Q&A on Nairobi Water Scarcity with NCWSC Managing Director

May 10, 2021

The Managing Director at Nairobi City Water And Sewerage Co. Ltd (NCWSC), Eng Nahason Maingi Muguna, fields questions from the public via Sunday Nation.

Mukuru Kwa Njenga residents have been unable to access clean drinking water for months due to collusion between your officers and cartels. Please help us. Eric Ambuche, Embakasi South

Largely, we have a water deficit since our optimal production per day is 525,600 cubic metres against an estimated demand of 830,000 cubic metres. This has necessitated the rationing of water in the whole city through our equitable distribution programme that ensures optimal supply to all customers.

Special attention is given to informal settlements like Mukuru as we have a fully-fledged department to focus on those areas. Since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the company with support of national government through Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and the Nairobi County government made deliberate intervention of supplying free water to the informal settlements.

We encourage our customers and the public to use our USSD code *888# to authenticate people who say they are NCWSC staff. We also encourage the public to report any malpractices among our officers through our hotline numbers provided on our website.

Has your company neglected its mandate and left residents at the mercy of cartels in the city? Komen Moris, Eldoret

We have water scarcity problems, but the government through the Nairobi Metropolitan Services has stepped up efforts to provide clean water. We have drilled 193 boreholes in all the informal settlements to provide free water. NCWS is responsible for operation, maintenance and management of these boreholes.

Our tariffs, which are regulated by the Water Services Regulatory Board, critically balance issues of proper use of water for environmental conservation purposes and social and equity aspects.

Years back, politicians in Murang’a County attempted to incite residents to cut off Ndakaini Dam water supply to Nairobi County. What do you think can be done to stop such fights? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

The constitution and Water Act 2016 are very clear that water resources, like what is harvested and stored in Thika Dam (Ndakaini), are vested with the national government on behalf of the people of Kenya. The national government is responsible for water apportionment for various uses with the priority being drinking water.

The county governments are mandated with the provision of water and sanitation services. The national government should ensure that residents of areas where water is sourced are also provided with portable water. For example, the government is in the process of improving access to clean water to the level of 70 percent in Murang’a County by the time the Northern Collector Tunnel Water Project for Nairobi City is completed. The national government should focus and encourage inter-county governmental communication in order to avert such challenges.

With a population of nearly four million people in Nairobi County, it follows that demand for water surpasses supply. What measures have you put in place to ensure everyone gets their share? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

Yes, as per the 2019 census report, NCWSC serves 4.4 million residents of Nairobi at night and more during the day, plus 0.3 million people in some pockets of Kiambu County. As I have stated above, Nairobi City has a water deficit of approximately 304,000 cubic metres per day. This has necessitated the rationing of water. All customers are encouraged to use water sparingly. To bridge this deficit, the national government through Athi Water Work Development Agency (AWWDA) is in the process of completing by mid-2021 the Northern Collector Tunnel that will inject 140,000 cubic metres per day of treated water to our network. This will in the long run increase water for various uses in the city.

Please quantify losses as a result of broken pipes and illegal connections? What have you done over time to manage them? Githuku Mungai, Kiambu

The water losses technically known as non-revenue water (NRW) for NCWSC stand at an average of about 38 per cent. This has drastically reduced over time due to increased investment, surveillance of main water lines and rapid response in attending to water leakages.

The company has a fully-fledged department that focuses on NRW and one of the themes in our fifth, 2019/20 – 2023/24 Strategic Plan is on NRW management. We have also been disconnecting illegal connections and ensuring every building is metered besides metering of the water produced and the water entering various parts of the city.

Does the management of NCWSC fear that they may be out of business because most of the buildings and houses that are coming up are now drilling their own boreholes which in the long run could eat into the revenues of NCWSC? Paul Netia

This is more of a public-private sector collaboration in provision of water, especially where infrastructure operated by NCWSC does not reach. Currently, NCWSC has a water coverage of 79 per cent and also we are only able to meet 65 per cent of the city water demand. The borehole water is more expensive than water from NCWSC and most of the time augments our water supply.

What plans do you have for people to get 24-hour supply of water? Paul Netia

Currently, the national government is constructing the Northern Collector Tunnel 1 (NCT1), which will inject 140,000 cubic metres per day into the city water distribution network. The project is funded by the World Bank, AFD and GoK and is expected to be completed by mid-2021. Also, Karimenu dam is under construction and expected to inject 23,000 cubic metres per day into the city water distribution network once completed. Other water sources in the procurement stage meant to increase water supply to the city are Maragua and Ruiru 2 Dam. Ruiru 2 dam will be completed by end of 2023 and it will inject into the distribution network 50,000 cubic metres per day while Maragua dam will be completed by 2026 and inject 180,000 cubic metres per day to the water distribution network.

Once these projects are completed, the city will enjoy 24/7 water supply to the horizon of 2028 when again we expect the Ndarugu dam to have been constructed and to inject 225,000 cubic metres per day into the city water distribution network to take us to 2035.

I would want to request Nairobi Water Company to reconnect clean water to Kamulu Drumvale. There is a big pipe running along Kangundo Road, all the way to Kamulu shops, which had water years ago. Then water stopped flowing and there has been no explanation whatsoever. What happened? JB Murage

The overall goal of the current international development blueprint under the Sustainable Development Goal No. 6 and Kenyan Vision 2030 is universal water coverage by the year 2030. NCWSC plays a critical role for Kenya to achieve this. The long–run target is to have all areas under NCWSC supplied with clean water.

For Kamulu Drumvale, it is at the tail end of our water distribution network and as the population of the city grows, more water is consumed upstream of the network hence reduction of the amount of water reaching those who are in the downstream. We shall rationalise the areas served by the pipeline along Kagundo Road to ensure also our customers in Kamulu-Drumvale are enjoying water supply as before.

Why is Kamburu Drive in Kilimani never included in your equitable water distribution programme? Could this be the reason why we have to keep buying water from the ‘clean water’ bowsers? Mercy Mwendwa

It is difficult to put all roads in Nairobi City County in our equitable water distribution programme as it would be very unfriendly for our customers to read. Kamburu Drive is served under the area between Ngong Road and Kindaruma Road which get water from Thursday noon to Saturday 8 pm as per the current equitable distribution programme.

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