Nairobi’s severe water shortage threatens marginalised

Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is suffering from a water shortage, threatening the livelihoods of almost 3.5 million residents. In January 2018, the Government of Nairobi stated that nearly half a million households in the metropolis had no access to water, with the low levels of water from 2017 having left the city in a strenuous situation. Presently, Nairobi is on the verge of experiencing a scenario similar to that of Cape Town, South Africa, if rainfall in April is unable to recharge dwindling water reserves.

The Ndakaini Dam, Nairobi’s main water reservoir, was down to less than 40 per cent capacity in February 2017, requiring drastic measures such as domestic rationing since January 2018 in order to avoid a severe water crisis. However, Nairobi’s most impoverished neighbourhoods are particularly at risk, as water shortages tend to exacerbate the spread of diseases like cholera, dysentery, and typhoid, which are connected to poor sanitation. In Africa, more than 60 per cent of the population live in slum conditions without access to clean water and sanitation.

Sanitation was one of the worst performing sectors monitored by the Millennium Development Goals, and in order for Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation – to be met, according to the World Water Council, society must innovate and people must act.

“We need to look for forms of cooperation to rise to the sanitation challenge, finding win-win financial and technical solutions and increasing political will for prioritising sanitation services,” president of the World Water Council, Benedito Braga, said. “This is particularly important in Africa, where there is much work to be done in terms of sanitation infrastructure. We must persevere in this attempt to encourage cooperation and development, so the entire region can benefit and continue down the path of sustainable development.”