• The project was initiated in 2020 at the height of Covid-19 to support hospitals to have clean drinking water.
• The solar desalination systems are powered by a 450kWp and require no chemicals to treat water.
Relatives and friends will no longer have to buy pure bottled water for use by patients at Kibera Level 3 Hospital, and soon many others.
The hospital now has plenty of quality hygienic water for dialysis and other medical purposes, as well as drinking.
The hospital has received a solar-powered water desalination plant. Water is free.
Twenty-seven other facilities in Kenya are also receiving desalination plants for a continuous supply of purified water.
Desalination removes salt, minerals and bacteria and impurities so it can be used for drinking,
The project is expected to benefit six million people annually and create at least 52 direct jobs and 130 indirect jobs.
Kenyan water is highly salinated and desalinisation is expensive, about Sh200 per litre, so partners are needed.
The high cost makes it prohibitive to use sea water as a continuous supply, though it is used in the Middle East.
The plant was installed at the facility by WaterKiosk, a new Nairobi-based company in partnership with DEG (a German company), Boreal Light and the German government.
The solar desalination systems are powered by a 450kWp and require no chemicals to treat water.
The plant is one of 28 solar water desalination plants installed in various health facilities across the country. the plants also sterilise wastewater from different departments prior to disposal to the environment.
“Apart from the health facilities facing a challenge accessing clean water for their renal unit, patients had challenges too,” WaterKiosk managing director Samuel Kinyanjui said.
He added, "Family members had to bring water to them in hospitals which is not only inconveniencing, but also painful and sad. Now the hospitals are benefiting from these desalination machines free of charge and patient are accessing the same water at absolute no cost.”
The project was initiated in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to support hospitals with clean drinking water after it was realised that potable water was a problem.
The German arm of entrepreneurship supplied the equipment while WaterKiosk did the installation and training.
It will provide technical support to ensure all systems are running and producing quality water for human consumption.
“We have looked at all the gaps we have to fill to improve our health systems. a project like this contributes to that effort because we can provide clean water,” Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman said.
“The facility has a borehole that produces saline water containing chemicals. Kenyan water tends to be saline.
The solar desalinisation unit cleans it up to a high degree so water can be used in equipment for renal dialysis," Aman said.
Former director of health services at NMS Dr Ouma Oluga said diarrheal diseases are among the top three in Nairobi. They are the Number Two cause of mortality and morbidity for children younger than five years.
Oluga said nearly 30,000 children die yearly the across the country; 8,000 to 9,000 die in Nairobi alone because of diseases from contaminated drinking water.
“We still have problems with diseases such as HIV and 168,000 people are living with HIV. Diarrheal diseases are among the opportunistic infections they get," Oluga said.
Nairobi has a water shortage and many estates have borehole water that also comes with high levels of fluoride, he said.
Water CAS Andrew Tuimur estimates the current water coverage Kenya is 67 per cent. The county hopes to attain 100 per cent coverage by 2030.
The average of sanitation overage countrywide is only 26 per cent so there's a lot to be done.
“Sanitation has been left behind for a very long time and, in fact, Kibera is a very good example of where sanitation is very low.
(Edited by V. Graham)