Kenya needs Policy to reduce water consumption in households

The water demand in Nairobi is about 760,000 cubic meters per day while the city can only afford to supply 503,000 cubic meters per day. Interestingly, the relevant authorities including Nairobi County have done little to address the water shortage.

The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Limited have been trying to address water shortage through equitable distribution. However, this has not helped address the water shortage since it merely means that the effects are shared among the locals. The Company also embarked on disconnecting water from the car-wash facilities to limit the wastage of water but the effectiveness of the policy is questionable.

The national and Nairobi county government long-term solution to water scarcity has been focused on increasing the supply. For instance, the governments have been working on plans to develop a Northern Collector tunnel that will collect about 140,000 cubic meters of flood water per day from rivers located in upper Murang’a but this has led to a tussle between the counties hence a question on sustainability.

The national government is also in the process of developing Ruiru 2 and Karemenu 2 dams that will supply the city with about 70,000 cubic meters of water daily.

However, there has been little efforts put in place to ensure the water problem is addressed at the demand instead of the supply side of the equation. Sustainability cannot be achieved by addressing water demand, by increasing the water availability, for clean water is a scarce resource. For instance, the 3R’s principle calls for Reduction, Reusing, and Recycling of resources with the goal of avoiding over-exploitation of the same.

The county government should address water scarcity in Nairobi through tailoring a policy that will reduce the water consumption in households thus making the demand to be low than the supply hence sustainability. For instance, the local government can develop a policy directing all landlords to install dual or low flush models in the washrooms. More than 47 percent of the water usage at the household level happens in the bathroom of which 24 percent is in the toilets. Conventional toilets use about 7 gallons of water per flush thus need for a policy that will ensure that the toilets use not more than 1.6 gallons per flush

. This will translate to 70 percent saving of water used during flushing while the indoor water use will be reduced by 30 percent. Alternatively, the government should encourage the landlords to install composting toilets which need no water to operate. Better yet, they will keep pollutants and nutrients out of the waterways and avail them for use on landscapes that support non-food substances.

Isaac Okoth is the CEO and Founder at Institute for Green Development and a freelance consultant on Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Environmental Studies and Community Development from Kenyatta University.

Isaac Okoth is CEO and Founder at Institute for Green Development