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Residents to quench their thirst with more water projects

Nakuru residents are set to benefit from a multi-million collaboration between the County Government and Vitens Evides International (VEI) aimed at improving water supply infrastructure within the devolved unit.

Governor Susan Kihika said the partnership entailed supporting Water Service Providers (WSPs) operated by the County Government to improve their operations which will in turn make them financially healthy and thus enable them to extend their services to the urban poor.

Ms. Kihika revealed that among the projects she had lined up to alleviate water shortage in Nakuru are the last mile water pipe connectivity to rural households from Itare Dam once its construction resumes and the expansion of Turasha Dam in Gilgil to bolster water supply to Gilgil Constituency and Nakuru Town.

She spoke when she led a Kenyan Delegation to a meeting with a team from Vitens Evides International (VEI) headed by its Chief Executive Officer Toine Ramaker to discuss and cement the collaboration and partnership between the Dutch Water Utilities and Nakuru County Government Water Utilities.

Founded in 2005, Vitens Evides International is a leading water provider in the Netherlands and also works in twenty countries including Kenya.

“Even as we work on getting the construction of the Itare Dam back on track, it’s important to plan forward and mobilize resources for the last mile. Our discussion also centered on the support for the priority area of climate resilience program to support the livelihoods of Nakuru residents affected by flooding especially by Lake Nakuru in addition to other areas,” she added.

Governor Kihika revealed that Vitens Evides International is already working with the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Ltd (Nawassco), Nakuru Rural Water and Sanitation Company Limited (Naruwasco) and Naivasha Water, Sewerage and Sanitation Company Ltd (Naivawasco) to improve water services across the county.

The partnership will see each of the water providers in Nakuru County get at least Sh450 million to improve and revitalize service delivery.

Governor Kihika further said that her administration is committed to ensuring that residents have adequate water supply in rural and urban areas including Nakuru town, which was elevated to city status last year.

“We will continue initiating water projects in various places across the county. We want Nakuru residents to get adequate water supply all the time,” said Kihika.

She pledged that her administration would also ensure proper maintenance of the sewerage systems as well as embrace modern technology in the provision of the services.

“We are optimistic that this partnership will radically change the lives of our people. The county government is committed to providing adequate resources to improve water piping, especially in the rural areas,” she said and at the same time pledged to work with the County Assembly in formulating policies for the water sector that are geared towards improving governance in the management of water in the county.

“Now that water is a devolved function, I will liaise with the County Assembly to formulate better policies that will guide the water sector,” said the Governor.

The county however falls short of adequate daily water supply with the demand estimated at 70,000 cubic metres per day.

Data from Nakuru Urban Water and Sanitation Company indicates that the current supply stands at 40,000 cubic metres and with the town’s status already elevated, partnerships among utilities and other government agencies are crucial to avoid rampant rationing.

Vitens Evides International is also providing technical assistance to Nawassco, Naruwasco and Naivawasco to reduce non-revenue water from an average of 54 percent to 20 percent.

A Non-Revenue Water (NRW) audit revealed that Nawassco, Naruwasco and Naivawasco lose more than half of their treated drinking water to leaks, theft, and meter inaccuracies, resulting in monthly losses of over Shs40 million and scarcity of the commodity.

NRW refers to water lost through illegal connections, inefficient or rundown supply infrastructure, and malfunctioning meters. Water Services and Regulatory Board (WASREB) defines levels of NRW of under 2 percent as good, 20-25 as acceptable, and over 2 percent as not acceptable.

Records from Naruwasco indicate that though the company produces 23,000 litres of treated water per day, less than 11,000 litres could be accounted for.

“Of the 54.6 percent water lost by Naruwasco Company, 18.6 percent is lost through metering inaccuracies and theft while 35.9 percent is physical losses through leaks. Reducing water losses is a priority for the water sector in Kenya,” adds the report.

All water service providers in the country have issues with ageing water infrastructure, which is partly to blame for NRW. Others mostly bill at a flat rate due to shortage of water meters.

The situation WSPs in Nakuru County are experiencing comes against the background of a research by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that Kenya loses treated water worth Sh12.2 billion through Non-Revenue 430,000 cubic metres (430 million litres) of water every year. Records from NAIVAWASS reveal that at the baseline, NRW stands at 45 percent.

Currently, illegal connections are still a challenge and one of the main contributors to NRW in Naivasha. Some areas still have asbestos and cement pipes, which should be replaced with modern pipes to reduce leakages. The company is also coming up with a mechanism to address prevalent underground leakages,” details the report.

At NAWASSCO with over 40,900 metered connections, Non-Revenue Water was reported to be as high as 50 percent.

The findings at NAWASSCO were corroborated by a separate study funded by the United States International Aid Agency (USAID) and conducted by the Department of Environmental and Bio-Systems Engineering, at the University of Nairobi indicating that the company had the highest incidence of malfunctioning water meters, inaccurate meter readings and frequent outages.

“Though NAWASSCO had an impressive coverage of 79 percent in low-income areas, NRW in these areas oscillated between 45 to 49.9 percent. Vandalism of the distribution network and illegal connections were major challenges to the water service provider” states the report.

By Anne Mwale

 

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