, Fangnon Firmin Fangninou1,2
1UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development, College of Environmental Science and Engineering,
Tongji University, Shanghai, China
2State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, College of Environmental Science & Engineering,
Tongji University, Shanghai, China
3Shanghai Institute of Pollution Control and Ecological Security, Shanghai, China
Growing water demand and water scarcity have turned into a prominent
challenge to livelihood in several parts worldwide. Global warming, water
pollution, population growth, urbanization, and poor management of water
resources have aggravated the issue of the water crisis. Water scarcity is ex-
pected to affect socio-
economic activities, food security, education, health,
and intensity climate change, hereby has caught the attention of the public.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6
, Clean water and
sanitation, sets various targets to make water sustainable for use by the year
2030. However, water scarcity assessment remains a challenge. Kenya, which
has a growing population, is known as a water-
scarce country due to its low
supply of renewable freshwater (<1000 m3
/capita/year). Different initiatives
are put in place to help in the mitigation and management of water resources.
They include water policies to ensure the protection of water catchment
areas, reduction of pollution as well
as enhancing access to clean water and
sanitation. This paper reviewed some of the water scarcity challenges in
Kenya and potential future solutions.
Subject Areas
Water Scarcity, Kenya, Water Resources, Indicators, Policy
1. Introduction
Water is an indispensable resource not only for sustaining all life but also for
How to cite this paper:
Mulwa, F., Li
, Z.
Fangninou, F.F. (2021)
Water Scarcity
in Kenya: Current Status, Challenges and
Future Solutions
Open Access Library
: e7096.
December 18, 2020
January 17, 2021
January 20, 2021
© 2021 by author(s) and Open
Access Library Inc
This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution International
License (CC BY
Open Access
F. Mulwa et al.
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human socio-economic development. Global water demand is likely to surpass
supply by more than 40% by 2030 and by more than 50% in the developing
countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa [1]. Consequently, over four billion
people are facing severe water scarcity at least one month annually, while half a
billion people experience severe water scarcity throughout the year [2]. Fur-
thermore, estimates show that by 2050, 90% of the 3 billion people are expected
to be added to the population of those who will be from developing countries
and areas facing challenges of clean water and sanitation [3]. Population increase
will eventually result in reduced per capita availability of water [4].
The water scarcity situation has worsened in most developing countries due to
rapid population growth, economic development and urbanization which has
made it so difficult to address the issue as well as providing adequate sanitation
services [5]. A country is defined as water-stressed if the per capita water availa-
bility is below 1700 m3 per year. Kenya is among the water-scarce countries
across the world with per capita availability below 1000 m3 annually [6]. The
struggle for accessing clean and safe water is a problem experienced by more
than 18 million people today. Previous studies indicate that only about 56% of
the population has the access to a clean water supply [7]. Citizens mainly those
in rural areas are forced to travel long distances of up to 8 miles to reach water
that is highly polluted and even unsafe for human consumption [7].
The growth of Kenyas urban population and rapid urbanization of the rural
areas is on the rise hence increasing domestic water demand, industrial and
agricultural uses. However, challenges faced in the water sector, such as popula-
tion pressure, water scarcity, climate change and water quality cannot be unde-
restimated. To achieve the 2030 Agenda, water scarcity is a priority issue to be
addressed [8]. The increasing rate of wastewater production with inadequate
wastewater treatment resources and systems that are insufficient has led to ef-
fluent discharge into river systems. This not only leads to the degradation of
downstream ecosystems but also causes health problems to humans [9]. There is
a dire need for developing countries to shift from current water management
practices to sustainable ways such as water reuse [10] as well as embarking on
massive water development projects [11]. Population growth has caused an im-
balance between water demand and supply in the country. This has led to a state
of water crisis to the people hence incapable of meeting their water needs. How-
ever, policy frameworks are enacted to enhance management of the resources.
This paper reviews the status of management of water resources, some of the
challenges of water scarcity in Kenya. We hypothesize that a better understand-
ing of water scarcity is important because it affects both the users and policy-
makers regarding the urgency to address the water crisis as well as their views on
the most effective policies to address the crisis. Therefore, we further examine
future solutions in water management that will help in the improvement of the
water sector, the policies and regulations set to ensure that water laws are ad-
hered to.
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2. Water Resources in Kenya
Kenyas natural renewable water resources mainly rely on little and fragile cat-
chments covered by the montane forests in the countrys highland areas with a
humid climate. The main five water towers in the country include Mt. Elgon,
Cherangani Hills, Mau Forest Complex, Aberdare Ranges and Mt. Kenya. How-
ever, they are the main sources of many rivers in Kenya, feeding into major
lakes, including Lake Victoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Lake Baringo, Lake
Natron, and Lake Turkana [12]. Kenyas water resources are considered to be
unevenly distributed, both across and within as shown in Figure 1 [13]. The
catchments contribute to over 75% of the nations surface water resources. Table
1 shows the condition of the main catchments. Currently, the government has a
challenge in agricultural development sector and growth of the countrys eco-
nomic status [14].
Figure 1. Kenya’s water towers [13].
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Table 1. Status of the main water catchment areas in Kenya [18].
Watershed name Catchment
area (ha)
Max. altitude (m)
Gazetted forest
area (ha) Main river
Mt. Kenya 1,253,959 5199 203,145
(4% cropland) Tana, Athi
Aberdare 1,097,895 4001 104,078
(11% cropland) Ewaso Ngiro, Athi
Mau Forest Complex 874,746 3098 404,706
(25% cropland) Mara, Nyando, Yala
Cherangani Hills 212,267 3365 120,841
(19% cropland) Nzoia, Turkwell
Mt. Elgon 2 49,996 4320 72,547
(15% cropland) Nzoia, Turkwell
Figure 2 depicts that overall Kenyas renewable resources per capita [15]. Ke-
nyans are consuming about 33 billion m3, of which their total renewable water
resources only amount to 30.7 billion m3, this results in a difference of 2.7 m3
[16]. Additionally, some studies show that Kenya has 15% of its available water
resources developed. This water is not easily accessible due to the increase in
costs of water access or even technical challenges [17].
