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A young kenyan girl collecting water from a public spicket, takes a drink with both hands, they are apart of the kenya clean water crisis

Water scarcity is a worldwide problem; over a billion people do not have safe water available. The result is disease, shortened and diminished lives, loss of crops and livestock, and reduced economic and educational opportunities. Climate change, changing rainfall patterns, and drought compromise the overall availability of water, but even where there is enough, water pollution often makes lakes and rivers unsafe. Many of the world’s worst water pollution locales are in Asia and Africa. Kenya is one African country that’s particularly affected.

Causes of Water Pollution in Kenya

Rapid population growth and high poverty levels increase the demand for safe water in Kenya, and the supply isn’t keeping up. There are several key factors that contribute to the Kenya clean water crisis.

Contamination of Water

Water pollution in Kenya is bad, and contamination is making it worse. Industrial and agricultural areas are most severely affected. Pesticides and fertilizers flow into rivers. There are also industrial and household chemicals and other pollutants. Rainwater is often contaminated with coal, mine tailings, and landfill materials.

In urban areas, rivers are full of plastic and other types of garbage. In some cases, the sludge is so thick that it’s difficult to tell there’s a river under it. The rivers are often a stew of plastics, detergents, disinfectants, chemical residue, and petroleum byproducts. These pollutants affect more than rivers; they also seep through the soil and contaminate aquifers.

Lack of Sanitation

While chemicals and garbage create major issues concerning water pollution in Kenya, a massive part of the problem is the lack of hygienic sewage treatment. Open sewage lines that flow directly into rivers are all too common. These carry microbial pathogens that are a principal villain in the transmission of disease.

2 Kenyan girls pump water from a spicket, while one girl collects the water in a bucket, she is taking a drink - they are suffering from the clean water crisis in kenya

In much of the country, it’s difficult to observe the hygienic practices that can reduce the spread of waterborne illnesses. An example is hand-washing. People are generally willing to practice hand-washing to curtail disease, but, if they don’t have sanitary water to wash in, the effort is of limited value. Just having enough clean water to drink and wash with could go a long way toward alleviating the problems.

Government Shortfalls

The Kenyan government recognizes that water pollution is a major national problem, but hasn’t been effective enough in addressing it. Industrial metals are still being dumped into the rivers. None of the federal and local authorities have invested adequate funding into building waste management facilities.

The water transport system is inadequate. Aging pipes, many of which were poorly constructed in the first place, potentially contribute to the leakage of billions of gallons of what clean water there is. The cost of water maintenance systems is beyond the reach of many of the country’s poorer regions.

Clean water supply simply hasn’t kept up with the burgeoning population. It’s estimated that over 40 percent of Kenyans rely on ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while most of the rest use sanitation solutions that are likely to be inadequate.


Business can bring jobs and prosperity to a country, but too often it also brings additional water pollution. Agricultural runoff is still the biggest reason for pollution via sediment deposits, but mining is also a major source of sediment in lakes and rivers. This is especially a problem in Lake Victoria, where mining operations are dumping a significant quantity of mercury into the lake. Efforts to restrict this have fallen short, and businesses have little incentive to mitigate their impact on water safety.

How a Water Filtration System Can Help

Water filtration offers one of the most cost-effective ways to increase the supply of safe water. It removes unhealthy contaminants and makes water healthy for drinking and washing. This filtration is critical to addressing the clean water crisis in Kenya and elsewhere.. It’s estimated that, by 2025, over half the world’s people will be living in regions where there’s a lack of clean water.

There are two methods of water filtration used in treatment facilities: ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis.

Ultrafiltration involves filters containing long membranes with holes. The holes are minute, about 20 nanometers. That’s small enough to trap viruses and bacteria. Ultrafiltration is the less expensive of the two treatments, and it requires less time and expertise to maintain the system. However, it doesn’t remove substances that are dissolved in water, such as chemical toxins. Fortunately, only five to 10 percent of filtration sites need to deal with dissolved pollutants.

For these more demanding sites, reverse osmosis is required. It pushes water through a semipermeable membrane, producing two streams of water. One is treated and the other is rejected. This is a method used to commercially produce bottled water. This system does waste some water, and it requires daily maintenance.

When Healing Waters International not only sets up these filtration systems but also trains local leaders to do the required ongoing management.

Healing Waters Impact in Kenya

A young Kenyan girl poses for the camera smiling

The problem of water pollution in Kenya and elsewhere is so great that you might think the average person can’t do anything about it. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Healing Waters International makes it possible for anyone to contribute to its mission to end the global water crisis.

HWI was founded in 2012 by a husband and wife who were serving as missionaries in the Dominican Republic. It’s a ministry to bring God’s love to vulnerable communities in the form of clean and safe water. HWI aims to help people not just to get by but to prosper physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The first water project was in Santo Domingo, and now there are projects all around the world providing sustainable access to safe and healthy water. These projects also create jobs and produce local economic benefits.

You can make an impact for clean water and improved lives in Kenya and elsewhere globally. Donate to Healing Waters International and become part of this vital mission.

We’re on a mission to end the global water crisis. We build holistic clean water solutions and spread God’s love in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially and spiritually.

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