Kenya will become healthy and prosperous faster if the country accelerates the pace towards universal access to clean water, shows a NationNewsplex review of key data on water, health and development.
Depressed water supply has been linked to economic and health challenges. An estimated four out of five jobs are water-dependent globally, with sectors that rely heavily on water including agriculture, forestry, inland fisheries and aquaculture, mining and resource extraction, power generation and manufacturing, according to the Word Water Assessment Programme.
The manufacturing sector, for instance, is one of the country’s leading employers but has been receiving a beating lately due to high cost of production driving investors away. Its share of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has steadily fallen for more than five years, standing at eight percent in 2018 from 11 percent in 2013. The suppressed growth in the sector has translated to a meagre two percentage point annual manufacturing jobs growth.
Fixing the water demand and supply gap will reduce production costs and spur investment and job creation in the sector.
In poor urban areas, many employment opportunities such as at construction sites and car wash facilities, and in food kiosks are hampered by water shortage. Besides, the time taken fetching water could be spent in gainful employment or in job search.
The informal sector, the source of 91 percent of new jobs created in 2018, according to the Economic Survey 2019, employs a significant number of people living in the low income urban neighbourhoods, with some of the jobs based in such areas. Sufficient and reliable water supply to such areas will therefore promote production and employment.