Sewage problem a weighty issue in urban areas
Posted Thursday, May 27 2010 at 20:13
Only 32 out of Kenya’s 178 local government authorities have a sewerage system.
This means that 142 local authorities around the country lack access to any form of sewerage system and are therefore highly exposed to diseases, according to a report on the link to health and environment.
The report on Kenya’s Situational Analysis and Needs Assessment (SANA) found that 39 per cent of people in rural areas do not have access to proper sanitation comparable to international standards.
Only 58 per cent of Kenyans have access to improved water sources.
Poor sanitation and hygiene and water and air pollution, the study stated, are the major environment factors that pose a health risk to communities.
They contributed heavily to acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, cancer and malaria, Environment assistant minister Jackson Kiptanui stated.
He said the welfare of Kenyans depended not only on good healthcare services, but also on the quality of the physical, social and the cultural environment they lived in.
“Improvement of the environment will ensure that incidents of disease are reduced,” the assistant minister said.
The challenge now is for policy-makers to come up with the right policies and programmes to deal with environmental risks in line with the Libreville Declaration.
The environment and health declaration was signed in Libreville, Gabon, in August 2008, when the signatory countries committed to deal with environment issues that lead to poor human health. A large part of town populations in Africa has poor waste management, the report states.
Waste generation had increased over time, together with its toxic and hazardous nature due to the fast pace of development.
The document rated disease vector, drought, floods and organic pollution of drinking water as high level risks in both rural and town settings caused by natural and human activities.
It said that there was non-coordination in linking all related health sectors and environmental agencies in the country.
The health and environmental sectors, the report recommended, should be harmonised to include a joint plan of action.
Among the environmental risks said to cause high risk medical conditions as a result of human activities is pollution of drinking water.
This, the report indicated, caused outbreaks of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases in the rural areas and contaminated drinking water and food in towns.