Nairobi water mixes with sewage – again

A cholera outbreak is imminent in Nairobi’s Umoja suburb after the city’s drinking water once again got entangled with the sewer system.

Part of the fast growing Umoja Innercore suburb of Nairobi.

Part of the fast growing Umoja Innercore suburb of Nairobi.

Should such an outbreak emerge, hundreds of thousands could be affected in the densely populated suburb, about 12km east of the Kenyan capital.

It is the third time in less than a year that the scandalous mix up of fresh water with sewage has occurred. In previous episodes, the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) blamed haphazard construction of high-rise flats for breakdowns in the sewer system.

Owners of the houses have however blamed the Nairobi City Council for allocating land without informing developers that they are actually building on top of sewer lines. As a result, demolition of properties built on sewer reserves cannot legally proceed because developers were issued valid documents by the City Council.

As the NCWSC attempts to yet again rectify the situation, water supply to Umoja has been shut down. Residents can be seen moving from estate to estate in a vain search for the precious liquid. Certainly, this is a waste of productive time.

Water vendors have emerged to exploit the crisis. A single 20-litre container of water is retailing at Shs40 (US$0.52). Considering that an average household requires at least 5 containers a day, the costs of water are straining family budgets at a time of rising food and fuel prices.

Meanwhile, Nairobi’s water supply is fast diminishing due to drought. The main water reservoir at Ndakaini is at alarmingly low levelS. The second reservoir at Sasumua, which is in Kinangop, is all but dry. In any case, part of Sasumua dam collapsed six years ago and has never been repaired. Nairobi is getting less water compared to ten years ago when suburbs like Umoja had just a fraction of their present population.

With ongoing shortages of food and fuel coupled with power blackouts, the patience of Kenyans will soon stretch to its limits with calamitous consequences.

Previous articles:

Sewage and water mix-up draws anger

Nairobi water shortages to get worse

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