Kibera residents protest water shortage

September 22, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 22 – A week after families living in Soweto East Village of the expansive Kibera slum were moved to the modernised housing units, they still have no water.

Residents are now complaining that this has highly compromised on basic sanitation. They told Capital News that a water bowser supplied the commodity on Saturday but it was unfit for consumption.

“We have a lot of problems with water and we are getting more frustrated because of the toilets. (Now) we are depending on water from the slum,” Said Evelyn Anyango, a resident in the new housing units.

Evelyn has taken two rooms in the self-contained house which means she is sharing with one other person who takes the other room. This makes it difficult to maintain cleanliness when there is no water.

She says she has three children and has taken the two bedrooms while the sitting room is occupied by a male.

“So far we are living well and have not quarreled over anything because he leaves in the morning and comes back late at night,” she says.

“I am the one doing all the cleaning because if you are living with a man even if it is a neighbour, as a woman you will be compelled to clean,” she adds.

Elizabeth, another resident and a mother of five says: “From the time we came here there has been no water and cleanliness like in the toilet is compromised.”

Bishop Raphael Handa the chairperson of the resettlement Committee explained that the lack of water was due to a burst pipe while that of electricity was because of delayed connection.

“They (Kenya Power and Lighting Company) have confirmed to us that by tomorrow (Wednesday) they will have fixed everything.”

The relocation of the slum dwellers which began a week ago seems slow with only 40 units occupied. This is out of the 600 housing units that are supposed to be taken up.

However Bishop Handa told Capital News that the process was on course and may take another two weeks to complete because of the verification process.

“What we do first is to verify the people that we do relocate because we don’t want to make a mistake of taking people who are not supposed to move in this first phase,” he said.

“Last week we moved 100 people, we have already identified those to be moved next and may be on Thursday or Friday we can start the exercise again,” he added.

Bishop Handa said every week they would move 300 people depending on the availability of transport.

“We are using the National Youth Service vehicles and sometimes they are committed elsewhere so we have to do it very carefully. We believe that in two weeks we will be through because the contractor wants to come on board,” he said.

The relocation will pave way for the construction of other units in the area the shanties occupied.

Residents who have already relocated to the new housing units say this has affected negatively their small businesses.

“The demand is down because there are few people but when all the houses are occupied and they give us kiosks to operate from then it will be okey,” Said Paul Omondi

“The business has been down because the customers are still few and you find you make a profit of Sh100 per day which is not enough to buy basic needs,” added Elizabeth another trader.


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