NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – The ‘Water is Life’ catchphrase has been meaningful to over the 56 percent of Kenyans who have reliable access to water and the 70 percent of Kenyans who have access to sanitation.
The rest, especially those from informal settlements in the country, have probably never seen the truth in the quote.
The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage is however hoping to change that with the introduction of the AQtap water dispenser.
Popularly known as the ‘water ATM’, the Grundfos Holdings water dispenser is set to solve water problems in informal settlements in the country such as Mathare where the pilot project is taking place.
According to Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Managing Director Engineer Philip Gichuki, the dispenser will address challenges experienced in providing a reliable and sustainable water supply in informal settlements.
“The AQtap water dispenser will foster water conservation, while at the same time help people in informal settlements access water with ease. Additionally, the use of a smartcard will ensure that the issue of water cartels is handled,” Engineer Gichuki said during the ongoing KICC during the 18th Africa Water Association Congress and Exhibition.
Four machines have been installed in Mathare with more expected around the country.
The machine costs Sh300,000 excluding installation fee.
How the card works
Water customers will simply need to go to a Nairobi City Water and Sewerage vendor and buy a card at Sh50. The amount will be loaded onto the card which the user will tap to access water from the dispenser.
The amount loaded onto the card is equivalent to 100 jerrycans of water.
“The dispenser is open for use 24/7. A customer only needs to carry their card, just like they do at ATMs,” Gichuki adds.
The use of smartcards has also been of benefit.
According to Gichuki, customers are proud of using the card as they find it easy to manage and keep with some finding its use prestigious.
The Mathare project is however not the only in the country.
Grundfos Holdings said that they had distributed a couple to Non-Governmental Organizations for their humanitarian use.
“This water ATM technology is not new, it is just the models that have been improved to suit the changing needs of consumers while taking advantage of the available technology,” said a Grundfos Holdings representative.
He added outside Kenya, the water dispenser has in the past been distributed to Uganda, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali among other countries.