3. Rundown of Typical Water Scarcity Indicators
Since the late 1980s, when water scarcity was recognized to be a concern, many
indicators have been developed to help in assessing water scarcity status adapta-
ble to any area of the world [19]. Moreover, a comprehensive assessment of wa-
ter quality and quantity status is important for global, regional, national, and lo-
cal policy-relevant.
3.1. The Falkenmark Indicator
The Falkenmark Indicator requires the number of people living in a given spatial
domain and the volume of water available in that domain [20]. The water vo-
lume available per person is then calculated in m3/cap/year. The indicator relies
on population hence leading to the Water Crowding Index (WCI), which meas-
ures the number of people per unit of available water. A value of 1700
m3/cap/year of renewable freshwater was suggested to be the threshold for water
scarcity below which social stress and high competition for water emerge [21]. If
water availability falls below 1000 m3/cap/year then the area experiences high
water scarcity while below 500 m3/cap/year is absolute scarcity. This indicator
disregards temporal variability and some important drivers of demand which are
related to economic growth, lifestyle as well as technological developments [22].
Management practices and infrastructure are not contemplated by the index,
therefore, the simple threshold does not reflect the true spatial distribution of
demand within the domains over which the index is normally calculated.
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Figure 2. Total renewable resources per capita in Kenya [15].
In Kenya, population growth has been used as the main determinant of water
scarcity. However, this is quite deceptive since population growth is not only the
aspect that influences water use. Such a scenario is menacing and may lead to
skewed policy formulation.
3.2. Water Use to Availability Ratio
The relationship between water use and water availability (criticality ratio) eva-
luates the amount of water used and relates it to the available renewable water
resources [23]. This model is used spatially explicitly on a global scale with a
high-level spatial resolution [24]. Water use refers to either water consumption
or water withdrawals. Water consumption quantifies the amount that is re-
moved from rivers, lakes, or groundwater sources and evaporated into the at-
mosphere while for the case of water withdrawal, it quantifies the amount of
water that is withdrawn from these sources, where some part eventually returns
to the system by either leakage or return flow. Previous studies have used the ex-
isting water scarcity withdrawal to indicate water use [25]. According to [26],
water consumption is much smaller compared to withdrawal, the ratio of con-
sumption to average available renewable water resources usually specifies an
unrealistic low level of water scarcity. Therefore, as per this model, a high level
of water stress occurs given that water withdrawal exceeds 40% of the available
water resources [23]. However, parts of water withdrawal return to the water
bodies, and the actual proportion of the return flow vary across regions. It ob-
vious this depends on the natural, social-economic, and various technical condi-
tions. Therefore, using 40% as a water scarcity threshold, may not be consistent
in specifying the status of water scarcity across different regions.
3.3. Physical and Economic Water Scarcity
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) used this indicator for
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evaluating water scarcity by combining both physical and economic water scar-
city [27]. IWMI considers the amount of water supply from renewable freshwa-
ter resources for human consumption while accounting for the existing water
infrastructure such as desalinization plants and water stored in reservoirs. This
index considers an individual countrys potential to develop water infrastructure
as well as improving irrigation water use efficiency. Their analysis yielded
five-country groupings. Country groupings were used to define whether coun-
tries are either economic or physical water stress [28]. Physical scarcity happens
where countries are not able to meet the estimated water demand in 2025, even
after accounting for the national adaptive capacity while economic scarcity oc-
curs when countries have sufficient renewable water resources but in order to
make the resources available for consumption by 2025, they are expected to have
investments mostly in water infrastructure. The limitation of the IWMI model is
its considered to be more complex and time-consuming in computation. How-
ever, the interpretation is said to be less intuitive hence less attractive for pres-
entation to public or policy audience [28].
3.4. Water Poverty Index
The Water Poverty Index (WPI) examines the link in the physical extent of wa-
ter availability, ease of abstraction and the level of community well-being [29]. It
features five key components such as water quantity, quality and variability; wa-
ter access for human consumption; water use for different purposes; peoples
ability to water management; and environmental components. The WPI eva-
luates the situation facing poor water endowments along with poor adaptive ca-
pacity. The WPI is calculated with the weighted average components, each of
which is first standardized so that it falls in the range 0 to 100; thus the resulting
WPI value is also in the range of 0 and 100, representing the lowest and the
highest level of water poverty [30]. The indicator has the benefit of comprehen-
siveness. Its implementation is hampered by its complexity and lack of adequate
information for some components required for establishing the indicator on
large scale [28].
4. Spatial Distribution of Water Scarcity
Uneven distribution of water may be linked to precipitation, the geographical
landscapes, availability, population distribution as well as socio-economic fac-
tors. However, variation in the water supply occurs when the supply during dry
seasons does not meet the demand, and this could be with the total quantity and
quality supplied and the reliability of supply [31] [32]. From previous studies
done in 2014, 31.6% of Kenyas population use unimproved drinking-water
sources, involving 7.3% of the population use unprotected dug wells, 4.4% un-
protected springs, 1.5% tanker trucks or carts with drum, and 18.4% surface wa-
ter [33]. The higher number (85.7%) of the urban population have access to im-
proved drinking-water sources, whilst about half (41.5%) of the rural population
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use unimproved drinking-water sources [33]. Unimproved water sources such as
unprotected dug wells and surface water (that includes untreated water from
rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes) have been illustrated as shown in Figure 3
[33]. However, areas of Western and Central Kenya have a higher unprotected
dug wells occupancy and surface water is sparsely distributed in Eastern Kenya
5. Challenges and Impacts of Water Scarcity in Kenya
Water management is a major challenge in Kenya across the decades. However,
water scarcity has led to poor sanitation and poor hygiene collectively posing
substantial health risks, particularly in low-income regions and eventually con-
tributing to the emergence of some diseases. Water shortage in Kenya is largely
pronounced in rural areas and largely in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs)
which has led to the strain on women and children having the task of searching
for water especially for domestic use. Water shortage has caused children to be
more vulnerable by affecting their education life whereby in some regions,
children miss out from attending school in search of water. Children living in
low-income areas and especially in informal settlements are vulnerable; hence
resulting to morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhea and consump-
tion of unsafe water. Reports done by the Disease Control Priority Project shows
that 90% of the deaths can be avoided through improved sanitation, hygiene and
water supply.
