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Why Nairobi is water scarce

Evelyn Makena @evemake_g

Nairobi county residents have been grappling with water shortage for long. Acting Environment, Water and Natural Resources Executive Mohamed Ahmed Dagane talks about the issue and interventions put in place.

Q: There has been an acute water shortage in Nairobi county. What is contributing to that?

A: The demand for water in the city is higher than the supply. The supply per day is 503,000 cubic metres against a demand of 760,000m3 while the installed production capacity is 525,600 m3 per day. This production capacity cannot be met due to the low water levels of our dams caused by the ongoing drought in the Aberdare ranges, our catchment area.

Are thre any other factors behind the water shortage?

A: The last time there was investment in the development of the water sources for the city was 1997 under the third Nairobi City Water Project and the water was supposed to serve the city until 2000. The city has grown but the supply of water has not grown in tandem.

A prolonged drought since 2014 to date and degradation of catchment areas has contributed to the situation. Besides, global warming, which has contributed to erratic weather patterns, inadequate rains, which we sorely rely on to recharge the rivers and increase flow to the dams, is another contributing factor.

What interventions has the ministry put in place to address the issue?

A: The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Ltd has rolled out a strict equitable water distribution to ensure the available water is shared to the city residents accordingly. A disconnection programme on all car wash facilities has been rolled out by the ministry to ensure available commodity is used for domestic purposes. The county also intends to drill 85 boreholes where each ward will be allocated one borehole.

To what extent is climate change and destruction of water catchment areas responsible for crisis?

A: The recharge of the rivers has been poor and currently the flows are below normal affecting the recharge of Thika (Ndakaini) Dam. Degradation of aquatic systems has led to flooding, reduced ground water recharge and reduced stream base flow.

Are there plans to ensure current sources of water for Nairobi are supplemented?

A: Yes. There are ongoing plans to construct Northern Collector tunnel, which will draw floodwater from rivers in upper Murang’a to add 140,000 m3 per day to the water supply by 2020. In addition, development of Karemenu 2 and Ruiru 2 dam expected to be completed by 2023, will bring 70,000m3 per day of water to the city. Boreholes have been used to supplement supply, especially in the dry season when rain water is scarce.

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