Progress towards achieving the sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals requires broad cooperation and consultation through public and private partnerships, community involvement, and public awareness, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Public Health and Sanitation Dr. James Gesami has said.
Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Public Health and Sanitation, Dr. James Gesami, tries his hand at driving one of the tractors before flagging them off.
Presiding over a ceremony during which a total of 16 tractors, 20 containers, 13 container trailers and three low-loading trailers, designed and procured by UN-HABITAT, were handed over to seven towns in the Lake Victoria region, Dr. Gesami noted that it is the policy of his government to entrench community participation in environmental sanitation and hygiene policy in order to create and enhance an enabling environment in which all Kenyans will be motivated to improve their hygiene behaviour and environmental sanitation.
“The focus now is on results, not processes, not what we are doing, but what benefits communities are enjoying from our interventions. Reduced morbidity and mortality, and increased productivity and life expectancy are our ultimate goals,” said the minister, who urged municipal authorities, residents and local businesses to join hands in the effort to reduce morbidity and mortality from preventable diseases and improve productivity.
The Chief of the Lake Victoria Section at UN-HABITAT, Mr. Robert Goodwin thanked the Government of Kenya and the Municipal Council for their cooperation and support in ensuring that the Initiative delivers tangible improvements in access to water and sanitation services for the people of Homa Bay Town. Emphasising the role of the community in the sustainability of the programme, Mr. Goodwin said they could play an important role in holding the municipal council accountable for delivering the services it should provide.
Noting that the equipment had been sourced locally from Farm Engineering Industries Limited who will provide training, after sales service and maintenance support, he said this would also make regular maintenance and repair of the equipment manageable as spare parts are locally available.
Homa Bay District Commissioner Mr. Bernard Leparmarai urged the municipal council to enforce existing environmental protection by-laws. Observing that Lake Victoria is a vital resource, he called on the municipality and the people of Homa Bay to take ownership of the resource and protect it. “Good governance is not a luxury, it is critical for development and for attracting investors to this town. If we do not take ownership of the resources, they will be mismanaged,” he said.
The Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative, a collaborative effort between UN-HABITAT, the Governments of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Secretariat of the East African Community, supports small but rapidly growing towns in the Lake Victoria region to attain the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals. The programme is delivering an integrated package of interventions in water supply, sanitation, solid waste management and capacity building. Designing systems to help the participating towns to improve solid waste management is one of the key components to address problems of environmental sanitation. Recognizing that small towns face unique challenges in service delivery, UN-HABITAT has developed a special solid waste management system that is appropriate for small urban centres and has now completed the procurement and delivery of the necessary equipment.