Damn it! Just fix the water system, the rest will follow

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As we get busy building the country from the top, the wasted rain water is washing away our foundation and best soil we need to become food secure.

Spending borrowed billions in hastily built mega projects is hardly the way to grow the economy in a country that is struggling to tackle poverty and rising unemployment. Industrial revolution cited in the Big Four is dependent on key drivers such as water and electricity.

There is now talk of bringing piped gas, when what we desperately need is water. If the piped gas were to go up in flames, we won’t use gas to put the fire out, surely?

There was so much splash made on countrywide electrification program that died as soon as dust settled on the last elections.

Ugali prices were slashed too, leading up to the election and the prices shot up again as soon as we voted.

Water has become another political tool. Water does not seem to feature as the most crucial thing in the development plans. It ought to be, given the challenges we face as a country due to its constant shortage.

Lack of clean water has impacted so much on public health with perennial flare ups of cholera and other water borne diseases.

Water shortage continues to be a big problem both in the rural and urban areas. It is not uncommon to see a gleaming villa on the outside with not a drop of water to flush toilets. How can we eradicate cholera if we don’t even have enough water to help with personal hygiene?

The poor who work in the food industry and as domestic servants inhabit areas with hardly water in sight for their use, increasing risk of cholera spreading.

The few water points in our slums have become a source of insecurity as gangs fight over their control to fleece the poorest.

The cause of much in-fighting among the pastoralists and nomadic communities is borne of water shortage for both animals and humans.

Politicians, on the other hand, are using this crucial commodity, like many others, as carrot and stick to keep themselves in power.

In any civilised society, the type of ‘water wars’ witnessed in Murang’a would not be tolerated. By letting politicians hold the voters to ransom, we have allowed our rights to be impugned.

Water is life and that means it should flow in our taps and pipes as a right free from all kinds of impurities including politics.

Kenyans are dying of thirst and hunger because we have chosen selfish politics over meaningful development. It is time we delinked politics from key services such as agriculture, water, health and education.

The Aswan Dam led to industrial revolution in Egypt after its construction in the 1900s. It helps manage perennial flooding along the River Nile, increased use of irrigation in food production and generates hydroelectricity for the country.

Aswan Dam has played and continues to play crucial role in Egyptian economy. Kenya on the other hand decided on invisible dams to benefit corrupt individuals rather than use it to harness desperately needed water.

The hope of making Kenya food secure, could be discerned from the success of a small irrigation project in Garissa.

The acreage may not mean much to plantation owners, but to nomads who struggle against perennial drought, it offers hope being able to rely on an alternative source of food from the traditional animals.

Food security is being threatened by corruption and the corrupt who chose to run down irrigation and dam projects in the country with impunity.

Indeed, we need the superhighways and latest trains, but they can never replace water. It is the most important fluid required to grease those cogs holding development wheel together. By going for the mega projects, we are in fact pursuing development agenda back to front.

We spend millions to buy fire engines but have no water to fill their tanks.

We talk of massive investment in agriculture but steal from irrigation projects. We aim to build social housing without making sure we are water secure first. We talk of bringing piped gas and rush to build gas plants instead of water reservoirs and dams! Are we serious and honest in our development agenda or just rushing to make money for some?

Water is essential not just for our development but to our life. It is key in keeping the nation healthy by reducing the risk of contractible diseases such as cholera that is too common in Kenya. Importance of water in the agricultural sector cannot be over emphasised.

Water pans that we keep being promised are crucial both for domesticated animals in the ASAL areas and for wildlife that tourism industry is depended on to thrive.

With unnecessary mega projects, all we are doing is trying to run before we can even crawl. The national debt is rising to meet demand for things that are not addressing poverty and unemployment. Let us go back to the basics. Start with water.

Then revive the agricultural sector by fighting corruption within it by getting the dams and irrigation going.

Make the country water secure first and food security, good health and prosperity will follow.

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