Treating waste water in Kenya has until recently been a preserve of the government and local councils. Waste water is used water; from toilets, kitchens, bathrooms, industries and so forth. In most cases, homes in Kenya utilize septic tanks, which allow for slow seepage of water into the ground.
Well, the water is basically treated, i.e, much of the contained biodegradable substances have been broken down by bacteria, but the water is not reused.
However, this is fast changing. Waste water treatment is becoming big business, and several players are jostling for the opportunities in this country.
Why we do need waste water treatment in Kenya
We are a water deficient country. Incredibly so considering the amount of rains we receive annually. However, greed and ignorance have contributed greatly to the situation. Forest cover is less than 1% of our land mass. Dams are mainly for power generation. We hardly harvest our water. And the rapidly development in the property scene may come with it a solution to this. Installing waste water treatment systems will allow re-use of water and also help in reducing the so called carbon print.
Waste water treatment will aid in promotion of irrigation-based farming. And this in effect will go some way in feeding our growing population and eradicating many instances of famine.
Cases of water-borne diseases can be reduced through waste water treatment. Water-borne diseases are common especially in the less affluent areas of our nation. Treating water before discharge to rivers can drastically reduce cases of water-borne diseases and reduce cases of mortality.
And the economic impact is also positive. Waste water treatment reduces healthcare costs, allows for food surplus (if enhanced for irrigation) which can be traded, and helps in saving costs of accessing clean water.
And our environment is conserved. Think green.
What holds back waste water treatment in Kenya?
Installation costs. Waste water treatment plants make economic sense in big developments. Individual homes would require about Ksh.0.5million to install treatment systems. That’s way out of reach to most Kenyans.
Lack of relevant knowledge. Few Kenyans know about water treatment. Most homes in rural areas use pit latrines and access water directly from rivers or wells.
Power problems. Most waste water treatment systems in Kenya consist of powered machinery like pumps and aerators. Some areas of our country are not provided with electricity. No power, no water treatment systems…at least for now.
Saving the situation
The biggest barrier in treating our water is cost. Our government should consider providing subsidies to ensure water treatment gains a foothold in Kenya.Registration requiring installation of waste water treatment systems in approved developments would also push the process forward.
It would also be a good idea to involve groups such as NGOs, corporates and even churches in spreading the word and making many aware of water conservation methods. Waste water treatment in Kenya is just one of the many methods and should be adopted throughout our nation.