A deep data dive reveals extent of unequal water provision in Nairobi

Many African cities wrestle to provide secure, potable water to their residents. One of the principle causes for that is urbanisation; cities’ populations develop quickly as extra individuals transfer to them from rural areas.

Another cause, in some areas, is water scarcity.

Researchers have lengthy suspected that casual city neighbourhoods are lagging behind their formal counterparts on the subject of accessing secure consuming water. But this actuality could be obscured when data is aggregated to metropolis scale quite than being examined at a granular, localised degree.

Numerous research have been carried out to look at inequalities in secure water entry. Most measure this access by way of supply sort, corresponding to entry to faucet water. Some have integrated different dimensions of water service supply, notably water quality. However, comparatively few research have examined intra-urban variations in the volumes of water consumed.

In our study in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, we examined patterns of home piped water distribution between 1985 and 2018. We used data from Nairobi’s water and sewerage utility utilizing small areas they name “itineraries”. These have a mean inhabitants of 700. We additionally examined granular inhabitants data from the WorldPop mapping initiative and we drew on spatial data in regards to the age of completely different neighbourhoods for the years between 1975 and 2014 from the Global Human Settlement project.

This data allowed us to look at variations between neighbourhoods in enough home water consumption, price, and water entry. Crucially, we may study adjustments over time. The data revealed that newly developed low-income city neighbourhoods – house to as much as a third of Nairobi’s inhabitants – will not be as effectively serviced as older, wealthier and fewer densely populated areas.

Our hope is that these findings might affect governance and coverage in the water sector. Water provide have to be dependable, secure and reasonably priced to everybody who lives in Nairobi.

Key findings

The data confirmed that water sufficiency in Nairobi differs in accordance with a number of components. These embrace the age of a neighbourhood, revenue degree, sort of water entry and the dimensions of the inhabitants per itinerary.

The World Health Organisation recommends at the least 1500 litres of water per particular person per thirty days for home use. We discovered that residents in high- and middle- revenue areas have been six and 4 instances extra more likely to obtain 1500 litres. Less densely populated areas have been extra more likely to obtain larger volumes of water.

The method in which individuals entry water differs in accordance with revenue, too. People in high- and middle- revenue areas are inclined to have piped connections in their houses. Those in center to low and low-income areas have been extra typically getting water from communal faucets or water kiosks (water distributors who promote water bought from the utility company).

We additionally discovered that a fantastic deal of water – a mean of 3.5 billion litres per thirty days – is being wasted both by way of burst pipes, theft or irregular meters. This is greater than twice the quantity of water wanted for each one of the town’s residents, throughout all areas, to entry the beneficial 1500 litres a month.

Tackling the issue

There are 3 ways to handle the spatial inequality of water entry in Nairobi: good data to plan water companies and tariffs, investing in infrastructure, and governance.

Data on water provide and consumption is essential in assessing the gaps in the water distribution course of. It can even assist to make sure higher administration of typically scarce or restricted water provides. Historically, authorities data has been poorly saved.

However, there have been optimistic enhancements in this regard as governments more and more be certain that their data is accessible, electronically saved, full and constant. This permits analysis and future planning. Kenya has digitised the water consumption data and made the water tariff structure publicly obtainable.

Improving water sufficiency will even require the correct investments from the federal government. Growth in metropolis inhabitants must be accompanied by investments in infrastructure to help provision of secure water to the inhabitants – together with correct funding of water utility firms to reinforce their efficiency. Investments must be organised primarily based on residential class and neighbourhood age, with a concentrate on the teams the data reveals will not be being effectively serviced.

Finally, good governance is required to minimise each water losses and social inequalities. There must be a deliberate prioritisation of water provide and infrastructure improvement in low-income areas, each in newer and older neighbourhoods, and in densely populated areas. This is essential if Kenya is to attain the water entry targets outlined in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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