The Pope and a humble community project in Nairobi’s Kangemi slum on Friday sent a strong global message about access to safe drinking water.This was after the Water for Pope Francis’ visit to the St Joseph’s Catholic Parish was provided by the Kangemi Resource Centre (KRC) in bottles featuring the Pope’s image under the Safe Water Enterprise programme developed by the Siemens Stiftung and SkyJuice Foundation.
According to the Pope, access to safe drinking water is a basic and universal human right. Speaking to a gathering of 1,200 representatives of 11 slums gathered in Kangemi, the Pope said water was essential to human survival and a condition for the exercise of other human rights. “Our world has a grave social debt to the poor who lack access to drinking water.”
He asked his audience to commit themselves to ensuring every family has access to drinking water, as well as dignified housing, a toilet and reliable sources of energy.
It is estimated that over 70% of people in Kangemi have no reliable access to safe drinking water, which reflects the situation in many parts of Kenya.
The Safe Water Enterprises are community-based water kiosks and social enterprises run by local partners such as the KRC. Since its commissioning in November 2013, it has been able to provide around 200 households, community institutions and schools with safe drinking water daily.
“We are proud to welcome the Pope in Kangemi and to provide the drinking water for the occasion. This is a great recognition of our work,” said KRC founder Alix D’Ansembourg.
“We are proud to serve water to our Pope and to our community,” said Father Callistus Jeje at the KRC. adding that “One of the great challenges in slum situations is access to clean water and people will see the value of water that even the Pope is able to use.”
The work of the KRC and the Siemens Stiftung is in line with the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by heads of state at the United Nations in September 2015. Goal Six calls for access for all to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030, improved water quality, and strengthening of local community participation in water management.
“The Pope’s visit to Kangemi is giving initiatives like ours great recognition for practical and effective development action, and the importance of providing safe drinking water,” sayid Rolf Huber, Managing Director of the Siemens Stiftung. “We are confident that our community approach with projects like the Safe Water Enterprise is a valuable contribution to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Siemens Stiftung operates in the fields of basic services, education, and culture. As a hands-on foundation, the company develops its own projects and implement them with a view to the long term. Together with its partners, Siemens Stiftung says its is to help people improve their living conditions