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Nairobi faces prospects of sustained water rationing
March 11, 2018, 4:52 pm

As Zero Day for Cape Town’s water supply to run dry approaches, another African capital is facing a prolonged period of water scarcity. Kenyan capital Nairobi’s Water and Sewerage Company announced last week that residents of the city will have to continue grappling with water rationing until at least 2026, when more dams are expected to be completed.

Revealing that water storage at the Thika dam near Ndakaini that supplies the capital had fallen by 49 percent to 34 million cubic meters, water utility authorities said, "Water rationing is set to continue until that time when the dams we are currently building are complete, which according to the master plan of water sources development in the city will be done by 2026 thereafter we shall be having enough water and surplus to take us up to 2035."

The dam at Ndakaini, which has a maximum storage capacity for 70 million cubic meters of water, produces 430,000 cubic meters a day, or roughly 84 percent of water supplied to the Nairobi residents. The current situation has compelled authorities to enforce water rationing through the equitable distribution program so as to ensure every city resident gets a fair share of water.

The water utility company said that it was supplying the city with 525,000 cubic meters of water a day against a demand of 760,000 cubic meters a day, but that they were working with the national government to come up with measures to ensure that the county gets sufficient water through both short-and long-term mechanisms.

The authorities blamed the water problems being experienced on prolonged drought, degradation of catchment, and global warming which has contributed to erratic weather patterns and inadequate rains. They added that on a short-term basis, the county was banking on the Northern Water collector tunnel project, set to be completed by 2020, that would boost the county with an additional 140,000 cubic meters.

On another note, the row over sharing oil revenues is threatening to delay Kenyan’s oil production plans. Residents of Turkana, the Kenyan region where oil was discovered in 2012, say they expect at least a third of oil revenues to be pumped into development of their county, but the central government has other plans.

The current Parliament passed a draft bill in 2016 allocating 10 percent of any state oil revenue to the local communities where it was discovered, 20 percent to local government and 70 percent for the central government in Nairobi. A revised version due to be debated in parliament this month leaves local communities with only 5 percent.

Turkana, Kenya’s second largest county geographically, has long accused successive central governments of neglecting the territory. The local communities consider the new 5 percent provisions to be another slap in the face of Turkana, a barren land, where most of the inhabitants live in villages without electricity and running water.

Turkana MP, James Lomenen from the ruling Jubillee Party plans to draft an amendment to the bill on Oil Exploration, Development and Production. The legislation must be passed before large-scale oil production can begin. Meanwhile, the revenue sharing dispute has hampered the tight schedule of oil companies, eagerly waiting on the sidelines to gain the go signal.

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