Plan for clean water to slums kicks off

Consumers queue for water in Nairobi. Photo/FILE
Consumers queue for water in Nairobi. Photo/FILE 

Four organisations, including two companies, have been selected to pilot a project that seeks to commercialise supply of clean water to informal settlements.

The small scale water vendors who currently supply informal settlements currently supply dirty water for lack of proper storage and transport facilities which has lead to the outbreak of waterborne diseases.

In October this year, unlicensed water tankers were barred from operating in Nairobi’s Mukuru Kwa Njenga slum after 11 people died of cholera in two days.

Slum dwellers had complained that the tankers were the possible source of contamination.

The project is being implemented in Kenya by Acumen Fund, a venture capital group that invests in social projects.

Kentainers, a manufacturer of water and sanitation containers and one of the organisations selected to pilot the project, will develop a model for water kiosks that includes water storage, treatment, and container washing stations.

Range of solutions

Maji Na Ufanisi, a non-profit group that builds community toilets and water kiosks in informal settlements will host a design competition to develop water carts and storage vessels appropriate for community-based business models to distribute water, and PureFlow, which distributes household water purification solutions, will develop a scalable business model for delivery of safe drinking water through a business-in-a-box safe water kiosk system.

Umande Trust, a non-profit group that works on sanitation, will create “water choice points,” that allow customers to have options around purchasing and transporting water. Each organisations has received innovation grants to pilot their ideas across Kenya and pro-bono consulting support in technical design and business models.

“The ideas these organisations are piloting represent creative, out-of-the-box approaches to improving water treatment, delivery and storage in the rural areas and informal settlements of Kenya,” said Sangeeta Chowdhry of the Acumen Fund

“Rather than trying to push a single solution, we’re exploring a range of methods to develop products, services, and systems that fit the missions and businesses of the organisations with whom we are partnering,” he added

This pilot is part of a broader project called Ripple Effect, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.