The 18th ,19th and 20th wars have been fought over black gold-oil however it’s now clear that the 21st century wars will be waged over water which is becoming an increasingly contradictory subject among nations across the globe.
Scientifically there is no life without water which is fast becoming the foremost depleted and scarce resource not in Kenya but also across the world.
The entire economy lifecycle heavily depends on water which plays a vital role in the production of commodities.
For a country like Kenya, whenever there is a major drought then entire economy system is largely affected simply because the economy is fully supported by the agricultural activities.
The Kenya National Bureau of Standards report indicates that between 2016-2017, the agriculture sector recorded the first negative growth of 1.1 percent since 2009.
This indicates that water plays an essential quality to the growth of the economy. According to Phyllis Wakiaga the CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the UN Global Compact Network Representative for Kenya, economies depend either directly or indirectly on industries whose main input is water. This in turn creates an impact on the effective operation of these industries which create a ripple effect in other related sectors and supply chains, consequently reaching the consumers.
“The direct use of water in production from farm to factory, and in the value chain, combined with the individual uses, will not only increase its economic value but also accelerate its depletion. Its therefore urgent that policy-makers and other stakeholders in Africa and Kenya to find ways to optimize it in a sustainable manner, “says Ms Wakiaga.
Developing and managing national water use for economic growth
She calls upon stakeholders to effectively plan, develop and manage national water use for economic growth and sustainability.
Ms Wakiaga added that: “One way we can do this is by developing an industrial water policy. Kenya is one of the countries termed by the UN as ‘Chronically water scarce’. This is because we fall below the global standard benchmark for water adequacy set at 1,000 cubic meters, registering less than 647 cubic meters of water supply. Having earmarked industrialization as one of the vehicles to deliver Vision 2030, we must start paying attention to the role of water as the main ingredient to a thriving and growing industry. An industrial water policy will therefore look at the provision, use, distribution, disposal and the reuse of water whilst upholding and replenishing the ecosystem.”
The policy should be vital at a time when increased populations in urban spaces bring along increased business activities, erode the natural resilience for water bodies, making them vulnerable to climate change and other environmental shocks. This diminishes presently available sources of fresh water whilst exacerbating the tension between the ever-growing demand for it and the dwindling supply.
“The effective industrial water policy will be the framework upon which water governance is formulated to ensure sustainability and accountability. It should focus on solving key water challenges by integrating industrial processes towards improving water accessibility, while fostering constructive relations between Industry, Government and communities. These policies would need to be contextualized and nuanced, and its implementation tailored to address the unique needs of Kenya. Its formulation should include diverse stakeholders who will contribute not only towards finding solutions for the current issues but to deliberate on future water management challenges that would compromise our Big Four Agenda and Vision 2030,” comments Ms Wakiaga.
Kenya made strides towards water management in industry that saw the formation of The Kenya Industrial Water Alliance (KIWA). KIWA is an example of a platform that was set-up to bring industry stakeholders together to build a shared understanding of what a ‘water secure’ future entails.
Ms Wakiaga noted that; “Industries and other businesses have also realized that their individual use of water cannot be viewed in isolation as increased activity or demand in one sector alters the amount of input, in terms of water, energy or raw material, needed for another sector. Hence there is bound to be a burgeoning competition for water, which reduces the availability for other users. “
In order to address this, KIWA needs to come up with a way to track and monitor their use of water, finding ways to adjust their capacity to recycle waste water. The initiative that was launched in 2017 set out to implement activities aimed at increasing sustainable access to water, with a focus on ground water management, industrial water use efficiency and improved surface water quality management. This would supplement other efforts that had been ongoing such as water audits carried out by different stakeholders across the country.