A few weeks ago, global water experts converged in Nairobi in a forum that signalled a renewal of Africa’s commitment to the objective of providing access to water for all by 2030. The International Congress of the African Water Association (AfWA) is a scientific and technical forum aimed at taking stock of the development of the water, sanitation and environmental sector in Africa.
The theme of this year’s meeting that drew over 1,500 delegates from the public, private and development sectors was “sustainable access to water and sanitation in Africa.” As it is now generally accepted, Africa’s economies are growing at around five per cent per annum and the emphasis on placing the continent on a higher trajectory in water matters is timely, if not overdue.
The dominant message from the conference was that there is need for more collaborative effort between the private sector and governments across the continent to make the 2030 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of making water accessible to all a reality.
Nairobi city, for instance, currently receives only 550 million litres of water against a daily need of 730 million litres, presenting a 30 per cent supply deficit. This comes against the backdrop of a rapidly increasing national population that has grown by 15 million people in the last ten years alone. It is projected that Nairobi alone will add another 470,000 people per annum to its existing population.
Over this same period, the pressure on nature will continue to grow exponentially. We are drilling deeper boreholes to get to the water table, excavating bigger dams to harvest more rain water, and considering installation of water pipelines from far-flung areas to supply water to the city.
For us to close this worrying gap, it will require far more effective industrial strategies and policies and more involvement of the private sector through end-to-end interventions that are geared towards building stronger sustainable water conservation and efficient management systems.
Meeting our water needs in Nairobi and the country at large is a collective task and responsibility that requires long-term commitment. The AfWA deliberations marked a crucial step towards achieving our desires to attain self-sufficiency in water supply, but a lot more still needs to be done.
We need to reduce wastage, invest in efficient, water recycling systems and storage capabilities for future sustainability.
Leveraging our long tradition of promoting water stewardship at East African Breweries, our water blueprint spells out specific targets aimed at addressing water challenges along our value chain through our raw materials sourcing, production process optimisation, community investment and local, regional and global advocacy programmes.
By Jean Kiarie-Ngumo-
Head of Sustainability at East African Breweries.