Urgent Call to Restore Water Supply in Nairobi to Effectively Fight COVID-19



Urgent call to restore water supply in Nairobi to effectively fight COVID-19

Nairobi, Kenya-14th May 2020: Following a statement by the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company Limited (NCWSC) on 8th May 2020, informing Nairobi City County residents of a shutdown of Sasumua Dam Treatment which supply’s 11.6% of water to the City, we are concerned that the remedial measures announced by NCWSC in response to the COVID 19 outbreak have not been effective in addressing the current water shortage in the city.

Water is a basic right and protected under the Constitution under article 43(1)(d) “Every person has the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities”

We are concerned THAT: –

      1. Nairobi residents continue to suffer from unavailability of water. A survey conducted in 15 counties between 15th April to 8th May 2020 by The Institute For Social Accountability in partnership with Kenya Tuitakayo Movement and Social Justice Centre Working Group, shows availability of water in several parts of Nairobi has worsened (see annexed list)
      2. The costs for supply of water by tankers as advertised on your Service Charter of Kshs. 2,500 per tanker of 8,000 litres delivered within Nairobi are prohibitive and not affordable to majority of the residents in the City.
      3. The price of piped water which ranges between 34-53 Kenyan Shillings (USD 0.34-0.53) per cubic metre (1000 litres), compared to 10-50 Kenyan Shillings for a 20 litre jerrycan in some estates and informal settlements in Nairobi continues to exacerbate the inequalities in access to affordable water.
      4. No communication has been done regarding any subsidisation of costs or waivers as the case maybe in view of the current challenging situation brought about by the COVID-19
      5. The price difference between NCWSC prices and private prices remains a loophole through which Nairobi residents are exploited by water cartels.
      6. We also note with much concern that the perennial lack of water for Nairobi residents has not only always been as a result of natural calamities, but also corruption due to collision between NCWSC officers and cartels for diversion of water supplied to estates to benefit private businesses of water supply that have conveniently mushroomed in the City.
      7. Lack of water is a ticking time bomb – Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Government has issued directives through the Ministry of Health urging citizens to observe hygiene, frequent hand-washing with clean running water, and practice physical distancing. It is evidently impossible to observe these directives with limited access to water making sanitation and physical distancing nearly impossible as residents flock to water supply points or do without water all together as a result of the high costs, leaving communities vulnerable to widespread infection of the COVID-19.

We remind the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Management of its duty to support the government efforts against COVID-19 by ensuring all households have adequate water supply through a reasonable and transparent water supply schedule.

In view of the concerns highlighted herein, we therefore call upon:

      1. County Department Public Works, Utilities and Ancillary services, including Water and Sanitation Services to issue a comprehensive statement providing detailed information on the current status of supply of water in Nairobi City County.
      2. The County Department Public Works, Utilities and Ancillary services, including Water and Sanitation Services and the county assembly to with immediate effect facilitate Government directives on moratorium of disconnection from water supply and access to clean water for hand-washing and maintaining high levels of hygiene.
      3. The NCWSC to provide detailed information on the distribution, frequency and costs of supplying water to Nairobi City residents with up-to-date and daily updates of any interruptions expected and remedial measures taken to address the interruptions.
      4. Immediately institute Water Accountability Groups and the toll-free complaint line and regular performance reporting.
      5. Immediately institute measures to reign in water cartels and discipline non-performing and corrupt officers.



Transparency International Kenya

The Institute For Social Accountability

Kenya Tuitakayo

Consumer Grassroots Association

Katiba Institute