By Juliah Atieno
Mukuru Kwa Njenga is one of the most congested slums in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area. Thousands of people living here suffer from the effects of extreme poverty and are struggling to make ends meet, more so after losing their sources of income due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
More to that, they lack of the most essential basic need, water. Clean, adequate water safe for consumption has become the most expensive commodity. There is a limited number of water taps and with one 20 liters can of water going for up to Ksh.10, residents often have to dig deep into their already empty pockets in a bid to sustain their water consumption needs.
Sometimes, when the taps go dry due to factors such as road construction that damages water pipes or water rationing in Nairobi, residents have walk for long distances and carry strenuous loads to get water. As a result, most of the residents here are not able to keep up with the Ministry of Health guidelines for protecting themselves against COVID-19 such as regular hand washing.
In a bid to remedy this problem, the Athi Water Works Development Agencies resolved to drill 100 boreholes to supply 22.6 million litres of water to nearly 1.2 million residents in the Nairobi metropolitan area, targeting informal settlements such as Mukuru.
In May this year, boreholes were dug in Mukuru and water kiosks were built to provide free water to the vulnerable residents. They benefitted for a few days and the taps suddenly went dry. 6 months later and the situation has not improved. The water kiosks are now closed.
On April 4th, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to expand provision of free water to Mukuru kwa Njenga. This directive was followed, but only to some extent. NMS tankers do not bring water regularly and when they do, it’s not adequate.
The residents of Mukuru kwa Njenga need their needs to be met, in line with article 43 (1) (d) of the Constitutional, which provides that every citizen has the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities.