Taps in a majority of households have dried up forcing residents to outsource the precious commodity from vendors who are outrightly taking advantage of the situation with their exorbitant prices.
Dry taps in Nairobi have become a norm with most taps remaining dry for weeks or months, a situation that has been heavily blamed on cartels that have been painted as ghostly and are blamed for every crisis in the County have on numerous occasions been said to be behind the dry taps.
Nairobi residents have had to survive on rationed water for years but the current state of no water is most expensive and frustrating as a 20-liter jerry can is now selling for 50-100 shillings.
In a city where water is used in every aspect of life including toilets, life is slowly becoming impossible for most households struck by the current water crisis. Water shortage is known to be accompanied by waterborne diseases and Nairobi residents understand this too well as it is difficult to verify the hygiene levels of water being sold by vendors in our estates.
A 20-liter jerry can of water is currently selling for 50 shillings in Pangani, a densely populated area along Thika road, a 30-minute walk from the Central Business District (CBD). Water sold by the vendors may not be up to standards for consumption use but do such residents have better options?
The Tug of War Over Ndakaini Dam
There has been a tag of war between Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko and Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria over Ndakaini dam located in Murang’a.
Ndakaini has been a source for Nairobi water for the longest time but the inception of Governor Mwangi wa Iria so trouble brew after he proposed that Nairobi residents pay for the water they use from the dam.
This did not go down well with Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who had at the time embarked on a project to demolish illegal structures built on the riparian land. Governor Sonko threatened to demolish Mwangi wa Iria’s property built on public land or riparian space.
Governor Mike Sonko also toured the Ndakaini dam in June and said that water rationing would continue indefinitely due to insufficient water levels he witnessed, a year down the line the situation seems to change.
When the Nairobi Governor was campaigning to be elected to his current office, one of the promises he made to Nairobians was to sort out the water crisis. Sonko promised to rid the city of cartels that were said to be behind the such-like crisis in Nairobi.
Areas Hit by the Water Crisis
Lang’ata, Buruburu, Umoja, Harambee, Jamhuri, Pangani, Ngara, and Komarock are some of the areas that have attested to the water crisis that proceeded on even during the festive season despite the majority of residents having traveled upcountry.
Water vendors, just like umbrella sellers who always emerge whenever the rain threatens to pour down have come out in large numbers baring their Mikokoteni to solve the water crisis at a very expensive price.
Where do water vendors get the water to fill up 100-200 20-liter containers in estates where taps have been dry for weeks and months? Why does a can of water have to cost so much yet water in slums will sell for 5 shillings for the same 20-liter can? Is it a tailored problem to ‘fatten’ a few at the cost of already exploited resident?
Solutions to the Crisis
Water problems could be here to stay if not worsen given Nairobi County’s growing population.
Strategies to trap water are yet to be put in place as the same county that is seen struggling with water crisis is the same that will experience floods within five hours of rainfall. Rainfall water is not sufficiently trapped leading to a lot of wastage and a few months later the residents cannot have water flowing in their taps for months.
Water crisis was predicted to persist up to 2026 the then Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company acting Managing Director, Engineer Nahashon Muguna, and the residents, therefore, have around seven years to grapple with the struggles. Nahashon said the problem was to be resolved through the construction of dams to enable efficient water harvesting.
Whether the growing population in Nairobi County alone can wait for seven more years to quench its thirst remains to be seen having in mind that the population is not stagnating while awaiting the construction of dams.