Water lines at a Kiosk in Kenya

Living in a country on the equator, Kenyans probably should drink more water a day to be healthy than people who live in cold countries.  But on a continent where water is scarce and the quality is often poor, these issues are often overlooked.Water, or rather the access to clean water comes with a whole different set of challenges in Kenya.

According to Wikipedia, “Estimates from the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) show that in 2008 59% of Kenyans (83% in urban areas and 52% in rural areas) had access to improved drinking water sources. 19% of Kenyans (44% in urban areas and 12% in rural areas) are reported as having access to piped water through a house or yard connection. According to the JMP estimates, access to improved water sources in urban areas decreased from 91% in 1990 to 83% in 2008. In rural areas, however, access increased from 32% to 52% during the same period.”

We know that the poor, in particular women and girls, spend a significant amount of time fetching water in both rural and urban areas.

Quality of Water

A citizens’ report carried out in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu in 2007 provides information about customers’ perception of water quality: around 70% of households using water from connections to the mains said they found the taste and smell of water acceptable, and that the water was clear.

Even so, the vast majority of respondents treat water prior to consumption, which shows continuing uncertainty about its quality. Or they buy water from a water kiosk.

Access to Safe Water Supplies

Water.org reports that according to the Joint Monitoring Programme’s 2012 report, access to safe water supplies throughout Kenya is 59% and access to improved sanitation is 32%. There is still an unmet need in rural and urban areas for both water and sanitation.

Water, sanitation and hygiene related illnesses and conditions are the number one cause of hospitalization in children under age five. Access to water and sanitation also contribute to time savings for women, more hours in school for girls, and fewer health costs.

Water Kiosks

Water kiosks typically receive treated water from utilities through a piped distribution network. Where water supply in the network is intermittent, kiosks sometimes also have a water storage tank.In rural areas, water for kiosks can sometimes come directly from a well, spring, stream or lake after treatment.

In Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, water kiosks have existed since the 1970s. Kiosks are privately owned and the owners financed the construction of the kiosks and the pipes to the water mains.Many non- profit organisations work in Kenya together with communities to set up Water kiosks, so that the residents have access to treated water, which in turn changes their lives by removing the cause of many health issues.

Compassionate Eye and Free The Children (FTC) – a non-profit have been working on a water kiosk project in the Masaai Mara region in south-western Kenya.  These new water kiosks will bring so much more to the communities than just water- it will gives schools and communities access to fresh water on a daily basis, which in turn, will give the young girls of the community the opportunity to further their education.

image:Compassionate Eye Foundation

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