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Nairobi slum women offer free sex for water as rationing bites

The ongoing water rationing in Nairobi has dealt a big blow to slum dwellers. Lack of water has led to a rise in divorce, separation, fights among married couples and even sex trade.

With the water rationing exercise that kicked off in January still in effect, some married couples have been compelled to go their separate ways.

Fred Owino, a water vendor who sells a 20-litre gallon at between Sh80-100, says some women have resorted to selling their bodies in exchange for the commodity.

“I have been offered sex by countless desperate women for free in exchange for water. Sometimes, I turn them down for fear of sexually transmitted infections,” Owino told Nairobi News.

He further narrated how he has witnessed break up between couples over water issues. The couples, he said, drifted apart amid constant fights.

The situation has become so dire for months that some couples have been forced to go for days without taking a bath, considering the amount of dirt they accumulate on a daily basis.

With rising cost of living, most of the residents are torn between buying food or water from the little they make on a daily basis, a spot check in Mathare valley slum has revealed.

BROKEN HOMES

Joyce Nabwire, a mother of three and a victim of separation in Gumba estate, Mathare Valley said she comes from Mradi area which is about 10km to in search of water.

She says that she had been queuing for more than four hours waiting for her turn to fetch the precious commodity.

This has been her routine for the past two months.

She says the last time she saw her husband was home was three weeks ago when they had a fight over water.

Her children, who have been ill, keep asking her about their dad. She keeps telling them he went for work.

“Ever since my husband disappeared three weeks ago, life has become so hard. I have to split my time between taking the children to the hospital, fetching water and looking for food. Every time I am out to get clean water for consumption, my children resorts to taking unhealthy sewage water and end up ill from time to time. Mosquitoes too and sanitation issues are on the rise because of the stagnant dirty water,” said the exhausted Nabwire.

WATER SHORTAGE

In some cases, people have lost their jobs because of spending their mornings looking for water and going to work late.

According to Owino, school-going children are the most affected as they are left under the care of single parents.

“I come across school children who are sick and smeared with feces all over their bodies. Most of the children are as a result of consuming sewage water,” says Owino.

Linet Adhiambo a resident at Gumba estate in Mathare Valley slum says, the environment has also been affected.

She said that with the water shortage in the area, sewage does not flow, which has provided breeding points for mosquitoes and other insects.

Some school going children have been forced to drop out of school to help their parents to collect clean water for household use, adds Linet Adhiambo.

“Some young girls who have dropped from school have gone into prostitution to help supplement their families’ incomes,” she said.