Do you know that seven million people across the world die every year because of poor quality air? And are you aware that this happens mostly in developed urban cities around the world? A recent report by The Eco Experts, a renewable energy firm, ranked Kenya as the cleanest country in the whole world. Good news right? But wait, Nairobi was actually named the most polluted city in the world. A research released last year showed that the amount of cancer-causing elements in the air within Nairobi City is ten times higher than the threshold recommended by WHO. These are worrying statistics that need to be taken seriously if we want to achieve a clean and pollution-free environment by 2030.
Cities, by nature, are at the nexus of sustainability initiatives with issues of energy efficiency, water, and climate change. Poor air and water quality, insufficient water availability, waste-disposal problems, and high energy consumption are worsened by the increasing population density and demands of urban environments.
The Mji Wetu campaign is championing for cleaner and healthier cities by engaging the public to share their experiences about the places they live in. Different cities across the country experience the aforementioned challenges in the quest to achieve higher levels of public health.
As we speak now, Kenya’s public health system has been paralyzed by the doctors’ strike which has been running for close to three months. Only those who can afford to go to private hospitals can access medical care. What about those who lack reasonable medical insurance cover or the poor who depend on public hospital services? The media has reported that many people have died because of the strike, since the alternative to public hospitals, private ones, are too expensive for most Kenyans. Apart from that, residents in the Northern part of the country have been experiencing drought since last year and it really touched me to see some little kids resort to drinking dirty water from a borehole.
Article 43 (b) of the Constitution declares sanitation as a basic human right and guarantees the right of every person to “reasonable standards of sanitation” yet these services are not accessible to many Kenyans especially in the rural areas leading to the deprivation of decent and dignified lifestyles.
As we gear towards vision 2030, major developments are anticipated which will definitely affect pollution levels. In the recent past, different campaigns including #NairobiGarbage, #GoldInGarbage and #NutritionKe among others, have been run to champion for cleaner and healthier cities in the country. Improved sanitation means safe disposal and management of waste to prevent human exposure and environmental hazards.
The Kenya Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Policy (2016-2030) marks a milestone in the country’s movement towards universal access to improved sanitation and a clean and healthy environment in the wake of the new Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
One last thing which I feel has become a nuance to public health and should be dealt with as soon as yesterday is the management of Electronic waste (e-waste). How many phones or computers or rather any other electronic devices have you disposed off in the last five years? Where did you dispose them? Improper disposal of e-wastes with hazardous toxins present a major threat to the environment and human health including groundwater contamination, atmospheric pollution and water pollution either by immediate discharge or due to surface runoff. One of the ways to curb this is to designate specific areas for e-waste recycling, including disassembly, burning and disposal.
Achieving cleaner and healthier cities for all Kenyans requires the participation of the citizens, public sector agencies, private sector, development partners, households, media, CBOs/NGOs among other stakeholders.
Join the #MjiWetu campaign by sharing your experiences about the place you live in here >> http://mjiwetu.com/
Let’s all work together towards creating healthy, clean and pollution-free cities for future generations.