SAMANTHA SPOONER: It is insane water is still rationed years after the drought
Seems like forever now that for three days a week my father becomes the very strict ‘water keeper’. Empty toilet rolls are slid over toilet handles to prevent any flushing, waste shower water is meticulously collected to fill cisterns and wash cars and buckets are placed outside to collect rainwater.
Not a drop is wasted.
This drill has been happening ever since water rationing began in 2006. When the rationing started, it was when the drought hit, threatening thousands of people’s lives and livelihoods and drying out reservoirs.
But why is the rationing still happening today?
It is estimated that only 40 per cent of those with house connections receive water continuously. While many of us are just inconvenienced by having to invest in storage tanks and not take the odd shower, there is huge suffering in Nairobi because of water rationing.
Research by the iHub Research’s M-Governance project team says that “sustainable access to safe water is around 60 per cent in the urban setting and drops to as low as 20 per cent in the settlements of the urban poor where half of the urban population lives”.
So even when there are water access points in low-income settlements, the water rationing has resulted in increased prices at water kiosks and corruption, this has an acute impact on the urban poor.
If the reason for rationing is that we face an increasing demand with a limited supply then why isn’t there a strong push for individual water conservation measures in the city?
Nationally we can only hope as the government continues to protect our water towers, it looks into sustainable systems of water harvesting and plug all those pipe leaks! But the water-conservation mentality should be fostered down to the individual.
A big push for water use efficiency and recycling would reduce consumption.
A final thought to Nairobi Water Company: What are your plans for that newly discovered underground water reservoir in Turkana?