Figure 3. Distribution of unprotected dug wells and surface
water points in various regions across Kenya [33].
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5.1. Population Growth and Urbanization
Kenya’s population has been rising since 1948 to date (Figure 4) [34]. The
population growth rate estimate is at least 2.6% per annum. Therefore, this
implies that the population is predicted to grow to about 53 million by the
end of the plan period in 2022 as per the projections of the Kenya National
Bureau of Statistics. Kenya highly depends on natural resources and in par-
ticular agriculture, the growing population will face considerable pressure on
water resources including encroachment of marginal lands to cater for human
settlement. It is projected that 70% of the world’s population may live in ur-
ban areas by 2050 [35]. Population growth continues to increase the water
demand in the agricultural sector, industrial and domestic uses (Figure 5)
[36]. Lack of access to clean water is one of the major challenges among the
urban population in Kenya. Rapid urbanization has caused many people
across the country unable to cope with the high demand for a clean and suffi-
cient water supply.
Figure 4. Population growth trends in Kenya [34].
Figure 5. Population growth in relation to total water demand for all sectors in Kenya
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Figure 6. Institutional setup for water management and provision in Kenya under Water Act 2002 (Adapted from
[43] [44]).
5.2. Water Pollution
Water pollution has affected water quality due to various pollutants such as
chemical, microbiological, thermal pollutants among others [37]. Chemical con-
tamination may result from the presence of excess nutrients, heavy metal con-
tents, salinity, acidification, and changes in sediment loads. However, microbio-
logical contamination can result from the presence of either bacteria, viruses or
protozoa present in water. Studies indicate that 32.5% of industries and 14% of
agriculture are key contributors to the economic development of a population
[38]. In contrast, 80% of water pollution and contamination come from these
two sectors. Growth and development of agricultural sector in Kenya have led to
an increase in the use of fertilizers. Agrochemicals eventually enter into water
bodies causing pollution. Furthermore, some industrial and the country gov-
ernments sewage plants may release partially treated or completely untreated ef-
fluents into the surface water sources containing high levels of toxic substances.
As a result, this affects most people living in the urban informal settlements due
to lack of access to clean water hence causing disease outbreaks affecting their
health and livelihoods.
5.3. Encroachment of Water Catchment
Kenyas forest cover is currently at 6.99% of its land area which is below the Ke-
nyan constitutional requirement of 10% [39]. Kenyas forests support five major
catchment areas namely: Mount Kenya, Aberdare Range, Cherangani Hills, Mt.
Elgon and Mau Forest Complex.
These water sources are “Kenyas water towers” as they form the upper cat-
chment of all except one main river in Kenya. These water catchment areas with
a coverage of only 2% of the total land area provide important services to the
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economy of Kenya as well as supporting transboundary water bodies, underlying
their regional and international importance [40]. Some activities like poor
farming practices and deforestation lead to the degradation of these water cat-
chment areas. The catchment degradation has led to increased surface runoff,
flash floods, reduction in infiltration, erosion and siltation among others. Pro-
tection of the catchment environment is vital for the security and sustainability
of urban water supply and the minimization of water scarcity. These water tow-
ers have been damaged severely due to human encroachment, agricultural activ-
ities, rapid human population growth, illegal logging, charcoal burning, water
pollution and other illegal abstractions by some industries and urban settle-
ments. Land cover changes may cause negative impacts both within the forest
and downstream in the form of water shortages, health problems, and desertifi-
cation as well.
6. Solutions to Water Scarcity: Sustainable and Integrated
Future prospects are important for the type of solutions that would be appropri-
ate in solving water scarcity issues in Kenya. Different techniques have been
used to solve the issue of water scarcity. Water recycling and reuse are some of
the reliable techniques which have been recognized as adaptive solutions to wa-
ter scarcity, considering water reuse has the concept of a circular economy.
However, the adoption of advanced technological solutions and practices that
improve water use efficiency by users should be a primary goal for water man-
agement to reduce water loss, support the sustainability of water resources, and
increase the economic profitability of water.
6.1. Water Scarcity and SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Clean water and sanitation remain vital for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable De-
velopment, yet Kenya has achieved less when it comes to ensuring the availabili-
ty and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all [41]. The Sus-
tainable Development Goal 6, target 6.4 relates to water use and scarcity, where
it illustrates that: “By 2030, substantially increasing water-use efficiency across
all sectors and ensuring the sustainable withdrawals and supply of fresh water in
order to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people
affected by water scarcity.” [42]. The SDG guidance notes that a “high level of
water stress can have negative impact on the economic development, increased
competition and have potential conflict among different users, which calls for
the effective supply and demand management policies as well as an increase in
water-use efficiency. The key point for water managers and policymakers is that
the portion of overall water that can effectively be used to meet demand at the
right place can be enhanced by implementing appropriate policies or interven-
tions, such as reducing the direct surface runoff through catchment restoration,
water transport, and water storage technologies.
