IMMENSE PRESSURE

Nairobi still faces challenges in restoring sewer systems

Land grabbing and disposals into rivers continue to hinder efforts put in ensuring access to clean water and sanitation.

In Summary

•According to a study carried out by the Water and Sanitation Program in 2014, highlighted that Poor sanitation costs Kenya Sh27 billion every year.

•In this Financial year 2020-21, Athi waters has partnered with the African Development Bank and the French Development Bank  where they plan to utilize Sh20 billion to improve on the sewerage infrastructure

Ongoing of unclogging of drainage lines in NairobiN
Ongoing of unclogging of drainage lines in NairobiN

Nairobi residents are still facing challenges in accessing proper water and sanitation despite efforts put in restoring sewer systems.

According to a documentary by Athi Water Works Development Agency on Independent community free water supply projects, only 48 per cent of the population is connected to the sewer systems.

This has lead to city dwellers moving into informal settlements where accessing water, is extremely difficult.

According to a study carried out by the Water and Sanitation Program in 2014, poor sanitation costs Kenya Sh27 billion every year.

It said the untreated sewage spills down into river channels, thus exposing the public to great health hazards and risks.

This leads to waterborne diseases and those that are brought by poor observation of sanitation.

According to the 2019 census, Nairobi has a population of 4.397 million people and 1.3 million households.

This has brought immense pressure to the water supply and sanitation company resulting in clogging of the pipes.

Currently, the National Government is implementing a plan to boost access to sanitation facilities in the next five years to rehabilitate Nairobi’s sanitation and infrastructure.

To improve on city water and enhance sanitation facilities for the residents, the Nairobi Regeneration Programme was launched in 2017.

However, the programme was officially handed over to the Nairobi Metropolitan Service following the deed of transfer in March last year.

“One of the major components of this programme is to fix broken sewer lines and to ensure that the unsewered estates like Roysambu get reasonable sewerage infrastructure invested,” Water CS, Sicily Kariuki said.

Athi Water Works Development Agency boss Michael Thuita said before the launch of the regeneration programme only 46 per cent of Nairobi’s population had coverage of sewer lines which has currently increased to 48 per cent with a clear plan to tackle the remainder.

“At the end of this programme we might be able to reach 65 per cent and ultimately by 2030, we will have covered about 80 per cent with the enhanced financing,” he said.

Since 2017,35 kilometres of sewer lines have been constructed to serve over 200,000 people in Nairobi and 10 kilometres of sewer lines have been unblocked.

However, it has not been a walk in the park for Athi Water while attempting to upgrade the sewer system in the city.

Despite the efforts put into fixing the sewer lines, Water CS Cicily Kariuki said they have been faced with a lot of challenges, with encroachment being among them.

With Nairobi’s population, there are only two main wastewater treatment plants in Kariobangi and Dandora.

The Kariobangi waste sewer plant treats 32, 000 cubic metres daily while the Dandora treatment plant popularly known as Ruai treats 210,000 cubic meters per day as compared to the amount of water supplied in the city which is about 440,000 cubic meters per day.

This reveals that the sewerage network capacity that treats the wastewater is far below the water being supplied in the city.

This has lead to city dwellers moving into informal settlements where accessing water, is extremely difficult.

On April 22 last year, Lands officials repossessed 1,600 acres in Ruai associated with a senior government official.

Last year in May, the water ministry repossessed its sewer land in Kariobangi North where at least 5,000 people were left homeless after their structures were demolished.

A modern wastewater recycling plant on the land is going to be set up by the State.

The Kariobangi treatment plant was initially designed to treat 32,000 cubic metres of wastewater daily but this has significantly declined to 11,000 cubic metres per day, with illegal and unlawful occupation being the single-most contributory factor.

The Water ministry said the sludge drying beds in Kariobangi, the trickling filters, as well as the bypass which was designed to convey wastewater overflow to Ruai Sewerage Treatment Plant have also been grabbed.

Human waste disposal into the rivers has proven to be a challenge for quite a long time now.

Residents have constructed latrines on drains through which the waste flows into the rivers.

As a result, the government has joined efforts to help solve the issue of waste drainage into rivers by rehabilitating river crossings across Ngong, Ruaraka, Mathare and Kibarage rivers.

Informal settlements in the city have continued to benefit from the improvement of sanitation where the proper erection of garbage collection points has been set up.

This has helped in reducing the flow of surface runoff sewers through slums into rivers and provision of ablution blocks and garbage collection points.

The ministry of water in collaboration with Athi waterworks aims to ensure Kenyans join the world in attaining universal sanitation and coverage by the year 2030

In this Financial year 2020-21, Athi waters has partnered with the African Development Bank and the French Development Bank  where they plan to utilise Sh20 billion to improve on the sewerage infrastructure

 

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris