The commemoration of World Water Week in 2020 has been met by unprecented times when the world is grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic. This however does not stop the world from addressing the challenges of a very vital resources: water. World Water Week is commemorated every year in late August. This year marks the 30th World Water Week themed “Water and Climate Change: Accelerating Action”.
Water is one of the primary indicators of climate change; Changes in the water cycles in the world clearly elucidate different climatic trends. Heavy rains, floods, rising of the sea-level and storms as well as droughts, decreasing sea-level and melting of ice-fields are water conflicts that indicate changes in climate. Whereas climate change affects the water cycle, water also affects climate resilience.
Climate resilience is dependent on a healthy and sustainable ecosystem which heavily relies on the presence of water bodies and sufficient water in the atmosphere.This is the water paradox in climate sustainability in that it is affected by climate change and at the same time its presence or lack of also affects climate change. Climate change continues to induce harsh weather conditions that significantly reduce the predictability of rain, decrease water quality and threaten sustainable development. The world is expected to hit 9.7 billion people by 2050 and with the prevalence of climate change, the water challenge will continue to hit hard unless climate change is addressed or humanity finds ways of producing water.
Water, despite being a resource provided freely by nature, is also very expensive and unavailable to many. It is estimated that in Kenya more than 40% urban and 60% rural population in Kenya has no access to clean water. Based on that premise concerted efforts by the government and companies dealing with water-related innovations is paramount to ensure that the water divide in the country is bridged. Notable efforts by non-profit organisations like Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) in recognizing water management as a superior tenet in climate sustainability has led to businesses been elevated from ideation stage to market penetration; Not predominantly for profits, but for the social impact that they create. Take for example one of the small market enterprises under incubation at KCIC called Camie Quest.
Camie Quest has managed to develop an affordable grassroot water distribution model where the company has perfected a water filtration technology and has been distributing clean and safe water through Auto Teller Machines (ATMs). The ministry of water which is mandated with the responsibility of managing water ought to support such initiatives even as it works on water harvesting, storage, sanitation and development. The future of water lies in how world governments, companies and innovators will advance water sustainability and resilience as well as implement technologies that will favor water preservation and distribution. Try and forget the adage that water is life and imagine how life would be if the world was to last for just a week without any drop of water; That is how important water is.
A redacted version of this article was first published on The Standard by Solomon Irungu N. on 28th August, 2020