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6.2. Water Policy and Implications
Water Act was enacted in Kenya to mainly provide the management, conserva-
tion, use and the control of water resources and for the regulation of rights to
water usage; provision of regulations and management of water supply and se-
werage services; to repeal the Water Act (Cap. 372) and provisions of Local
Government Act; and other related purposes. The Act aims at improving the
living standards among different people by ensuring proper access to water ser-
vices. However, it provides management and development of water resources
supply and sewerage development, intending to conserve, protect available water
resources and allocate suitably and economically as well as supplying water in
sufficient quantities to meet the various water needs while ensuring safe disposal
of water. This Act therefore clearly outlines methods and ways of ensuring that
water is availed to all and its provision is ensured and managed adequately and
Kenya has enacted policies at the national and regional levels to guide the
conservation and management of its water resources. Crucial reforms have been
set up in the water sector that culminates in the enactment of the Water Act of
2002 and the consequent formation of various Water Resource Users Associa-
tions (WRUAs) by the Water Resource Management Authority. The National
Policy on Water Resources Management and Development through the Water
Act 2002 guides the water resources management and the provision of water
services in the country (Figure 6) [43] [44]. The Water Sector Trust Fund
(WSTF) was established under the Water Act and restructured from the Water
Services Trust Fund to Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF). The mandate of
WSTF is financing water and sanitation services in the country. The establish-
ment of these institutions aims to organize the water sector in the country and
by ensuring that the anticipated universal access to water is achieved.
The Water Act 2016 establishes a Water Resources Authority which is a regu-
latory authority mandated to perform the following functions: 1) Formulation
and the enforcement standards, procedures and regulations for the management
and use of water resources and flood mitigation; 2) Regulation of water re-
sources use and management; 3) Receiving water permit applications for water
abstraction, water use and recharge and decision making, issue, vary water per-
mits; and enforce the conditions of those permits.
6.3. Integrated Approaches to Water Scarcity
Based on the present water demand and the future national development plans,
Kenya would face a huge gap between water demand and the available water
supply in the years to come. Sustainable development and management of water
resources is therefore critical and should effectively be addressed by respective
government institutions, various development partners, civil society groups and
the private sectors. Kenya can boost its water productivity in a short-term period
by harmonizing and strengthening the existing and established multi-level water
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management bodies such as the Catchment Area Advisory Committees, Water
Users Associations and Water Resource Management Authority. In order to im-
prove the availability of a sustainable water supply, conservation and the restora-
tion of national water catchment areas, as well as a strategic investment in the
additional dams, is key. In addition, the construction of efficient water treatment
plants should be a priority for urban water and sewerage companies in order to
facilitate water treatment and re-use. Green or nature-based solutions can help
in the improvement of water supply and shortage, thus increasing water availa-
bility [45]. This is important particularly in the current world considering ex-
pectations that water shortage would worsen in Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of
climate change drought risk causing the decline of water levels of dams and
freshwater supply sources [46] [47]. Water scarcity and security issues will be
exacerbated by recent trends of climate variability and the consequent rise in
droughts. Thus, climate-resilient water resource management will require an in-
tegrated strategy to ensure resilience for water-related policy making to address
both short- and long-term impacts of climate change by balancing robustness
with flexibility. With future uncertainties and the likelihood of other potential
infectious disease outbreaks, there is a need for robust adaptation options that
have the primary objective of supporting sustainable water resource use.
7. Conclusion
Access to clean and safe drinking water is a problem faced by almost half of
Kenyas population. The demand for adequate and clean water supply is rising
due to the increasing population, and in the response to global aim in the
achievement to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To address the
water scarcity issues, a strategic plan has been put in place through the construc-
tion of large and medium dams to store water as well as investing in groundwa-
ter storage through managed aquifer recharge by making use of stormwater gen-
erated during the rainy seasons. Some challenges such as forest fragmentation,
poor water management and contamination of water sources are possibly solva-
ble, the frequency and droughts and floods occurrence are an indicator of cli-
matic change which is likely to become more unpredictable in the future.
The first author would wish to thank the third author for the invaluable support
in the compilation of this paper.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this pa-
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... The country is characterized by strong gradients in precipitation, aridity, water yield (i.e. amount of precipitation minus total actual evapotranspiration) and water scarcity (Mulwa et al., 2021;Wamucii et al., 2021). Furthermore, recent drought impact reports are also freely accessible for specific Kenyan counties. ...
... The discrepancies between the increased distance from water sources and the water scarcity index could be explained by the fact that the streamflow data used for developing the WS dataset were calculated without taking into account the presence of reservoirs, located mainly in the central-western areas of Kenya (Lehner et al., 2011;Mulwa et al., 2021). In addition, the WS dataset uses population data as a proxy for water demand. ...
... The WS dataset suggests that water resources were sufficient to meet the water demand in the arid and semiarid regions of Kenya during drought events. However, water insecurity in the ASAL regions was high during periods of drought (FEWS NET, 2017), possibly due to inefficient water management, for example poor maintenance of water supply systems (related in turn to corruption and poverty) (Bellaubi and Boehm, 2018;Jenkins, 2017;Mulwa et al., 2021). The sub-humid central-western counties, on the other hand, could have experienced water scarcity during periods of drought due to the high population density and hence the high pressure on available water resources. ...
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The relation between drought severity and drought impacts is complex and relatively unexplored in the African continent. This study assesses the relation between reported drought impacts, drought indices, water scarcity and aridity across several counties in Kenya. The monthly bulletins of the National Drought Management Authority in Kenya provided drought impact data. A random forest (RF) model was used to explore which set of drought indices (standardized precipitation index, standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index, standardized soil moisture index and standardized streamflow index) best explains drought impacts on pasture, livestock deaths, milk production, crop losses, food insecurity, trekking distance for water and malnutrition. The findings of this study suggest a relation between drought severity and the frequency of drought impacts, whereby the latter also showed a positive relation with aridity. A relation between water scarcity and aridity was not found. The RF model revealed that every region, aggregated by aridity, had their own set of predictors for every impact category. Longer timescales (≥ 12 months) and the standardized streamflow index were strongly represented in the list of predictors, indicating the importance of hydrological drought to predict drought impact occurrences. This study highlights the potential of linking drought indices with text-based impact reports while acknowledging that the findings strongly depend on the availability of drought impact data. Moreover, it emphasizes the importance of considering spatial differences in aridity, water scarcity and socio-economic conditions within a region when exploring the relationships between drought impacts and indices.
