Kibera is the largest slum in Kenya with an average population of about 250k people. Most of this population live below a dollar a day, so access to clean water and sanitation facilities has been a challenge. However, some efforts have been made by the governments and a lot of NGOs to improve on this and raise the living standards of this community.
Over the years, projects have been run in the various wards in Kibera, most of them targeting to improve access to water, and to have dignified sanitation facilities. From building ablution blocks to providing free water tanks to the communities to run water points, the expected result would be that the water challenge would be solved.
Walking down various parts of Kibera, you will find huge water tanks, donated by well-wishing NGOs, and government officials, but these tanks are dry without water, therefore, not serving the community as intended. Some of the community groups that own such tanks reveal that they have not received water for as long as 3 years. This is clearly unsustainable and a waste to funds used for such initiatives.
So, we ask the question, WHERE IS THE WATER?
Over the past few months, Kenya was pounded by heavy downpour especially from the months of March through May. We received at least 20% more rainfall than what was anticipated. With this, it was expected that the supply of water would be much improved. But this has not been the case for the urban poor in Kibera.
Running Our Mobi-Water Pilot in Kibera has been eye opening and has enabled us to receive data that was previously not available. Monitoring water at the community level has allowed us to clearly see the gap in the water needs of the communities Vs actual water distribution from the Utilities.
Discussed in this analysis is data from three water points in Kibera, in three different locations.
Water point A, Location Makina Ward;
Water Point B, Location Sarangómbe Ward;
Water Point C, Location Laini Saba Ward
The above is recent Monthly data collected for both water points. It clearly shows the irregular distribution of water.
The first water Point has completely lacked water for this entire month that the data was collected. The water level, represented by the blue line was at zero the entire month, apart from a few days where they had just above 1,000L of water. Serving at least 300 people per day, this water was quickly used up and the water point was dry again.
The effects of this, as imagined, are many. From increased water prices due to increased demand, to poor sanitation and basic hygiene practices, the community that depend on Water Point A are clearly stressed for water.
Water Point B, is a community water point as well serving above 300 people per day. The data however, shows a difference in how they receive their water. For the entire month that this data was collected, this particular water point has not run dry once. Their reservoir was filled to the brim on most days.
Water Point C,also a community water point, and serving the same number of people, gets water only once a week, Mostly during the weekends. They then must manage this water throughout the week until their next refill.
These three water points are all located within Kibera, which is only 650 acres, and they all have very different water distribution patterns.
This then raises the question on the Imbalanced water distribution for people of the same community, and what can be done about it.
How is water distributed in Kibera and how do we ensure equitable access?
Can real-time data be used to inform decisions on water distribution so that we ensure total inclusion and equitable water access?
The infrastructure is there, it’s just not being put to use efficiently. Without proper water distribution, all these initiatives are made irrelevant. There is need to take a further step to ensure efficiency and sustainability of Implemented projects, if we truly intend to solve the water challenge.
Efficient water monitoring and using Data is key in shedding light on the sustainability of such projects for communities, not just in Kibera, but the rest of Kenya as well.