by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The dusty alleys leading to Korogocho slums
located in the eastern edges of the Kenyan capital Nairobi were
a beehive of activity on Thursday afternoon as water vendors
rushed the commodity to residents.
Known for their
agility and stamina, the water vendors defied the scorching
afternoon sun to deliver a commodity whose demand has surged in
the densely populated slum.
Many households in Korogocho and its adjoining low-income
suburbs are now struggling with dry taps occasioned by a water
rationing program starting on the first day of this year.
The Nairobi water utility said the rationing program would
extend until the onset of long rains season in April due to
shrinking water levels in main reservoirs amid the lingering
Residents of the city’s slums who eke a living through casual
labor and small businesses were among the hardest hit by the
water shortage as they are forced to buy water from cartels at
Joab Mutuku, a vegetable vendor who live in a shack with his
wife and three sons, said purchasing water from vendors has
depleted his savings and would undermine his goal of expanding
"Sourcing water from vendors has been financially draining at
a time I am expected to pay school fees for my children.
"Though we are used to water scarcity, the current situation
is dire," Mutuku told Xinhua.
The middle-aged man has a stall in the open-air market in
Korogocho slums, where on a good day he earns 15 dollars, but
purchasing the commodity from vendors consumed a quarter of his
"My family is big and am forced to spend about 3 dollars on
water since the rationing began.
"We require more than ten jerry cans daily to meet domestic
needs like cooking, washing clothes and flushing the toilet,"
He warned of a looming health crises due to severe water
scarcity in a slum village infamous for crime, congestion and
"The ongoing water rationing should serve as a wakeup call to
my neighbors who neglect hygiene.
"We are likely to experience a spike in water-borne diseases
unless we invest in deterrent measures," Mutuku said.
The expansive Korogocho slums are home to an estimated
In recent years, the national and county governments have
pumped massive resources to upgrade critical infrastructure like
roads, water and power supply in the informal settlement.
However, poor planning coupled with breakdown of law and
order has constrained efforts to connect residents of Korogocho
slums with piped water.
Those who spoke to Xinhua said the ongoing water rationing
was a harbinger of worsened financial difficulties ahead.
Mary Akoth, a mother of three and a housewife, worried that
water rationing would disrupt her daily schedules while eroding
her meager savings.
"Since the water rationing began last Sunday, I have been
forced to wake up at dawn to look for the commodity in a nearby
kiosk where it is sold at exorbitant prices by illegal groups,"
She revealed that vendors and cartels that control the water
kiosks in Korogocho slums have conspired to hike the cost of the
commodity as rationing intensifies.
Akoth spends 2 U.S. dollars every day to obtain water from
vendors and informal kiosks.
Her biggest worry is the compromised quality of water sourced
from informal vendors.
"My neighbor complained of a stomach infection the other day
after drinking water bought from vendors.
"Her children too suffered from a bout of diarrhoea but am
more careful now to prevent an infection," Akoth told Xinhua.
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