One of the biggest challenges facing Nairobi City County is adequate supply of clean and safe water. With a population of 4 million, the County’s water demand stands at 720,000 cubic meters per day against current supply of 570,000 cubic meters per day.
A new study by JKUAT’s Water Research and Resource Centre (WARREC) has revealed that by tapping just 30% of storm water, the County could bring additional 596,485 cubic meters per day under its reservoirs.
The study which also looked into the patterns of water saving and use among Nairobi residents found that 65.2% of residents in low income areas do not harvest rain water; with the figure rising to 82.4% for middle income residents.
The lead researcher for the study, Prof. Bancy Mati says, due to lack of storm water harvesting systems in Nairobi’s households, most of it is lost through the sewer lines.
Prof. Mati has subsequently called for new estates and settlements to have an accompanying storm water management plan that encompasses storage, recycling, and reticulation.
On water wastage, the study has revealed that 28% of water supplied to Nairobi is wasted through leaking pipes. Sampled residents also engaged in wasteful habits such letting taps to run when not in use.
Prof. Mati further called for adoption of water saving technologies in Nairobi households and behavior change. She pushed for government intervention by providing equipment that can help residents use less water; much like was the case with energy saving bulbs.
Speaking during the study’s validation workshop, Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC) Technical Director, Eng. Nahason Muguna said the County’s water demands continue to sour in the wake of erratic weather patterns.
Muguna revealed that even when the northern collector tunnel becomes operational in 2020, the demand will have outstripped the expected cumulative 820, 000 cubic meters of water available for use by city residents.
Comparing Nairobi to South Africa’s Durban, Muguna said, there was urgent need to invest in storm water harvesting and technologies that can foster prudent utilization of the resource. Durban has 480 million cubic meters for its 3.6 million residents yet Nairobi which has a population of 4.3 million, has capacity of 88 million cubic meters only,” he posed.
The study was a joint initiative between WARREC and NCWSC. The two entities signed a memorandum of understanding in 2014 to undertake targeted studies aimed at enhancing the water company’s capacity to effectively deliver its mandate through knowledge-driven decision making and resource allocation.