Joanne Kiarie: Sanitation is key to climate resilience

Umande Trust Technical Officer Charles Omondi shows some of the prototype low-cost latrine technology during the World Toilet Day celebrations in Nyando, Kisumu County on November 19, 2019.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega| Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The country already loses 1-2 per cent due to sanitation-related diseases.
  •  It is estimated that Kenya will lose 2.6 per cent of its gross domestic product due to the consequences of climate change by 2030.



Every November 19, the world celebrates toilets — acknowledging that access to these facilities and the safe disposal of waste is a human right and, therefore, inspiring action to tackle the challenges faced by 4.2 billion people who have been left behind.

By 2030, everyone in Kenya is expected to have access to safe and improved sanitation, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s World Toilet Day focuses on sustainable sanitation and climate change — two intersecting critical issues for Kenya. It is estimated that Kenya will lose 2.6 per cent of its gross domestic product due to the consequences of climate change by 2030.

The country already loses 1-2 per cent due to sanitation-related diseases. With increased rural-urban migration, things are getting harder for the big cities like Nairobi and Kisumu, where most people live in densely populated informal settlements.

Access to a toilet

Climate change has led to extreme weather patterns that include increased temperatures, unpredictable rainfall patterns and flooding, often displacing people from their homes.

For sanitation, it’s a day-to-day challenge with over two-thirds of residents literally living in their waste: It ends up untreated back to where people live and into Nairobi River and Lake Victoria.

The cities should implement systems that adequately address the sanitation full value chain. That is, ensuring that urban residents have access to a toilet that safely contains all the waste generated, and building systems that safely and sustainably removes all of this waste and transport it for treatment and safe disposal or reuse.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) experts in the public and private sectors must collaborate with one another and other government stakeholders to build strong systems that manage sanitation waste safely, at the same time supporting and promoting innovative solutions that accelerate city-wide inclusive sanitation.

 joanne.kiarie@saner.gy

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