A two-year project to bring safe, affordable drinking water to more than 50,000 of the poorest residents in Nairobi, Kenya, has now been inaugurated after successful completion earlier this year.

The initiative was co-funded by OFID (the OPEC Fund for International Development), the UK Government’s Department for International Development and Borealis and Borouge through their joint corporate social responsibility programme Water for the World™. Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) was responsible for implementation and project management.

An estimated 60% of Nairobi’s population live in informal settlements, with little access to water and sanitation. The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) has in the past found it difficult to invest in these services because of the haphazard design of the settlements, inadequate resources within the utility and a perception that residents would be unwilling to pay for services.  Residents without access to piped supplies therefore buy water from private street vendors, at much higher prices.

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The five partners came together to improve drinking water supplies in Nairobi’s Korogocho and Kahawa Soweto informal settlements. The initiative extended the existing network into the settlements, using high-quality polyethylene (PE) pipes. This allowed pre-paid water dispensers to be installed, which are now providing water for as low as one tenth the price that consumers used to pay to water vendors.

Korogocho inauguration May 2017

City leaders and local residents celebrate the inauguration, on 5 May 2017

“Innovative PE pipes can play an important role in addressing the global water challenge,” says Dorothea Wiplinger, Borealis Sustainability Manager. “To avoid the loss of water due to leakages and assure residents receive clean water that they can afford, PE pipes are an excellent solution because they last three times longer than existing pipes, suffer fewer breakages and need less maintenance.”

Monica Wanjiru, who lives in Kahawa Soweto

For local residents like Monica Wanjiru, the initiative has made a huge difference. Alongside her full-time job running a vegetable kiosk, she helps her daughter to run the Mwamko Children’s Centre in Kahawa Soweto – and it was a daily struggle to find enough water to keep the centre operating. “Water is now closer and cheaper,” Monica says.

“In line with our sustainability goals, we commit to addressing global challenges and adding value to people’s lives through sustainable plastics solutions,” says Craig Halgreen, Vice President Corporate Sustainability at Borouge. “At Borouge, we have experience in developing sustainable water systems for all kinds of environments and we are delighted to have supported this initiative based on our high-quality polyethylene materials.”

OFID Director-General Suleiman J. Al-Herbish says: “OFID’s contribution to the water and sanitation sector reached USD 1,151 million as of year-end 2016. These resources have supported a wide range of operations, from large-scale water storage, treatment and distribution projects, to village pumps and school latrines, as well as schemes for the rationalization of water use in arid regions. We are proud to have been part of this project and will continue to support sustainable development across the globe.”

“WSUP works with local providers to help them deliver the water and sanitation services and infrastructure that are so desperately needed by low-income urban communities,” explains Bill Peacock, WSUP’s Director of Programmes. “This project is a great example of how multi-sector partners can join forces and contribute their expertise to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The official inauguration took place on 5 May 2017 and was attended by Engineer Philip Gichuki, Managing Director, Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company, and Engineer Kimori, County Executive Committee Member for Water, Energy and Forestry at Nairobi City County.

Post by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor

wsupWSUP is a not-for-profit company that helps transform cities to benefit the millions who lack access to water and sanitation. We were created in 2005 as a response to the unprecedented urban explosion that has left cities unable to provide basic services, such as access to a toilet or drinking water, to low-income communities. We are based in the UK with offices in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Since inception we have helped over 10 million people access better water and sanitation services.