NAIROBI, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya is prioritizing the construction of reservoirs in order to reverse water scarcity, officials said on Wednesday.
Joseph Irungu, principal secretary of the Ministry of Water and Sanitation told an environmental forum in Nairobi that in Kenya per capita availability of water currently stands at 452 cubic meters compared to 647 cubic meters in 2000.
"We are banking on building water harvesting structures such as dams so as to expand water access in the country," Irungu said during the special water event at the ongoing fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
Irungu said that Kenya has about 22 billion cubic meters of fresh water from both surface and undergrounds while the population is increasing at a fast rate.
"This therefore calls for innovative means to ensure we achieve the goal of universal access by 2030," he said, adding that the east African nation also faces a huge water funding gap.
He revealed that the country requires investing at least 1.8 trillion shillings (18 billion U.S. dollars) in order to achieve water access of all its citizens.
Irungu noted that the government allocates 400 million dollars to the water sector annually.
Government data indicates that currently the national safe water coverage is about 60 percent of the population. Irungu said that Kenya has put in place a strategy to raise water availability to 80 percent by the end of 2022.
He observed that the country has been classified as a water scarce country and the situation is worsened by climate change and the fact that the quality of natural waters and especially surface water has been deteriorating over time due to pollution.
Irungu noted that key sources of water pollution include commercial farming activities, rapid and unplanned urbanization leading to expansion of informal settlements as well as poor or non-treatment of domestic and industrial effluents.