RATIONING TO PERSIST

Systemic failure to blame for Nairobi water shortage, says official

Ndakaini Dam manager says city authorities have not upscaled service amid growing population

In Summary

'Nairobi is growing day and night. After 10 years, we need to upscale the facilities due to demand'

A worker inside the Northern Water Collector Tunnel in Makomboki, Murang’a county
A worker inside the Northern Water Collector Tunnel in Makomboki, Murang’a county
Image: ALICE WAITHERA

 

 

Water rationing in Nairobi is a result of systemic failure and may not end unless another water collector tunnel is put up in the next five years.

 

Ndakaini Dam manager Job Kihamba told the Star on Monday that Nairobi's water problems are a result of the failure by authorities to upscale services to meet the demands 0f the city's rapidly growing population.

The 2019 national census shows Nairobi has a population of 4,397, 073 people.

"Nairobi is growing day and night. After 10 years, we need to upscale the facilities due to demand," Kihamba said on the phone.

According to Kihamba, Nairobi ought to have had the first collector tunnel in 2005. The second tunnel would have been completed and operational by 2015.

"The 2009 drought hit Nairobi hard. That is where water rationing began," Kihamba said.

He said another collector tunnel should be in place by 2025. "The delay in rolling out some of these projects is the cause of the problem," he said.

The manager said the water in Ndakaini Dam is still overflowing.

"The rivers are still flowing meaning there is water."

Ndakaini Dam has a storage capacity of 70 million cubic metres. It is 2,041 metres above sea level and 65 metres deep.

The dam has a 75-square-kilometer catchment area, including Kimakia and Gatare forests in the Aberdares. Thika, Githika and Kayuyu drain in the dam.

The Nairobi city has been grappling with water shortage for years as the demand keep rising. A masterplan projects the city will require 1.2 billion litres of water daily by 2035.

The installed capacity of Ndakaini Dam is 525,600 cubic metres per day, against a demand of 790,000 cubic metres. This leaves a shortfall of 264,400 cubic metres.

Sources say Nairobi's water infrastructure is crumbling. The city does not have used water treatment plants.

Authorities say the dilapidated water pipes are a major reason for the shortage.

It is estimated that the city loses non-revenue water valued at Sh3.7 billion per year due to broken pipes, leakage and vandalism as well as illegal connections.

This is equivalent to 40 per cent of the total water supply. Non-revenue water is that which is produced but lost through leakage or theft.

Authorities expect the Northern Collector Tunnel in Murang'a t add 140,000 cubic metres to the daily supply. The tunnel is expected to be operational by December this year.

Maragua Dam is also expected to supply 120,000 cubic metres once complete.

And as the city's water problems persist, scientists have warned that the weather patterns are changing and there could be more delays in rainfall seasons.

 

edited by p. obuya