Use modern latrines to secure groundwater

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Use modern latrines to secure groundwater


Summary

  • According to the 2019 Census by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, only 54 percent of Nairobi’s 1.5 million households are connected to the main sewer line and the rest use septic tanks, pit or bucket latrines for human waste disposal.
  • Things are even worse in Mombasa and Nakuru Cities where over 80 percent of residents are served by in-situ sanitation.
  • In Mombasa City, only 16.6 percent of more than 376,000 households are connected to the main sewer.

The big number of pit latrines and septic tanks used for human waste disposal in cities and major towns in the country is a ticking time bomb likely to explode in the next few years and expose millions of families that drink from boreholes and wells to diseases and water poverty.

According to the 2019 Census by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, only 54 percent of Nairobi’s 1.5 million households are connected to the main sewer line and the rest use septic tanks, pit or bucket latrines for human waste disposal.

Things are even worse in Mombasa and Nakuru Cities where over 80 percent of residents are served by in-situ sanitation. In Mombasa City, only 16.6 percent of more than 376,000 households are connected to the main sewer.

Studies show that increased frequency of extreme rainfall as a result of climate change amplifies the leakage of chemical and microbial contaminants from pit latrines, septic tanks and dumpsites to groundwater.

Groundwater is a natural resource that exists beneath the earth’s surface in soil pore spaces and it is stored in aquifers, a body of permeable rock – like gravel or sand.

Seawater intrusion

Apart from pit latrines and septic tanks, the UN further warns that seawater rise due to increased temperatures is likely to trigger the intrusion of seawater into coastal aquifers in the coastal region.

The WHO guidelines on salt in drinking water – mostly found in borehole water – says that if salt is excessive or above two grams per day, it may be harmful.

Kenya has been accused of laxity in implementing policies and laws meant for managing groundwater.

The government must protect the quality of groundwater by ensuring that latrines are connected to public sewers and promote the adoption of toilets that have little impact on the environment and groundwater.

Some of these toilets are the ventilated improved pit latrine, composting toilet, urine-diverting dry toilet or cartridge-based toilets.

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