By Gift Briton and Joyce Ojanji

A partnership between Kenya and Germany is set to benefit 23 Kenyan hospitals with solar water desalination plants to improve hygiene and sanitation, especially during this COVID-19 period.

The collaboration between Boreal Light and Atmosfaire (German companies), WaterKiosk, and the government of Kenya led to the commissioning and handing over of one of the plants to Kibra level IV Hospital in Nairobi.

The water desalination plant in Kibra level IV hospital

Speaking during the ceremony, Dr.  Rashid Aman, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Kenyan Ministry of Health described the equipment as a game changer in achieving universal health coverage noting that “quality water cuts across all sectors.”

Each desalination plant can be remotely operated,  uses solar power energy, and can purify up to 40, 000 liters of raw water per day.

Dr. Aman noted that despite the government digging up more than 100 boreholes across many hospitals in Nairobi county, most health facilities still lack quality water due to the high concentration of fluorides in the borehole water making it unsuitable for use in treatment, care, and maintenance of hospital equipment.

Thus, he said,  making hospitals have a reliable flow of quality water will improve the efficiency of most health facilities by extending the life of many equipment and making them easier to maintain.

Dr. Rashid Aman

Dr.  Hamed Beheshti, Chief Executive Officer, Boreal Light, noted that the water desalination plants which operate solely on solar energy do not require any chemicals for the treatment process.

Additionally, he noted that besides offsetting over 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission per year and acting as a role model of climate mitigation practices, the solar water desalination plants across East Africa have also employed over 180 people with more than six million people directly benefitting from the project annually.

Meanwhile, with just 67% of Kenyan households having access to clean water and 12% still practicing open defecation the CAS Ministry of Water Kenya, Dr. Andrew Tuimur revealed that the Ministry is willing to be actively involved and participate in various key interventions to address the gaps that exist in the provision of water and sanitation services as well as facilitate a framework for sustainable management.

Dr. Andrew Tuimur

Christian Friedemann, representing the federal republic of Germany during the event expressed the interest of the German government in maintaining strong and deep ties with the government of Kenya in areas of development noting that his government looks forward to continued collaboration and partnership. “This project is good for every pillar of development and contributes towards achieving sustainable goal number three (good health and well-being) and six(clean water and sanitation),” he said.

Wajir county referral hospital, a beneficiary of the plant, used to experience frequent breakdowns of equipment due to the usage of saline water. This situation could at times lead to a spike in renal cases. However, since they started using the purified water, there has been no instance of such breakdown at least for the last four months. Additionally, since they installed water desalination equipment, cases of cholera have reduced.