... This is manifested in the lower number of people with safe access to water in rural areas (AMCOW, 2018;Howard & Han, 2020). Reasons for the persistent inadequate water security and supply in rural areas in Kenya have been highlighted (Man'gera, 2017;MoWSI, 2022;Mulwa et al., 2021). They conclude, on the one hand, that the Kenyan government's focus on the commercialization of the water sector is leading to low investment in rural water infrastructure, primarily due to significantly higher investment costs for rural areas and lower compensation through pricing, given the low incomes inherent in rural communities (Aroka, 2010;Man'gera, 2017;Mutschinski & Coles, 2021), while, on the other hand, the Kenyan government organization is still influenced by post-colonial development partners who guide uncoordinated investments that are either not sustainable or maintained at operational levels by the government and thus do not lead to any improvement in water availability. ...
... According to Mutschinski and Coles (2021), support for rural water infrastructure is not sufficiently targeted or invested in, due to the different challenges (e.g., water scarcity, increased demand, and poor management) in the Kenyan water sector (Chepyegon & Kamiya, 2018;MoWIS, 2022;Mulwa et al., 2021). As an approach to promote water supply in rural areas and further strengthen the resilience against climate change, self-sufficient approaches like RWH offer attractive solutions with various economic, social, and ecological advantages (Man'gera, 2017;MBungua, 1994;Odhiambo et al., 2022;Oweis et al., 2012). ...
... As an approach to promote water supply in rural areas and further strengthen the resilience against climate change, self-sufficient approaches like RWH offer attractive solutions with various economic, social, and ecological advantages (Man'gera, 2017;MBungua, 1994;Odhiambo et al., 2022;Oweis et al., 2012). While this approach is supported by the government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and external organizations, there are no clear guidelines or processes in Kenya for funding, technical assistance, or promoting community collaboration associated with RWH systems (Mulwa et al., 2021). The overarching legislation the Water Act 2016 does not mention the possibility of applying RWH strategies to improve the water supply and climate resilience of rural communities. ...
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The African Water Vision 2025 emphasized the disadvantages of the rural population in the context of water supply infrastructure, water management, and access. The vision extolled the virtues of providing improved decentralized governance and localized actions to deliver on this agenda. Furthermore, policies and investment should support climate resilience, by strengthening the security and availability of adequate water quality and quantity in rural communities, for example, by mainstreaming the adoption of rainwater harvesting systems. This is reflected in the government policy alignment towards enabling a devolution of responsibilities to regional and local political structures, while addressing concerns linked with water availability, climate change, and its impact on a country's water resources in Kenya. Despite efforts through different strategic plans and policies, there is a perceived gap between the general understanding of the importance of the RWH system at the national level and actions at the operational level in the counties. An absence of formal policy frameworks and coordination of investments has resulted in insufficient adoption and implementation of RWH systems in Kenya to date. This is despite the fact that in some counties, RWH systems are considered a key solution for increasing climate resilience and suggestions for improvement have been formulated by the affected communities. This analysis shows that RWH systems strengthen the resilience of rural populations but are dependent on a well‐formulated governmental structure, which could be improved by refining national policies and investment in RWH systems.
... There is a prediction that by 2030 global water demand be more than supply by 40% and also that 50% of nations in the sub-Saharan part of Africa most especially will suffer from water crisis [1]. In Kenya, water scarcity has resulted from limited access to water resources as a result of climate change, floods, forest degradation, insufficient rainfall, improper disposal of wastes, increase in human and animal population, improper management of available water resources which affects a large number of people who rely on water for agriculture and fishing [2,3]. Many rural households lack access to enough water for their daily need. ...
... Many rural households lack access to enough water for their daily need. Studies have been made on the current water status of Kenya and reports identified that Kenya is amongst waterscarce nations having water per capita availability of below 1000 m 3 yearly [3]. In the Njoro sub-county of Kenya, drinking water is obtained mostly by harvesting from rain, boreholes, springs, wells, and rivers [4,5]. ...
Water pollution from rivers and lakes has resulted in serious environmental issues on a global scale. The public's growing concern over the decline in river and lake water quality makes it more important than ever to assess the water quality of these bodies of water over a prolonged period of time. During the rainy and dry seasons of 2022, 120 water samples were collected from 5 monitoring stations located within River Njoro and Lake Nakuru. The samples underwent physicochemical analysis of selected water parameters, which included salinity, temperature, pH, turbidity, total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), electric conductivity (EC), and total dissolved solids (TDS). The results were compared using the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) of Kenya's guidelines and the results showed that the water quality of the Njoro river and Lake Nakuru fluctuated with the seasons, particularly in the lower water column of river Njoro. The quality parameters had the following values; EC values range between 73.33 ± 0.55 μs/cm - 533.33 ± 0.64 - μs/cm, respectively for both seasons; Salinity values range from 0.085 ± 0.02 ppt - 2.59 ± 0.03 ppt; pH values were between 8.8 – 9.3; Temperature was 23.69 ± 0.07 °C – 14.22± 0.07°C; Turbidity varied significantly – 13.95 ± 0.27 NTU - 36.03 ± 0.35 NTU; TDS between 46.67 ± 0.11 ppm- 243.33 ± 0.04 ppm; TN ranges between 5.97 ± 3.24 mg/L - 8.57 ± 3.18 mg/L and TP 7.49 ± 1.7-9.41 ± 1.84 mg/L in the dry and rainy seasons, for River Njoro and Lake Nakuru respectively. This study showed that the degree to which human activity affects water quality varies with the season. Therefore, most of these factors should be considered while controlling rivers downstream in order to ensure the health of aquatic life, also it is essential to increase lake water quality monitoring and regulate human activity. Additionally, the results revealed that water pollution resulted primarily from domestic wastewater, agricultural runoff and industrial effluents.
