By Lilian Mutheu
Water is life. Life is existence. The earth itself is made of 70% water. Water is a very important aspect in life. Its usefulness can not be outlived. Human beings and most of the living things need and use water for their day to day lives. We use water to cook, drink, bathe, clean and perform household chores and other domestic uses.
For quite some time now, residents of Mukuru Kwa Njenga have been experiencing water shortages. Mukuru Kwa Njenga is one of the largest areas with informal settlements in Nairobi city. With the large population in this area, water becomes a very vital necessity and in cases of water shortages, many Mukuru residents suffer.
I took a tour within the Mukuru area and I came across several water kiosks. Most of the water kiosks were dry, with no water at all. According to Esther Wanjiru, the water kiosks ran dry shortly after they were installed. “These are some of the water points we have in Mukuru. Unfortunately, this one and several others in the neighbourhood ran dry last year, barely two months after they were installed. It was closed and we’ve never been informed why. For those two months, the kiosk served a lot of people and accessing water was simple and easy, now it is just a headache,” said Esther.
A kilometer away from that water kiosk, I found another water point. There were a lot of jerricans irregularly placed and people scattered with others convened to the water taps. On closer scrutiny, I realized that people were fighting, each struggling to have their jerricans full at the Mukuru Community Water Supply kiosk. “Water is only available at this kiosk two days a week, on Wednesday and Saturday. The water is salty. Some years ago, they came up with a project and dug a borehole. Now the water is conserved on that tank on top of the kiosk. With the short supply of water and high demand of the same, it usually is chaotic. Every Saturday when people come to fetch water, they have to fight. Everyone wants the resource and wants to fill up their jerricans as soon as possible because the water is not enough for everyone as it can run short at any time,” narrated Charles Maingi. “We have another water point near Sinai Hospital where there is fresh water,” said Charles.
I went further to the water point that Charles Maingi had referred me to. On reaching there, I found jerricans arranged in an orderly manner in a long line, all waiting to be filled with water. Mariah Kwamboka, a resident of Mukuru told us that the water was not available yet. “We are here waiting for the water lorry from Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) that usually brings water here every Saturday. The water is fresh and absolutely fit for human consumption. As you can see, the demand is very high. We only wish that the government can install numerous water points in every village so that we don’t have to come this far for water only to get here and line to fill our jerricans,” said Mariah.
Mukuru Kwa Njenga residents are in dire need of water. The government and community stakeholders should come up with projects to provide accessible water. As much as water is a basic need for human consumption, it also is a necessity in sanitation and fighting diseases especially during this Covid-19 era when Kenyans are required to wash their hands regularly and keep high standards of sanitation.