, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 22 – The Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) has partnered with the French Development Agency and the Swedish embassy to construct 20 bio centers in three informal settlements in Nairobi to help 350,000 people get safe water.
The centers which have been constructed in Mukuru, Korokocho and Kibera will serve as water collection points and sanitation blocks for the dwellers.
The director of AWSB Silverse Anami on Friday said the projects would help contain poverty in the slums as they would be managed by self help groups in the respective settlements.
“The bio centers are community projects which will help empower the inhabitants in these places because they will also be used for generating income. People who wish to get good clean water will have to pay some little money. The money obtained from these payments will support the education and general welfare of orphaned children living in this informal settlement,” he explained.
Speaking during the opening of Stara bio center in Kibera, Mr Anami added that the projects would also protect the residents from being exploited by unscrupulous water dealers whose point of water supply is sometimes untrustworthy.
“Over the years residents of informal settlements have had to cope with poor water and sanitation services. It is estimated that 95 percent of the dwellers get their water from suppliers whose source of water is illegal and therefore unsafe. Seventy five percent of the population in informal settlements has no toilet facilities within their homes. These projects will help improve these conditions,” he said.
He further explained that the bio centers would also be used to generate cooking gas for the dwellers in addition to saving water as they used minimal water in the sanitation units.
“The centers are designed to generate methane gas through the bio degradation of human waste. The gas is in turn harnessed for cooking use by the concerned group,” he said.
The Deputy Director of the AFD Nairobi Regional Office Olivier Delefosse said the French agency would also construct 80 additional bio centers in three cities adding that the Nairobi projects would cost sh6.4 billion.
“We will work in urban areas to improve the entire water and sanitation system from production of water in dams to transmission lines and distribution including informal settlements. The other ablution blocks whose construction we intend to fund are in Kisumu, Nairobi and Mombasa. The ones in Nairobi will cost us around €60 million,” Mr Delefosse said.
Lawi Obiya who is a representative of the Umande Trust which was charged with the management of the Stara bio center said the project would help residents in other areas of Kibera to get cheap cooking gas and uplift their living conditions.
“We will tap this gas and supply it to everyone who needs it. Our children will not have to go out and buy firewood any more. It is really going to help us,” he said.
Mr Anami lauded the French agency for their support and called on other development partners to take part in such initiatives.
“They have helped us with a grant of Sh3 billion which we are using to develop the dams that will bring water to these areas and they have also approved an additional grant of Sh3.2 billion. We are happy that other development agencies are coming in. We need to work together because there is what the civil society can do with communities that government cannot do. The success of any project depends on such partnerships,” he said.