... "Climate change projections on water resources indicate that Kenya, will suffer from water scarcity" [88]. "Climate change impacts on water availability are a consequence of the rising global temperatures which change the water cycle by influencing when, where and how much precipitation falls and evaporate, and such water is not always available when and where people need it. ...
... Furthermore, the impact of climate change on water would result in increased demand on a reduced resource. Climate change impacts in the water sector in Kenya have been manifested through severe flooding, droughts, rising water levels in lakes, water scarcity, invasion of alien species in water bodies such as water hyacinth in Lake Victoria and other water bodies" [88]. ...
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Land as a resource remains a useful in alleviating human risks through provision of food, water, energy and environmental goods/services. There appears to be intertwined relationship between land and climate change, where climate change is perceived as a threat to land, while land and land use remains a major factor in climate change. There are however, few studies that have explored these intricate interrelationships between climate change and land as a nexus approach especially at the local levels. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to bring to light the interconnectedness between land and climate change and land, as well as assesses land impacts on climate change, in Kenya, and further suggests strategies needed to address these issues from a multidimensional perspective in the policy-making process. Scoping review was used to gather data from academic journal articles, book chapters, global databases, national database and conference papers. The objective of scoping reviews is to provide a broad overview of the literature on a specific topic and identify patterns, trends, knowledge clusters, and gaps. The study also obtained secondary data from various sources in the study. The study established that land-use influence climate change through agricultural expansion, urbanization, activities in catchment areas, large scale settlements, deforestation, manufacturing and industrial activities. Climate change then impact the land through reduction in agricultural activities and production, negatives on the forest ecosystems, reducing water resources, as well as detriment to quality of human, 2229 animal and plants life. The study concludes that land use change is a major driver of climate change and climate change drives land use activities in a nexus. To further this research, the study recommends ways of exploring land-sensitive approaches to climate change and land use management in a nexus a approach. The nexus approach that allows for the inter-linkages, trade-offs, and synergies existing between climate and land resources need to be developed.
... Nowadays, more and more countries and regions are facing a freshwater crisis due to climate change and population growth [3,4]. The freshwater crisis is expected to worsen in the future, with the water-scarce population reaching 3 billion worldwide by 2025 [1,5]. Hence, many efforts have been made to solve the freshwater crisis in the past decades [6][7][8]. ...
... To achieve the objective, the authors applied a crop simulation model. Ref. [7] studied the case of Kenya, which is known as a water-scarce country due to its low renewable freshwater supply (<1000 m 3 /capita/year). Alternatives were sought to address these problems, and various solutions were proposed, such as the regulation of water-use rights; the regulation and management of the water supply and sewerage services; water sanitation (all of which are contemplated in the strategic plan through the construction of large and medium dams to store water, as well as the investment in groundwater storage); and water management. ...
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Water scarcity is a growing problem in many regions worldwide. According to the United Nations, around one-fifth of the world’s population lives in areas where water is scarce. Another one-quarter of the world’s population has to face water supply cuts, mainly because this proportion of the population lacks the necessary infrastructure to acquire water from rivers and aquifers (UN, 2005). Water is a resource that is essential to human survival and is also present in all productive processes in the economy. Therefore, we are challenged to adequately manage water to ensure the population’s well-being and to achieve socioeconomic development. Specifically, this paper analyzes the situation present in the summer of 2022 at Riudecanyes (a village in Catalonia, Spain), where a drought problem exists. We propose applying the conflicting claims problem theory to give possible solutions to distribute the water. We propose to use this theory to describe the distribution of the available irrigation hours in 2022, considering the demand made by the farmers in the previous year, when there was regular irrigation.
... Nhamo et al. [4] believe that farmers' ability to source agricultural input reduces transportation costs, improves access to credit and information, and ultimately improves farmers' livelihoods. Analogous to farmland located around the inaccessible route is the farmers' inability to timely source agricultural inputs with resultant negative impacts on their performance and livelihoods, including but not limited to reduced crop yield, decreased quality of produce (Ali et al., 2020), increased production costs [5], and vulnerability to climate change (Faye et al., 2021). ...
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The effect of farm accessibility and market proximity on the farmer's food production capacity remains unclear. The main concern is how farmers' productive ability is influenced by market-farms accessibility and proximity. Optimal food production is contingent on the ease of accessibility to purchase farming inputs and an enabling environment for farmers to maximize their benefits. As important as the accessibility vis-à-vis facilitating farmers' movement from farm to market in the agricultural production process, the required attention is lacking in the scheme to reposition agriculture and promote food self-sufficiency. Previous studies examined the market location outside the present study area and they did not examine farmers' technical efficiency and its determinant. This paper used remote sensing and GIS technique and a parametric model to first examine the location pattern of the agricultural input market and estimated farmers' technical efficiency and its determinants. The Nearest Neighbor Index (NNI) of 2.15 and a z score of 5.41 revealed a proximity differential in the location of agricultural input markets indicating that the Original Research Article 9 markets are dispersed and not equidistant from the farmlands. In addition, the efficiency estimation did not return labour as a significant variable, however, herbicide, fertilizer, and the size of farmland cultivated were significant in reducing farmers' inefficiency. It emerged age and access to credit significantly reduced the inefficiency of the farmer's production process. The outcome of the study suggests more use of GIS and RS to solve agricultural challenges; improving accessibility by tarring more roads; intensely training farmers before loan disbursement and paying attention to variables promoting inefficiency among farmers to ensure the optimal deployment/allocation of their resources to achieve optimal production and efficiency in the study area.
... Kenya has experienced severe water shortages for many years, primarily as a result of years of repeated droughts, poor water supply management, and pollution of scarce water resources (Marshall, 2011). Moreover, Kenya is one of the world's water-scarce nations, which has led to a decline in crop productivity over time (Mulwa et al., 2021). By supplying the needed water resources directly to the plant, drip irrigation reduces water demand and decreases water evaporation losses during times of drought and water scarcity (Sijali, 2001;UNEP, 2013). ...
