Kisii water vendors cash in as shortage bites

Carts loaded with empty water jerrycan at a water spring at Daraja Moja in Kisii Town on February 22, 2017. The town and its environs are faced with an acute shortage of water. [File, Standard]
Many residents of Kisii Town are spending days and nights in search of water as the dry spell continues.

The most affected areas are Mwembe, Jogoo, Nyanchwa and Daraja Mbili.

Many rivers and springs have dried up. Even worse, water in the few remaining rivers is contaminated.

Water vendors are taking advantage of the situation to make a killing, selling a 20-litre jerrycan for between Sh40 and Sh50.

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Many people in Kisii Town and its environs have to wait the whole day or night in a queue to fetch water from the remaining three springs in the town, whose water levels have also gone down drastically.

Experts say the shortage is mainly as a result of human activity that has interfered with sources of water, including rivers and springs. These activities include deforestation and cultivation along the riparian land.

River Nyakomisaro, a major source of water in the region, is a pale shadow of its former self.

Highly polluted

The river that cuts through the town, Kisii University, Gusii National Polytechnic, several hotels and Daraja Mbili Market, a major marketplace in the region, is highly polluted.

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The water has changed colour due to raw sewage and other waste that has been directed into the waterway over time, putting the lives of the millions who depend on it at risk.

Ms Judith Kwamboka, a resident of Nyanchwa Estate, said she has to queue the whole day, sometimes the whole night, to fill her 10 jerrycans.

“The situation is bad. I can’t imagine going through the same drama for another week. I use over Sh2,000 in a week to buy and transport water. The county government should address this problem as soon as possible,” said Kwamboka.

Patrick Onsomu, a landlord at Jogoo Estate, said many springs had dried up since the onset of the drought. “This is a sign we have interfered with water sources. What used to be a major source of water for nearly half of the population of Kisii Town, Kisii Bottlers Spring, has dried up. Residents have built houses next to streams,” said Onsomu.

Walter Kiyondi, a hotelier, said he spends close to Sh1,500 daily on water.

“We no longer get piped water. It is tough. We are using most of our profits to buy water,” said Kiyondi.

The county government is for now working towards completing a Sh6 billion water project.

The project, expected to be complete in two months, will increase water supply to 27 million litres per day from the current six million.

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Water shortageKisii countyKisii water vendors