By Grace Maina/Statement
Close to 100,000 residents of the sprawling Kibera informal settlement are now set to enjoy access to clean water following the commissioning of an innovative potable water distribution system.
The overhead distribution system is designed by Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), a local development organization and funded to the tune of Kshs 12 million by Safaricom Foundation.
The system has been designed akin to the electricity distribution system using overhead pipes supported by wooden poles, terminating at various water kiosks in Kibera. Effectively, the new system will cut the price of a 20-litre water jerry can by 60% from Shs 5 to Shs 2.
The design provides a rapid deployment option as it does not involve trench digging and underground pipe laying.
Speaking at a commissioning ceremony for the project, billed as Africa’s first; SHOFCO Executive Director, Kennedy Odede announced that the initiative is part of a joint programme by SHOFCO and Safaricom Foundation among other donors to enhance the distribution of clean and affordable water in Kibera.
The partnership aims to scale up the provision of clean and accessible water to 84,000 people in the informal settlement of Kibera, most of whom have been forced to rely on exploitative water vendors for their daily water needs.
The idea of an overhead water piping system, Odede said, was conceptualized as a way around the complicated and costly logistical hurdle of distributing water across an informal settlement.
Safaricom Foundation will join hands to scale the landmark project – pioneered by SHOFCO and the Pentair Foundation –to build an additional 10 water kiosks.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore announced the Sh12 million boost when commissioned the project in the company of Safaricom Foundation chairman Joe Ogutu and Shofco founders Jessica Possner and Kennedy Odede in Kibera.
Mr. Collymore appealed for more support from Kenyan companies since the project has traditionally drawn much of its support from foreign organisations and individuals.
“We can’t just leave the support of this initiative to foreigners. We have to step in and provide some homegrown support. We urge other local organisations to join SHOFCO and us in this initiative. The provision of clean and safe water will enable us to make an intentional intervention to make a difference in Kenyan’s lives. This partnership will enable SHOFCO and Safaricom to leverage their respective strengths to truly Transform Lives,” said Mr Collymore.
Mr Odede said that the project is a bold answer to one of the most pressing needs in Kibera.
“The collaborative efforts between communities and the private sector provide a transformative opportunity to address key societal challenges. We are grateful to The Safaricom Foundation for partnering with SHOFCO as positive change agents in Kibera,” said Mr Odede.
In 2012, SHOFCO kicked off the clean water initiative with a 100,000-liter water tower – the largest clean water access point in Kibera – built by Newman’s Own Foundation and serving 4,200 individuals.
The new overhead system, designed and supported through a partnership with the Pentair Foundation will serve 42,000 individuals, and Safaricom Foundation will double this impact to reach 84,000, leveraging and scaling the success thus far to new heights. This unique water system is the first of its kind in an urban slum. The low-cost practice of the infrastructure will supply the community with water that is 60 percent lower than the private vendors.
“Safaricom will also provide free data to SHOFCO’s satellite centers in Kibera and Mathare, enabling library users and the youth in the areas to access the internet,” says Collymore.
“We shall also make available highly subsidized internet at SHOFCO’s main site to enable fast connectivity to SHOFCO’s electronic medical record system, allowing the team to leverage trans-formative data to continually assess the impact of their medical projects” added Mr Collymore.