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US Grants Kenya Over $100 Million for Water, Sanitation

FILE - U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman speaks during press conference at the DCI headquarters in Nairobi, Jan. 12, 2023.
FILE - U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman speaks during press conference at the DCI headquarters in Nairobi, Jan. 12, 2023.

NAIROBI — The U.S. ambassador to Kenya announced Monday that Washington will grant over $100 million to the East African nation to improve access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Ambassador Meg Whitman addressed leaders in Nairobi who told her that Kenyans are experiencing record drought with “no signs of significant rains coming any time soon.”

The representative said the U.S. will be granting the funds through its Global Water Strategy High Priority Country Plan for Kenya that will address the urgent need for clean water over five years.

“As I have traveled around Kenya, I ask government officials and community members, what are your priorities? And the number one priority almost universally is water,” Whitman said.

“The linkages between water and a changing climate are critical clear, perhaps clearer than they have been ever before,” she added.

Whitman also said the U.S. government looks to improve water services for at least 1.6 million people while providing improved sanitation for 1 million people.

“As we’ve observed here in Kenya, in the Horn of Africa, and in countries spanning almost every continent, water scarcity also often serves as a cause or accelerator of conflict,” she said.

“Access to water can serve as a weapon of war as we have seen in Ukraine where water infrastructure has been destroyed, leaving innocent civilians without essential services,” she added.

Alice Wahome, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for water, sanitation, and irrigation, said nationwide demands for clean water are expected to grow and called on innovators to come up with a solution to address the crisis.

“The demand for water is expected to grow exponentially in our country over the next 15 years. Even if we invest heavily in water infrastructure it will be very difficult for supply to keep pace with the demand,” Wahome said.

“Therefore, we need innovative approaches for supply and demand management options,” she added.

Susan Koki Mutua, a public health officer, said limited access to water has left many locals living in unhygienic places.

“About 6 million Kenyans have no access to any form of sanitation facilities and practice total open defecation. About 24 million use unimproved sanitation facilities or share latrines,” Mutua said.

Mutua also said poor sanitation is linked to growing malnutrition rates in Kenya.

“Malnutrition and stunted growth are on the rise in many countries and are mainly attributed to poor sanitation and hygiene as one of the underlying risk factors,” she said.

“Every year many countries are reporting cholera outbreaks, as we are right now in about 16 counties,” she added.