Water shortage is common in the African continent, but it is most prevalent in Kenya. Kenya's rural areas and urban informal settlements especially suffer from severe water problems due to droughts caused by global warming, forest degradation, contamination of water, population growth rate and a lack of water supply management.
Around 19 million Kenyans are still relying on unsafe water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while 27 million Kenyans use unimproved sanitation solutions. Only a few public water service providers in Kenya provide continuous water supply, leaving people to find their own ways of searching for appropriate solutions to this basic human need. However, the situation in Kenya's water value chain is about to change.
Water transportation in Wajir town, Kenya (Source: ILRI, Flickr)
Quercus Group had the pleasure of co-organising the Innovate4Water Conference last week, where 150 stakeholders from 10 countries represented the entire water value chain. Among the participants were entrepreneurs, larger businesses, financial institutions, academia, NGOs and public authorities, including the Government of Kenya’s SDG Unit, gathered at the first-ever Innovate4Water conference in Nairobi.
The conference's overarching aim was to match promising water entrepreneurs with financing opportunities to scale and demonstrate innovative solutions to Kenya’s and surrounding markets challenges related to water and sanitation. More than 40 entrepreneurs and larger companies were given the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and needs for partners and capital towards the participating financial institutions, while numerous panels of experts discussed how to translate challenges related to clean water, non-revenue water, sanitation and climate change into business cases and impact through partnerships.
N.Rottbøll, Founder and CEO of Quercus Group, presentation at Innovate4Water Conference
“The need for new innovative solutions and business cases is there. The money is there. The political will is there. And the solutions are there. Now we must connect the dots by matching needs with capital and solutions in new innovative partnerships between public, private, financial and civil society organisations. With this conference we have created an understanding of the long-term value and business cases for investing in improved water infrastructure” says Founder and CEO of Quercus Group, Nicolai Rottbøll, who had the honour of co-organising the conference with Waterpreneurs, Blue Ribbon Concepts, Kenya Climate Innovation Center and Kenya’s Vision 2030 Unit.
Lastly, universal water supply and sanitation cannot be achieved without active stakeholder engagement and community consultations. Conferences like Innovate4Water can ensure that the right solutions are being proposed and collectively implemented to promote sustainable development in Kenya.