It’s mid-morning when we meet Timinah Nyamai at her home in Changamwe, Mombasa. She’s washing dishes at the tap on her doorstep – it’s only been two weeks since the water started running, and she can’t hide her joy.
Born and raised in Mombasa County, she tells us that only a few months earlier she would have thought a household water connection was a luxury reserved for the rich, not something she would ever have in an area where water supply has historically been sporadic and scarce. Recent efforts by the Mombasa Water Supply and Sewerage Company (MOWASSCO) to reach out to low income consumers like Timinah through extended water supply and service lines are changing that.
“Water is life, and everyone with a big or small family needs fresh water,” she tells us. Her family uses at least 10 jerricans of water a day. Before the yard tap connection was installed, her day would start as early as 5am with a 1km walk to a water kiosk. After waiting in long queues, she would walk home with at least 20 litres of water on her back and would spend at least KES 150 every day. Sometimes, on days when her soap making business had been more profitable, she would buy water from the push carts making home deliveries – more expensive, but avoiding the long walk to the water kiosk. Worried about the quality of the water sources, Timinah was also spending more money on water purifiers for her family’s drinking water.
Now, that daily routine has changed. MOWASSCO, with support and funding from WSUP and Vitens Evides International, has replaced the old, dilapidated water distribution lines in the areas and extended service lines. The project has extended water services to 52 residential blocks, a total of over 200 households. Timinah was the first person in the area to pay for one of the new water connections, and explains ‘Anyone with a family will see the sense in taking up the yard tap connection, comparing the expense of buying the yard tap with buying from a kiosk or push cart. Plus, it’s a one-off connection cost and I get to enjoy fresh water on my doorstep’. A Social Connection policy allows residents to pay for the new connections over a two-year period, spreading their costs. Before the tap was installed, Timinah paid at least KES 2400 per month for water, and sometimes as much as KES 4800. Now, she will pay a minimum of just KES 458 per month – a really significant saving.
Ultimately, for Taminah, ‘The project has really made life easier for me financially. It’s reduced time wasted queueing and I no longer have to worry about the quality of the water my family consumes.’