Kenya gave itself a new constitution in 2010 that has a very robust bill of rights. The people of Kenya gave their collective commitment to be respectful of the environment, which is our heritage, and determined to sustain it for the benefit of future generations. They further committed to nurturing and protecting the well-being of the individual, the family, communities and the nation.
The Constitution proceeds to enshrine this right under Article 42 for every person to have a clean and healthy environment, which includes the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures.
These rights are enforceable before a court of competent jurisdiction whenever there is denial, violation, infringement or threat. One can seek redress in addition to any other legal remedies that are available in respect to the same matter.
The people of Kenya do exercise their power either directly or through their democratically elected leaders. It is in this regard that the responsibility of provision of clean water, sanitation and environment fall within the mandate of the State. Understandably and by definition the State include county governments. It is therefore the responsibility of counties to ensure proper sanitation, clean water and environment for its residents.
However, in the recent past, Kenyans have been saddened by the upsurge of cholera outbreak and dysentery infections not only in the slums but also in schools. A case in point is the ongoing water shortage in Kajiado North and its environs where residents have been forced to go for months without the precious commodity and have been left in the hands of water vendors charging Kshs.50/- for a twenty litre jerrican.
The safety of this water is not guaranteed since the source is unascertainable. To add salt to injury, a strong stench hovers over the heaps of garbage lining Ongata Rongai Magadi road from Maasai lodge stage to Tasya supermarket. It is also a nightmare when the rains pour as sewer lines burst and flood feeder roads like Nyotu and Umoja road.
The residents of Kajiado North and its environs are calling upon the county government of Kajiado to rise to the task and deliver clean water and sanitation to its citizens as a matter of right.
By Kristine Gathoni Mugo
The author is an advocate, a mediator and managing partner at Gathoni Mugo & Co Advocates