NMS BUILDS 193 BOREHOLES

How free borehole water has relieved slum dwellers

Badi promises safe, accessible, affordable and regular water supply for all residents.

In Summary

• The boreholes have been drilled by the Nairobi Metropolitan Service in partnership with Athi Water Works at a cost of Sh 1.7 billion.

• For the ciy residents in affected areas, the boreholes have relieved them from the stress of purchasing water.

President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioning community water project at Soweto, Nairobi on February 19 , 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioning community water project at Soweto, Nairobi on February 19 , 2021
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

At least two million city residents mostly in the slums are enjoying free water from 193 boreholes dug by the government.

The boreholes supply more than 40 million litres of water.

In the past two weeks, President Uhuru Kenyatta has commissioned five water projects in Nairobi including Muthua, Kabiria and Huruma community water projects.

The boreholes have been drilled by the Nairobi Metropolitan Service in partnership with Athi Water Works at a cost of Sh 1.7 billion.

NMS director-general Mohammed Badi noted that his team will make every effort to have a city where water is safe, accessible, affordable and regular for all the residents. 

Last Friday while speaking in Kayole, Uhuru announced residents should access water from the boreholes without paying a single coin.

He acknowledged that despite many mega water projects ongoing, water still remained a big challenge in the city. 

"Water scarcity is one of the major problems facing Nairobi but the government instructed NMS to drill boreholes even as we wait for the projects to be completed,” Uhuru said

"People in informal settlements can now get water for free from these boreholes.” 

President Kenyatta commissions the Muthua community water supply project on February 12, 2021
President Kenyatta commissions the Muthua community water supply project on February 12, 2021
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

For the city residents in affected areas, the boreholes have relieved them from the stress of purchasing water.

Rashid Abdalla, 37, said he had been purchasing water from vendors since he moved to Kayole in 2016.

One jerry can in Soweto costs between Sh20 and Sh40 depending on the size and litres it holds.

“As a man with a family, water is essential for domestic use so in a day I could end up spending Sh120 to buy four jerry cans,” Abdalla said.

“But at least for the past few months, we have seen the change from witnessing drilling of boreholes and now we just queue to get free water”.

Mary Nyasuguta, a resident of Dandora 4, said the boreholes have helped in cutting down expenses in her grocery business.

“I used to spend Sh40 at least daily to buy water in order to clean my vegetables and utensils. But now I get water direct from the boreholes and end up saving a few coins,” she said.

With the boreholes, it won’t be business as usual for the water vendors as they are set to have a decrease in customers.

Despite the boreholes, many water vendors have vowed to continue selling to willing customers.

“Business will definitely be affected but I know not many people will line up in queues to get water from the boreholes, so I will still continue with my business,” said Peter Omega, a water vendor in Soweto.

Cabinet Secretary for Water Sicily Kariuki said her ministry has the responsibility to ensure that water fetched from the boreholes will not be sold.

“The water from the boreholes should be utilized by the beneficiaries at no charge and for their benefit and not for re-sale ,” she said.

Cabinet Secretary Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Sicily Kariuki and Nairobi Metropolitan Service Director General Mohammed Badi inspecting completed Mathare Community Water Supply in Mathare on June 17,2020
Cabinet Secretary Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Sicily Kariuki and Nairobi Metropolitan Service Director General Mohammed Badi inspecting completed Mathare Community Water Supply in Mathare on June 17,2020
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

The water crisis since 2017 in the capital has been felt by residents living in the city’s informal settlements.

Badi emphasized that the boreholes have also reduced the number of water cartels in the county. 

Water demand in Nairobi has grown to more than 810, 000 cubic meters daily against an installed production of 525, 600 cubic meters daily, presenting a demand gap of 284, 400 cubic meters.

Due to the shortage, Nairobi residents have fallen victim to water vendors who have been milking them by selling water.

President Uhuru Kenyatta washes hands at one of the water taps in Mathare on June 30
HAND WASHING: President Uhuru Kenyatta washes hands at one of the water taps in Mathare on June 30
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

In May last year, NMS and Athi Water commenced drilling of boreholes and elevation of steel water tanks as part of ongoing water interventions in the informal settlements in Nairobi.

According to a United Nations report in 2019, more than 90 per cent of the population in Kenya’s urban areas had access to clean water in 1990.

As of 2019, it was estimated that just 50 per cent of Nairobi’s 4.5 million residents had direct access to piped water.

The other half were reported to get water from vendors, illegal connections and water kiosks.

Last year, Badi said illegal connections and vandalism of water and sewage systems are rampant in most informal settlements.

“Illegal connections and vandalism of water and sewer infrastructure are a criminal offence and can attract a fine of Sh100,000 or a jail term of two years or both, according to the Water Act, 2016,” he said.

In October 2019,  City Hall earned about Sh13 million as penalties for illegal water connections in the 2018-19 financial year.

The City Hall-based court had fined 232 people about Sh3.2 million in the same period, according to the Water Department.

Edited by Henry Makori