Environmentalists reckon that Kenya and other countries in East Africa could ensure water security for their economies amid climate change through large-scale water harvesting techniques.
According to John Kioli, the Executive Director and CEO of the Green Africa Foundation, construction of strategic dams to trap rainwater could alleviate water shortages during dry spells.
This would, in turn, increase resilience of communities against the harsh effects of climate change and reduce water-based human conflicts, especially in arid areas.
“Dry areas like Kitui, Makueni or Lamu have seasonal rivers. Sand dams or dykes can be constructed during the rainy seasons. This trapped water can then be effectively utilized by both the community and their animals whenever there is a water shortage,” Kioli said in an interview.
“More dams should be built in addition to the existing ones. This might even prevent people from digging their own boreholes, most of which end up drying shortly after,” he added.
Water scarcity in arid areas has in the past led to resource-based conflicts. And with the effects of climate change becoming intense, such conflicts could worsen if nothing changes.
It’s partly because of this that Green Africa Foundation has been running a grassroots sensitisation drive in such areas on climate change.
“In the Northern frontier like Wajir, Tana River or Samburu, there have been too many cases of human and animal conflict over the availability of drinking water. When water is scarce there will always be scuffles to get the natural resource thereby leading to conflicts that can be avoided” Kioli said.
Water is a basic human need and that’s why it’s one of the pillars of Sustainability Development Goals.
Climate change is, however, leading to the drying up of many streams and rivers, exacerbating the water shortage challenge.
The United Nations Development Programme projects that by 2050 at least one in four people will suffer recurring water shortages.
Yet currently, more than 80 percent of wastewater from human activities ends up discharged into rivers and seas, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
If only this water would be recycled for other uses, especially in light of a growing global population.