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OPENING SPEECH FOR THE ADVOCACY AND MAINSTREAMING OF SAFE FLUORIDE LEVELS IN WATER

Improved water quality supply is essential to achieving targets for health, education and environmental sustainability, and also impacts on poverty.

The recent national progress report on the MDGs in Kenya notes that access to safe water and sanitation facilities remains a big challenge. Over 60% of urban populations rely on water vendors, water kiosks or a natural source, most of which is contaminated biologically or chemically. This is holding back progress on other MDGs. Access to safe drinking water in adequate quantities is now entrenched in the Kenyan constitution as a basic human right.  In effect, the quantity and quality of water available to our people remains one of the many challenges that government, government agencies and sector players have to contend with and continually provide lasting solution. 

 

In the endeavor to meet the goal of adequate water resources in the current global crisis brought about by global warming and climate change, there has been a dash to invest searching for more water sources all in attempt to meet the ever increasing water demand for an equally swelling population. As a result some important goals such as water demand management and water quality are either slowly dropped or less emphasis is placed on them.

There is therefore need for a paradigm shift to addressing the water problem in the Rift valley region and more so in the country at large. One of the basic issues that must now draw attention is the quality of water delivered for consumption of the people. Traditionally more emphasis/effort has been placed in dealing with the biological contamination in water as opposed to the equally hazardous chemical composition of water being delivered to our doorsteps, yards or community sources.

 

One of the chemical impurities that our region/counties have to contend with is the high levels of fluoride prevalent in most ground water sources in the Rift Valley. As we already know and will still learn more in this workshop is that high levels of fluoride (above WHO recommended 1.5mg/l) has profound negative effects on people health, social and economic well-being.  It is estimated that 8 Million Kenyans live in Fluoric zones of which the majority are in our region.

 Ladies and gentlemen, as the society is being rapidly awakened to the significance of health living to individuals and to the nation, we who are directly responsible must take a pro-active action, lest the masses hold as accountable for the dangers they will continue to be exposed to if no action is taken.

The Rift Valley Water Services Board and its partners have in the past made effort to reduce fluoride in water to acceptable levels. This is through the work supported by the Water and Sanitation for Urban Poor, WSUP in Karagita Low Income Settlement in Naivasha and implemented through the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru Defluoridation Company (NDC). This however, is just but the beginning; the fluoride safety in water requires a concerted effort of all the players in the Water Sector; the Water Services Boards, Water Services Providers and County Governments taking lead.  

 

In the view of all this, it is high time that we start planning, devising relevant strategies as well as directing financing towards this goal. This we must do with all the diligence and dedication knowing too well that the people we serve are watching. It therefore calls for deliberated willingness and utmost cooperation amongst all concerned,

This Workshop therefore provides us with an important platform for deliberation and setting up of a proper road map for achieving the requisite water quality guidelines on fluoride. It is my hope that this workshop sets the beginning our collaborative effort/actions.

I therefore declare this advocacy and mainstreaming workshop on safe fluoride levels in water OPEN.