April 21, 2022

Water Scarcity in Kenya: A Dire Crisis

Rachel Brown

By Rachel Brown

Water scarcity is not something new to the African region. Throughout the years many countries in Africa have had to bear the consequences of not having clean and accessible water at their disposal. It is well researched that 1 in 3 Africans face water scarcity and “400 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to basic drinking water.” Kenya is on the East Africa coast, yet the country is facing one of the worst droughts of its time. Despite it bordering the Indian Ocean, the Wajir Region and its people find themselves struggling to survive without access to clean water. 

There are roughly 40 million people living in Kenya, and almost half of them don’t have access to clean water. Due to this large population, in a relatively small country, the ratio of people to accessible water is deeply skewed. While there may be access to water, this water isn’t clean, and Kenyans don’t have the means to filter this water. Although, out of desperation, we see people drinking this dirty water and then getting diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid, dehydration from diarrhea, etc. People shouldn’t have to risk their health and well-being just because they don’t have access to clean water, a fundamental right to life. 

Climate change, the heating of the planet at an unreasonable rate, is also exacerbating this issue. Kenya is facing a severe drought, “receiving less than 30% of its normal rainfall – the worst short rain season in decades.” Not only does this lack of rainfall affect the citizens’ access to water, but also damages their economy because their pastures and animals aren’t hydrated enough to do well. Without these pastures and livelihoods of agriculture, we can see people not being able to make a living and falling deeper into poverty. 

Zenab Jule, an expecting mother in Africa, is currently living below the poverty line as a direct result of the droughts. She is pregnant, along with having 2 other children and has only been feeding them maize because of the lack of crop due to the lack of water. She says, “both toddlers are suffering from diarrhea, one of the most frequent symptoms of malnourishment among children below five.” This water crisis is affecting more than just the people, crops, and animals in Kenya but also the children. A lot of the time children have to drop out of school to help their family or follow their family to other areas in search of water. Considering that the average length a person has to go to fetch clean water is approximately 9 miles, it makes sense for them to want to pack up their things and move for better living conditions. 

This is a complex issue with no clear solution. However, there are many companies that focus on accessibility to clean water and are trying to work on solutions to create a system where water can be accessible and clean for everyone. 

  1. Holtz, Leo, and Christina Golubski. “Addressing Africa’s Extreme Water Insecurity.” Brookings. Brookings, August 11, 2021. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2021/07/23/addressing-africas-extreme-water-insecurity/. 
  2.  Pietromarchi, Virginia. “’We Will All Die’: In Kenya, Prolonged Drought Takes Heavy Toll.” Climate Crisis News | Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, November 18, 2021. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/17/we-will-all-die-in-kenya-prolonged-drought-takes-heavy-toll. 
  3.  “Kenya’s Water Crisis – Kenya’s Water in 2021.” Water.org. Accessed February 16, 2022. https://water.org/our-impact/where-we-work/kenya/. 

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About the Author
Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown is currently an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science at the George Washington University. She also has earned her International Baccalaureate Diploma from George School and has interned for her local representative who ran for Congress in 2020. Along with political activism, Rachel is extremely interested in journalism and intends to minor in it. Rachel currently writes blog posts for her Comparative Politics class, and thought that writing these posts for the UMR would help broaden her understanding of the regions that they work with.
Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown is currently an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science at the George Washington University. She also has earned her International Baccalaureate Diploma from George School and has interned for her local representative who ran for Congress in 2020. Along with political activism, Rachel is extremely interested in journalism and intends to minor in it. Rachel currently writes blog posts for her Comparative Politics class, and thought that writing these posts for the UMR would help broaden her understanding of the regions that they work with.
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