NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s unending water
crisis has spurred big business in the East African nation amid
the biting effects of climate change.
The East African
nation’s residents have over the years been grappling with water
shortage, which has worsened as time goes by and population in
From the capital Nairobi to the coastal city of Mombasa and
the lakeside town of Kisumu, water remains a scarce commodity.
Prices have risen to an average of 0.50 U.S. dollars per 20
This has led to a rising number of people engaging in the
In the capital Nairobi and the suburbs surrounding it,
small-scale traders buy in 20-liter containers and resell to
residents depending on demand and supply.
On the other hand, large-scale sellers operate at two levels.
Some have several water bowsers which they use to source
water and sell to residents in 5,000 liters quantities.
On the other hand, the other water sellers have sunk
boreholes and supply water to homes, getting payment every
In Kitengela, a residential area on the outskirts of Nairobi,
Moses Njeru is one of the water suppliers. Njeru has sunk a
borehole from which he draws water and suppliers to dozens of
"I have so far connected 45 homes which pay me at the end of
"I sell a unit at 1.3 dollars," he told Xinhua in a recent
"The homes pay their bills at the end of every month.
Njeru, as many other water suppliers, charges 150 dollars
deposit and 25 dollars connection fee to enlist the customers.
However, some suppliers charge as high as 500 dollars.
"It is big business," he acknowledged.
"But competition has increased because more people have sunk
boreholes around here.
"Initially we were two, now we are six and some are charging
110 per unit," he said.
It costs at least 10,000 dollars to sink a borehole,
according to Njeru, but one scoops his investment in about three
The suburb has over 100 water bowsers which buy the water
from suppliers like Njeru and sell to residents at 25 dollars
for 5,000 litres.
However, fresh water sold by water agencies that include
Nairobi City County and Export Processing Zone to traders, who
in turn supply residents in the capital and surrounding areas is
the most expensive.
Nairobi residents are buying 5,000 litres of the commodity
for up to 70 dollars, from half the price over a year ago.
"Sometimes I sell a 20-litre jerrican at 0.80 dollars.
"It depends with the demand," said Benson Nyamori, a water
vendor in Komarock on the east of Nairobi.
The last two years have been good for Nyamori and other small
This is because of a biting dry weather that disrupted water
supply, forcing city water authorities to tighten rationing thus
handing vendors like Nyamori business.
Data from Athi Water Services Board, which manages water
resources in various urban areas, notes that 75 per cent of
Nairobi residents do not get regular supply of piped water.
The city requires over 500,000 cubic meters of water daily,
yet about half is supplied.
But it’s not all rosy for some borehole water suppliers
across the country as some of the facilities have dried up,
evaporating with hundreds of dollars worth of investment.
"With the current erratic weather caused by adverse effects
of climate change and our poor water harvesting culture during
rainy season, I don’t foresee the current crisis ending soon,"
said Henry Wandera, an economics lecture in Nairobi.
According to him, Kenya has failed to manage its water
economics leaving citizens in the hands of private players.
"It is one thing that private businesses are supplying water
but on the other hand the commodity is too costly especially for
low income earners." he said.
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