18 June 2002

Kenya: Lack of Water Blamed for Increase in Poverty

Lack of safe drinking water was yesterday named as one of the major causes of poverty in Kenya.

Water shortage directly affects economic performance and should be given top priority in poverty reduction plans, the World Bank Country Director, Mr Makhtar Diop, said.

He was speaking at an international workshop on water and sanitation that opened in Nairobi yesterday.

Mr Diop said Kenya was among the countries with least access to safe drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa. He attributed the situation to a decline in donor aid and lack of a sustainable distribution network.

Mr Diop said access to water determined the range of productive actions available to the people. He said safe water was necessity for agriculture, livestock, fisheries, transport and other small industries.

"The purpose of this workshop is to initiate the exchange of experiences in the water sector from various countries," said Mr Diop.

The workshop was attended by government officials, senior representatives of NGOs, donors and other interested parties from 12 countries.

The African Economic Research Consortium executive director, Mr Delphin Rwegasira, said the availability of safe water did not get adequate attention in poverty reduction strategies.

He said the African Economic Research Institute had completed a case study on poverty in 12 countries. The institute is in the second phase of the programme, which is to implement active policies to reduce poverty.

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