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NEWS: Kenya says it will make water a human right

AllAfrica.com reports, “(Kenyan) Water minister Charity Ngilu (has) announced the Water Act of 2002 will be reviewed to make provision of water a basic human right inline with the new constitution.”

In Kenya’s new Constitution, adopted in June 2010, there is an advanced Bill of Rights that recognizes socio-economic rights of the Kenyan citizens; an Equalization Fund to improve basic access to basic needs of the marginalized communities; the right by any member of the public to bring a case against the government on the basis of infringement of Human Rights and the Bill of Rights; and a recognition of Environmental Rights.

According to the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, only 37 percent of Kenyans had access to “sufficient and safe drinking water close to their homes at an affordable price” in 2006-2007.

In 2007 the National Water Services Strategy was formulated to guide the implementation of the Water Act. It is based on “the identification of sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation as a human right and an economic good.”

Kenya was one of 41 countries that abstained at the United Nations General Assembly vote on July 28, 2010 recognizing the right to water and sanitation.

The Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (Kewasnet) was founded in 2007. Among other activities, Kewasnet monitors service delivery, especially for the poor, and policy implementation on water sector reforms. It also “provides information to Kenyans to enable them to be engaged and involved in the management and decision-making mechanisms of the Water and Sanitation Sector”. It also “promotes a culture of consumer responsibility that pays for supplied services from utility companies, safeguards water services infrastructure and equipment against vandalism by criminals.”