Residents Demand Water

Residents of Mukuru kwa Njenga are demanding for the regularization of illegal water connections in the area by providing meters for these water lines. This way, they argue, the water company shall reduce on Non-revenue water and the residents shall be guaranteed the Right to Water. This came up during a water stakeholders meeting that was organized by the Water Action Group in the area. But speaking in the same venue, the water company officials stated that this would not be possible since the residents do not have documentation proving land ownership in the area.

“To get a water meter,  someone is expected to provide some proof of land ownership. This is not possible for these residents since they are primarily squatters on this piece of land,” a water company official states.

In attendance were the community water teams and the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company. The community members highlighted the high cost of water and an unreliable supply by the utility. “The water is quite expensive and does not come regularly. This has opened the way for water cartels to control the sector in this settlement,” Agnes Ogutu, a resident of the area states. “Water is a basic human right and there is no need for us to fight over it. As Kenyans, nobody should deny us this right,” she adds. Some of the issues that arose during the forum included the question of corruption. Residents accused the water company of abetting criminal activities by the water cartels. They cited complacency by company officials and vandalism of water lines often goes unpunished.

In response, officials from the Water Company blamed insecurity on the re-emergence of water cartels. “It has been quite difficult for us to work within this area; In fact, one of our staff members was recently assaulted when he went to repair a defective main water line,” a Water Company official states. The Company also cites the recent dry spell, which has affected supply of water to Nairobi. “We have not received good rainfall for a while now and this has greatly hindered our ability to supply water,” he adds. Other challenges that the water company experiences include poor water service delivery infrastructure in the region, with some of it dating back to the colonial days. The infrastructure experiences significant strain owing to population growth.

To address the water situation in Mukuru, the water company suggests that discussions with the National Land Commission should be explored for purposes of tenure regularization. This way, the residents would be able to access metered connections on the strength of the ownership documents. It was also suggested that the Water Company should maintain an office in the area, to allow for faster resolution of complaints and supply disruption. The Water Company also encouraged the residents to make use of MajiVoice, a mobile platform for registering complaints.