Water is a Community Service that MUST be provided to Residents via the County
By Najar Munyinyi
On the issue of County Governments selling water through Private Companies, while not providing TAP WATER to the same communities is deceitful. It is neither sweating the small stuff nor being petty over board membership. At all – It is being observant and asking those questions that must be asked. I personally think that the selling of water can never equate to the service of tap water and this issue cannot be 🚩Red Flagged enough.
Water is a community service that MUST be provided to residents via the county, but sadly our county governors and those in power only think of enriching themselves, and the narrative becomes lost in stupid excuses that
any child can see through. Buying BOTTLED water is a CHOICE. One cannot equate a county service with profiteering.
I don’t know if there are any annual reports regarding The Equator Glacier Bottled Water accounts and if there are, is it possible to peruse them? What are the profits, losses? Where do monies go?
The Equator Glacier Bottled Water belongs to NAWASCO and the filtration process, for example, is paid for by water bills of the same by those who HAVE access to tapped water – is it possible to also peruse these accounts?
County governments get a water budget from National Government.
How much has Nawasco received for WATER services? What projects are incomplete as per 2014? Which have been completed successfully? What are they? Are they community driven or does the county assume citizen needs?
How much of the bottled water could have gone into the taps but did not because it was being ‘sold’ – could we have a TRUE figure of the thousands of GALLONS that are bottled daily by Equator Glacier/NAWASCO? Frankly, some profit has to be made. The Water Business is a vastly mind-bogglingly lucrative and thus a (mafia like) cut throat business, and regarding society, it’s completely self-defeating for a service provider to sell water. If MAJENGO had piped water, then residents would NOT NEED BUY the bottled water.
Note that water BILLS are cheaper by about 2000% in many upmarket areas as water bills can be as low as 1500/- per month. Estimates vary, but each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water a day, for example Muthaiga or pale Lunatic Lane. The largest use of household water is to flush the toilet. Showers and baths come close second. If we add 2 children and 2 adults plus a cook and gardener per household, throw in 2 dogs and a cat and that would roughly be about 1000 gallons of water per day (includes washing cars as well as watering a garden). If we take a lower estimate and multiply this by let’s say 30 days, that means a normal household uses 30,000 gallons of water per month. For 1,500 Kenya shillings.
Communities with an intermittent water supply use 46.5 Lpcd (litre per capita per day). Note that this figure is per household and not per person in areas where there is irregular piped water supply and where communities use public taps to access water. Apart from the burden of women having to search for water vendors on a daily basis, could we ask a real question about the price of this water sold by vendors?
“Due to a combination of political exclusion, the operation of water mafias, water rationing, and poor infrastructure, residents of Kibera pay more for water than wealthier Kenyans in tapped neighborhoods of Nairobi, and more than even what Europeans and New Yorkers pay (see Crow and Odaba 2009; World Bank 2005). Kibera households spend up to 20% of their income on water—which can be equal to the cost of rent (UNDP 2006). On good days, the women and children of Kibera spend just under an hour locating a water vendor, queuing up, and carrying back the water. They will pay Ksh 2-3 per 20 liter (4 gallon) jerry can of water from any of the 650 water vendors in Kibera, roughly 98% of which are private enterprises and 20 that are run by community based organizations or NGOs. The Nairobi Water and Sewage Company recommends that the price for a jerry can of water be Ksh 1, so even at Ksh 2, residents of Kibera pay eight times the lowest tariff at domestic connections and four times the average tariff in Kenya (World Bank 2005).
In some villages, up to 85% of households are estimated to rely on these private and community owned water kiosks (Source: Umande Trust 2007). If the cost of water is as low as 20/- per 4 gallons (yellow jerry can) and a single household will require about 16 gallons – (most households use about 4 of the 4 gallon jerry cans per day) – that’s 80/- per day. In 30 days, a single household in #Majengo will have spent a minimum of 2400/- Kenya Shillings for Debe Water. It’s a killing!
Drinking water costs even more at 50/- per litre bottle – if the average person drinks at least a litre a day, drinking water can cost as much as the amount of people in the same household. An average would be 9 persons
per household or 13, 500 per month. Add this to the laundry and general purpose water and you get a figure of roughly 16,000/- for water alone. Per household of a forgotten majority.
Have I exaggerated? Please do some honest on-the-ground calculations based on real figures, as I have used estimates. However, this examples highlights the issues concerning optimum utilization of Laikipia’s natural
resources for an urban population – The Water Selling business is built on a mafia system where prices rise according to commodity demand.
The question is, how many gallons of water does Equator Glacier bottle per day, and does this affect the pumping of the same into taps in areas like #Majengo and #Ichuga?
Environmental Issues and Plastics
What about the disposal of plastic bottles? Has NAWASCO thought through the disposal of the thousands of water bottles it uses per day? Let me answer this, the weight of the disposal of water bottles and the cleaning up is left to the poor – which is why thousands of plastic bottles end up in the open drainage, in rubbish dumps, and in our rivers especially those that run through low income areas like #Likii
In Nanyuki – those who produce these bottles do not give a single thought to the MOUNTAINS of trash involved, nor of the health of the consumers. Is there a recycling small scale industry in Nanyuki that’s been sponsored by #NAWASCO to get rid of or dump these millions of plastic bottles and bottle caps?
This was an example of Laikipia County in the North. What of further North? Remember this as you seek to find out why many do not have tapped water in their homes. It is a nonsense story for water is a community service that
MUST be provided to residents via the county government.
Najar is a social activist.