The Implications of Water Governance System on Environmental Health in Marginalised Communities in the Arid and Semi-arid Regions in Kenya: The Case of Njemps of Kenya
Yatich, T. T.
Koskey, P. K.
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Water is not only ecologically complex, but also socially, politically and economically loaded with meaning and opportunity. It forms a vital part of social infrastructure, playing a key role in health, industry, agriculture, energy and general consumption by both humans and beast. It is an essential resource for all forms of life, yet the total amount of water that is available is limited. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the countries of the world suffer from serious water shortages and this is expected to worsen in the coming decades. When this scenario persists, quenching the thirsty of human beings, their enterprises and health would be a dream especially if we will want to protect the resource’s fundamental ecological support systems. The scarcity of water negatively affects the environmental health within marginalized communities because of the relative scarcity compared to that in the high potential areas. One of the causative factors is the adopted governance system on management of this scarcity which directly affect the health of the people. Since independence, the Kenyan Government embarked on intensive water programmes in the rural areas. It financed water development because the physical environmental conditions and economic incapability of the rural populace dictated the system under water and health planning. The paternalistic approach was adopted. State ownership and control over water resources was in itself an impediment to the management of rural water resources and public health. This led to the introduction of the need to involve the community members; the beneficiaries. This was based on the fact that public interests in water resources may subordinate individual property interests and public health. The traditional, command - and – control regulation of water resources was therefore perceived inadequate and negatively impact on public health. The bottom-up approach considered the interests and the rights of landowners or customary users, but still there is need to develop reciprocal relations as a means of balancing private and the varied public interests in this scarce resource. The balancing of the local community, private and the government interests have been realized Marigat Division through the "Distributed Governance" approach. Marigat Division is within an arid and semi-arid region where the resource is scarce and, therefore the achievement of effective allocation regulation and conservation involves a multifaceted approach which emphasizes environmental health..