KENYA – The government of Kenya has secured US$36m (Sh. 3.6 billion) from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to increase water coverage across the country, reports Kenya News Agency.

Under the programme, water infrastructure at key small towns is expected to be expanded to help the country achieve 70 per cent coverage by the year 2022.

The Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary, Simon Chelugui said over the last one year, water coverage in the country increased by 1.5 per cent adding that with full implementation of the project the 70 per cent target shall be realized.

“With devolution, so many small towns are coming up and these are the areas we are targeting under this project to ensure that our people have access to clean water,” said the CS.

He pointed out Kisumu, Kisii, Nyamira and Kericho as some of the counties where the project is being undertaken.

Speaking in Kisumu where he launched the national standards and guidelines for Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure in Pre-Primary and Primary Schools, the CS said the government was on the forefront in ensuring access to clean water across the country to prevent water borne diseases.

This, he said, will cut the country’s huge expenditure on treatment of the diseases which he disclosed consumes up to 67 per cent of the health budget.

The  guidelines jointly developed by the ministries of water, health and education in collaboration with United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) set the trend on hygiene and sanitation at the learning institutions.

The CS said the project sponsored by UNICEF and the national government since 2008 has helped increase retention and school transition rates especially amongst girls.

The  guidelines which stipulate how toilets, latrines and ablution blocks at the institutions should look like, he said, will be adopted by all the schools to enhance safety and prevent diseases.

“Every school must follow these guidelines. even those being done by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF),” he said.

A  water for Schools project, he added, was being implemented by his ministry targeting all schools that do not have access to water.

Chelugui  cautioned developers and contractors working on school projects to stick to set guidelines and specifications to avoid disasters.

“It is unfortunate that some of our institutions have hanging toilets which expose our children to danger,” he said.