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p> Background. Taro ( Colocasia esculenta ) can be grown in a variety of environmental and edaphic conditions, but it is most typically grown in wetlands. The optimal conditions for its growth are two water regimes i.e., waterlogged or flooded conditions to dryland or unflooded conditions. An important criterion in crop yield is water use efficiency (WUE), and it has been suggested that crop production per unit of water used can be increased. Objectives. To determine the WUE of taro in Kenya’s sub-humid environment under different watering regimes and planting densities. Methodology. A study was conducted at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) – Embu Research Centre, during the long rains (LR) 2021, short rains (SR) 2021/2022, and long rains (LR) 2022. A factorial experiment with a split-plot layout arranged in a completely randomized block design was used. The main factor was the irrigation levels while the sub-factor was the planting density, with three replications. The three irrigation levels were at 100 %, 60 %, and 30 % based on the field capacity (FC). The planting densities used were 0.5m × 0.5m (40,000 plants ha<sup>-1</sup>), 1m × 0.5m (20,000 plants ha<sup>-1</sup>), and 1m × 1m (10,000 plants ha<sup>-1</sup>), representative of high, medium, and low planting densities respectively. Results. The WUE was influenced by season and watering regime ( P < 0.05 ). The 30% FC had the highest WUE with the 100 % FC having the lowest. The high WUE under 30 % FC (19.40 kg ha<sup>-1</sup>mm<sup>-1</sup>) was associated with the high biomass (1.97 kg) and low water use (2269.41 mm) recorded under limited water conditions. The medium (1m × 0.5m) planting density attained the highest WUE (12.16 kg ha<sup>-1</sup>mm<sup>-1</sup>) with the high planting density (0.5m × 0.5m) having the lowest (10.65 kg ha<sup>-1</sup>mm<sup>-1</sup>), though no significant differences were recorded. Implications. The varying watering regimes and planting densities in this study have different capacities to utilize the supplied water. The total taro biomass increased with decrease in water supplied and in turn maximized the water use efficiency. Conclusion. To achieve the highest yield per unit of water consumed, a watering regime of 30 % FC and a planting density of 1 m × 0.5 m (20,000 plants ha<sup>-1</sup>) is recommended. </div
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Increased urbanisation coupled with inadequate awareness of the public on the issue of freshwater resource management has affected the use and the availability of freshwater resources in urban areas of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Lake Victoria has been the clearest example, with the water level decreasing 0.005 m/year from 1993 to 2016 causing an overall drop of 0.115 m. In order to develop sustainable methods for addressing these issues, this paper critically reviews the different legal frameworks used in each country (Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania) adopted to manage the water resources and identifies the challenges faced by each legal framework applied. It also analyses the education systems implemented within these three nations to educate students at various levels about water resources and identifies the challenges involved in each system. Finally, suggestions are made for future research to be conducted to obtain specific benefits for better management of water resources in East Africa.
Bacterial contamination in fruits and vegetables cultivated in urban and peri-urban areas constitutes a serious public health risk. This paper investigates bacterial contamination in irrigation water of the Nairobi-Machakos counties interface, Kenya. Sixty-six irrigation water samples were tested for total coliforms, Escherichia coli, Shigella spp. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus faecalis, Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella typhi, BOD, COD, and pH. Results shows a high load of bacterial pathogens in all samples except for Salmonella typhi, which tested negative. Based on Kenya's standards and WHO guidelines, the irrigation water samples are unfit for fruit and vegetable irrigation. Urgent and effective measures are required, including regular monitoring, sensitisation, and enforcement of phytosanitary and regulatory measures.
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Water point mapping databases, generated through surveys of water sources such as wells and boreholes, are now available in many low and middle income countries, but often suffer from incomplete coverage. To address the partial coverage in such databases and gain insights into spatial patterns of water resource use, this study investigated the use of a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) approach to predict the geospatial distribution of drinking-water sources, using two types of unimproved sources in Kenya as illustration. Geographic locations of unprotected dug wells and surface water sources derived from the Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) database were used as inputs to the MaxEnt model alongside geological/hydrogeological and socio-economic covariates. Predictive performance of the MaxEnt models was high (all > 0.9) based on Area Under the Receiver Operator Curve (AUC), and the predicted spatial distribution of water point was broadly consistent with household use of these unimproved drinking-water sources reported in household survey and census data. In developing countries where geospatial datasets concerning drinking-water sources often have necessarily limited resolution or incomplete spatial coverage, the modelled surface can provide an initial indication of the geography of unimproved drinking-water sources to target unserved populations and assess water source vulnerability to contamination and hazards.
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The United Nations classifies Kenya as a water-scarce country since it has less than 1000 m3 per capita of renewable freshwater supplies. Numerous factors including global warming, contamination of drinking water, and a lack of investment in water resources have aggravated the water crisis in Kenya. Estimates indicate that only about 56% of its population has access to safe water supply. Like many developing countries, Kenya recognizes the crucial role of water in realizing its development goals. Its economic performance and poverty reduction are critically dependent on clean water availability for agriculture, industrialization, energy production and tourism among others. Similar to most developing countries, Kenya suffers from lack of human, monetary and institutional capabilities to efficiently provide clean and sufficient water to its citizens. The water shortage in the major cities is acute and chronic and has continued to worsen with increasing urbanization, water pollution and encroachment of water catchment areas by humans and invasive plant species. Despite the water challenges facing the urban populations, Kenya possesses sufficient water resources to meet demand if the available resources are properly managed. Several initiatives are being put in place in Kenya to mitigate the water challenges and protect water resources in Kenya. These include enacting of water policies to protect water catchment areas, reduce pollution and enhance access to clean water.Keywords:Kenya, Urbanization, Water Resource Crisis, Water Act and Policy, Water Kiosks
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Water scarcity has become a major constraint to socio-economic development and a threat to livelihood in increasing parts of the world. Since the late 1980s, water scarcity research has attracted much political and public attention. We here review a variety of indicators that have been developed to capture different characteristics of water scarcity. Population, water availability and water use are the key elements of these indicators. Most of the progress made in the last few decades has been on the quantification of water availability and use by applying spatially explicit models. However, challenges remain on appropriate incorporation of green water (soil moisture), water quality, environmental flow requirements, globalization and virtual water trade in water scarcity assessment. Meanwhile, inter- and intra- annual variability of water availability and use also calls for assessing the temporal dimension of water scarcity. It requires concerted efforts of hydrologists, economists, social scientists, and environmental scientists to develop integrated approaches to capture the multi-faceted nature of water scarcity.
