A few weeks ago, my grandmother visited us from the village; one of our relatives was down with typhoid. Typhoid bacteria mostly enters someone’s body after ingesting contaminated food or water. In Africa and Kenya, water is generally the main cause of typhoid. This prompted me to ask grandmother how her generation survived without typhoid, amoeba and other water borne disease, yet they did not have tapped water let alone bottled water. “We took very good care of our environment…” she started. They had a stream that they drew water from, they believed that this was ‘God’s water’ because it sprouted from a hole and it was sweet. Others sunk boreholes for their water needs. “I just learned of this disease called typhoid when I was an old woman…” she continued. Apparently it was only until the late 90’s that she started boiling drinking water and using chlorine to sterilize water. Before, when they needed to ‘purify’ water, they would put in a clay pot, wait for it to settle, then filter the water using a cloth and it safe to drink.
The Situation Now
Many African countries and their governments are facing challenges in providing for their citizens’ clean and safe drinking water, this has been mainly because of the degradation of the environment and scarcity of water. According to UNICEF, more than a billion people lack safe drinking water with 2 billion living without adequate sanitation. The increased rural – urban migration in most countries has increased the number of slums hence no proper drainage systems. Sewage has found its way to the once clean rivers, lakes and streams, contaminating the water. With the remittance of gases from the factories, acidic rain have been experienced hence the water not safe for drinking. The cutting down of tree is not helping the situation.
The Way Forward
1.8 million people die every year because of diseases caused by contaminated and unsafe water according to WHO (World Health Organization). Most of these being children under 5 years in developing countries. Organizations have come up with programmes to reduce the rate of mortality. For instance, the Kenyan government as well as other organizations, example water.org, WHO and ACF international have come up with ways of reducing mortality by contaminated water. These include; construction of boreholes, decontaminating wells, protection of natural streams, installation of storage pumps and reservoirs. As well as education of the citizens on hygiene and sanitation and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure. The cleaning of the Nairobi river project is one of the projects set so as the river can be saved and the water used. This was started by the late former minister for environment Honourable John Michuki and is ongoing and has brought about improvement hence there is hope.
The MYC4 Way
MYC4 is also aiding citizens in the East African countries acquire clean and safe water. This is by availing funds to business men to acquire water storage equipment as well as provide clean water to their customers. Emmah Wambui is one of the MYC4 borrowers who benefited from funds that enable her to buy water tanks for storage so as to supply her customers with clean water. This may seem as a drop in an ocean, but is a step towards the right direction. If everyone took the same step, then the aim could be achieved sooner rather than later.
So, I wanted to know what happened to ‘Gods water’ because I had visited the country side many times and never seen it. “It disappeared!” grandmother says, apparently some developers came with the idea of building taps on the source, then the water just disappeared, even after the construction was demolished… For tomorrow to come, we must take care of our environment now, lest we extinct with the trees, the rivers and the lakes.