International Conference on Rainwater Catchmant Systems
in Rainwater Collection for Low-Income Communities and Sustainable Development"
Nairobi, Kenya - August 1993
By The Honourable Darius
M. Mbela, ECH, MP
Minister for Land Reclamation. Regional and Water Development,
Mr. Chairman, Representatives of Foreign Missions, Heads and
Representatives of UN Bodies and Donor Agencies, the Vice Chancellor of the University
of Nairobi, Distinguished Guests. Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you ail to the 6th "International
Conference on Rainwater Catchment Systems.
I sincerely hope that those of you visiting Kenya will find us
sufficiently hospitable to enable you to participate in this conference with efficacy.
Mr Chairman, I am informed that participants at this important
conference are drawn from more than 40 countries and that it is the first time
that the conference has been held in Africa. I see this as a great honour for
our country and our continent.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you arc all aware that 1981 - 1990 was
designated the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade by the
United Nations, whose objectives were to provide potable water and adequate sanitation
Towards that end increased governmental and donor community investments
have been made. However, despite those endeavours the objectives remain unconsummated.
Rainwater harvesting becomes important in that, other than meeting the objectives
of the drinking water supply and sanitation decade, it is an activity that can
be implemented from household to institution level with equal degrees of satisfaction.
Research has established that the quality of rainwater, depending on geographical
zones, is quite acceptable both for domestic and industrial needs. Moreover, rainwater
relative to other sources of water, is an option which is available free and could
be harnessed for the benefit of everybody at a nominal cost. In light of the foregoing,
1 find the conference and its theme appropriate.
Mr Chairman, the relevance of the conference to Kenya cannot
be over-emphasized, Kenya has about 27 districts which are categorized as arid
or semi-arid. These are the districts that suffer the most from drought conditions,
yet are the same ones devastated by floods during the short spells when they are
blessed with rainfall. It is a shame that this very vital resource should go to
waste in areas where it is most needed.
Our arid districts constitute about 87% of the Kenyan land, are
inhabited by approximately 21% of the total Kenyan population and support over
50% of the livestock herds in the country. This scenario implies that 80% of Kenya's
population is concentrated in the Jess than 20% of high-potential areas, which
have reached saturation levels.
We find ourselves with no alternative, therefore, other than
to make our arid and semi-arid lands habitable and productive, and the only way
is to provide water in sufficient quantities and of acceptable quality to those
areas. Rainwater harvesting becomes part of our wider strategy to halt the rural-urban
population drift, as well as a vehicle for higher economic productivity.
We have to boost the agricultural and industrial potential of
these areas so as to relieve the immense population pressure currently witnessed
in our minuscule fertile lands.
Mr Chairman, the Government of Kenya has a variety of measures
in place to try and reclaim arid and semi-arid lands. These measures are manifest
in the creation of my Ministry, with the purpose of raising the socio-economic
potential of those lands through the provision of water resources. To reclaim
these arid and semi-arid lands my Ministry regards rainwater harvesting as the
sine qua non. It is in that light that I find this conference very appropriate.
Ladies and Gentlemen, what I have already said should not delude
anyone into thinking that rainwater harvesting should be restricted to arid and
semi-arid areas only. Rainwater harvesting is useful in every area, including
those with sufficient water and rainfall.
While ensuring that rainwater does not go to waste, its harvesting
also ensures that it does not become a nuisance or a hazard. In urban areas surface
runoff has unleashed havoc on the urban infrastructure and been me ruination of
property and human life.
This conference has brought together experts, practitioners and
researchers in the fields of engineering, hydrology, architecture, building, agriculture
and economics, all with the aim of snaring knowledge and experience in the field
of rainwater catchment systems technology. I am optimistic that from your deliberations
some useful ideas, realistic strategies and implementable recommendations will
The conference should be wary of the "conference bandwagon" effect,
where it is all talk and nothing tactile emerges from it. I request, therefore,
that you do at least three things:
- Ensure that recommendations from this conference are practicable, palatable
and catalytic to policy.
- That the recommendations are environmentally sustainable.
- That the recommendations of the conference should first and foremost take
account of the
needs of those least privileged in our society.
Mr Chairman, my remaining remarks are reserved for ail those
who have in one way or another contributed to make this conference a reality.
In that regard, my first thanks go to the pioneers of this conference. Also, I
wish to thank the 6th Conference Organizing Committee, the University of Nairobi
for their splendid efforts in organizing mis conference and for hosting it I wish
to thank the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Habitat, UNICEF, the World Bank and others
for funding this conference.
With these remarks, and with great honour and pleasure, I now
declare the International Conference on Rainwater Catchment Systems officially
|Note: The IRCSA proceedings
section is still new and under active management, If you find any problems,
ommissions or corrections please contact
the administrator so we can put things right.