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To sustain growing food demand and increasing standard of living, global water withdrawal and consumptive water use have been increasing rapidly. To analyze the human perturbation on water resources consistently over large scales, a number of macro-scale hydrological models (MHMs) have been developed in recent decades. However, few models consider the interaction between terrestrial water fluxes, and human activities and associated water use, and even fewer models distinguish water use from surface water and groundwater resources. Here, we couple a global water demand model with a global hydrological model and dynamically simulate daily water withdrawal and consumptive water use over the period 1979–2010, using two re-analysis products: ERA-Interim and MERRA. We explicitly take into account the mutual feedback between supply and demand, and implement a newly developed water allocation scheme to distinguish surface water and groundwater use. Moreover, we include a new irrigation scheme, which works dynamically with a daily surface and soil water balance, and incorporate the newly available extensive Global Reservoir and Dams data set (GRanD). Simulated surface water and groundwater withdrawals generally show good agreement with reported national and subnational statistics. The results show a consistent increase in both surface water and groundwater use worldwide, with a more rapid increase in groundwater use since the 1990s. Human impacts on terrestrial water storage (TWS) signals are evident, altering the seasonal and interannual variability. This alteration is particularly large over heavily regulated basins such as the Colorado and the Columbia, and over the major irrigated basins such as the Mississippi, the Indus, and the Ganges. Including human water use and associated reservoir operations generally improves the correlation of simulated TWS anomalies with those of the GRACE observations.
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Water is an issue that relates to all aspects of human development in Africa, including health, agriculture, education, economics, and even peace and stability. But the perception that Africa has perpetual water scarcity and is heading towards water crisis is challenged by a significant number of water professionals. Although most agree that Africa suffers from economic water scarcity, physical water scarcity could possibly be controlled with better water management. The large amount of international aid granted annually to Africa is a subject of criticism. This article examines the water crisis in Africa, whether it is a myth or reality, and reasons thereof, and suggests remedial measures.
Legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), persist for generations in the environment and often negatively impact endocrine functions in exposed wildlife. Protocols to assess the bioaccumulation potential of these chemicals within terrestrial systems are far less developed than for aquatic systems. Consequently, regulatory agencies in Canada, the United States, and the European Union rely primarily on aquatic information for the bioaccumulation assessment of chemicals. However, studies have shown that some chemicals that are not bioaccumulative in aquatic food webs can biomagnify in terrestrial food webs. Thus, to better understand the bioaccumulative behaviour of chemicals in terrestrial systems, we examined trophic magnification of hydrophobic POPs in an urban terrestrial food web that included an avian apex predator, the Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii). Over 100 samples were collected from various trophic levels of the food web including hawk eggs, songbirds, invertebrates, and berries and analysed for concentrations of 38 PCB congeners, 20 OCPs, 20 PBDE congeners, and 7 other brominated flame retardants listed on the Government of Canada's Chemicals Management Plan. We determined trophic magnification factors (TMFs) for contaminants that had a 50% or greater detection frequency in all biota samples and compared these terrestrial TMFs to those observed in aquatic systems. TMFs in this terrestrial food web ranged between 1.2 (0.21 SE) and 15 (4.0 SE), indicating that the majority of these POPs are biomagnifying. TMFs of the legacy POPs investigated in this terrestrial food web increased in a statistically significant relationship with both the logarithm of the octanol-air (log KOA) and octanal-water partition (log KOW) coefficients of the POPs. POPs with a log KOA >6 or a log KOW >5 exhibited biomagnification potential in this terrestrial food web.
Water–Sanitation–Hygiene (WASH) remains vital for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, yet many countries have not localised the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 6, which focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Even in leading African economies such as South Africa, many communities still use the bucket system for sanitation. Using a Composite Index drawn from three indicators whose data were available for 53 of the 54 African countries, it emerged that these states are at various stages of fulfilling the targets set out in SDG 6. The fact that some countries showed declining trends in WASH between 2000 and 2015, is an indication that it will be difficult for Africa to reach the 2030 targets. We recommend that Africa aggressively mobilise resources if it is to attain universal WASH services by 2030, along with other SDG 6-related targets.
Water scarcity and inadequate infrastructure for sanitation are two challenges that are emblematic to Kenya and other developing nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Under such circumstances, water reuse has the potential to address these challenges but only under a favourable policy environment. In this paper, policy documents were considered as the ethnographic object to understand how people talk about water reuse in Kenya through policies, plans, regulations and guidelines. Using a general inductive approach to content analysis, the findings suggest that Kenya’s policy on water reuse has progressed, especially in the recognition of the potential of reused water for addressing water scarcity, pollution, cleaner industrial production, food production, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. While many of the water reuse issues have been discussed under water and irrigation, environment and industrialization, other key sectors such as food and agriculture, housing, urban development and health remain silent on water reuse. Therefore, there is a need to take water reuse conversations beyond the water, environment, and industrialisation sectors if we are to address the water supply and wastewater management issues. Likewise, the study reminds us of the importance of foregrounding public perception and harmonized institutional arrangements in the success of water reuse in the country.