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MAJIDATA: The Kenyan Online Water & Sanitation DAtabase on Urban Low Income Areas

MajiData provides the Water Sector with the information required to measure impact and progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the targets set by our Vision 2030.

The WSTF also expects the residents of the urban areas to use MajiData. By comparing their area with other low income areas they will be in a position to motivate their providers to improve service levels or prepare project proposals.

Many sector stakeholders have contributed to the preparation of MajiData; the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, all eight (8) Water Services Boards and the Water Service Providers. MajiData also could count on the enthusiastic support given by the Provincial Administration, the Local Authorities, the local Public Health Departments, elders and ordinary residents.

Who Commissioned and Supported MajiData?

MajiData is an initiative of the Kenyan Water Sector. The mandate to prepare MajiData was given to the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) by its parent ministry, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI).

MajiData would not have been implemented and completed without the active technical support provided by GIZ, UN-Habitat, Google.org, ITC Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (University of Twente) and Upande (all part of the H2.0 initiative;  http://www.h20initiative.org/).

MajiData was funded by UN-Habitat, the German Development Bank (KfW), Google.org, GIZ (German International Cooperation) and the WSTF.

MajiData received technical advice and support from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development.

History of MajiData

During the 2007 Annual Water Sector Conference (held in November), the need to carry out a pro-poor mapping exercise in order to collect data on the urban low-income areas was identified as being one of the priority water sector undertakings for 2008.

Soon after the conference the Ministry of Water and Irrigation requested the WSTF to develop a pro-poor urban database covering all urban low income areas in Kenya.

In October 2008 the data collection tools and other measures to prepare for a country-wide data collection exercise were finalised.

The key objectives of MajiData (see next section) and the specific data needs as expressed by the various sector stakeholders during the “stakeholder assessment” guided the development of the overall approach as well as of the data collection methods, techniques and tools.

The creation of the initial MajiData team and the testing of the data collection tools were completed in December 2008.

Early 2009, MajiData became part of the H2.0 initiative which was initiated and supported by UN-Habitat and Google.org (for more information, visit the H2.0 website:  http://www.h20initiative.org/.). H2.0 aims to empower stakeholders and residents; particularly by making relevant data accessible to all.

The data collection exercise started in February 2009. The final data sets were collected in April 2011.

Need for Data on Urban Low Income Areas

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the WSTF and the organisations that supported MajiData believe that a pro-poor urban database is necessary:

  To inform and empower the residents of underserved low income areas. Having access to detailed data on their area and being able to compare their area with other low income areas can assist residents to approach their service provider and demand for improved services.

  In order to enable the Water Service Providers (WSPs) to prepare realistic water supply and sanitation (WSS) project proposals for specific low income areas.

  To allow the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) to evaluate and prioritize pro-poor project proposals according to a set of criteria (number of people served, per capita investment cost, current water supply situation, etc.)

  To evaluate a specific WSTF-funded project and to assess if the project offers value for money.

  To enable the Kenyan Water  Sector to assess the currentWSS situation and the impact of the WSTF- funded and other projects and their contribution to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the objectives specified in the Vision 2030 document. 

  To inform the authorities at national, provincial, county and local level as well as members of parliament on the water supply and sanitation needs that exist within their area. 

Anticipated Users of MajiData

The MajiData Database has been designed to serve the data needs and requirements of the following WSS Sector stakeholders:

  The residents of the urban low income areas

  The Ministry of Water and Irrigation

  The Water Services Trust Fund

  The Water Services Boards

  The Water Service Providers

  The Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB)

  The Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation

  Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in the water sector

  Development partners that are supporting the sector.

In addition to these sector stakeholders, MajiData will be of interest to:

  The authorities at national, provincial, county and local level as well as members of parliament

  The Ministry of Culture and Social Services

  Anyone who needs information onsuch issues as urban water supply and sanitation, urban development and urban slums.


Focus of MajiData: All Urban Low Income Areas

MajiData has; (1) a low income area focus and (2) a water sector focus. The MajiData online database contains information on:

   Water supply (sources & outlets used,existing infrastructure, coverage, etc.)

   Sanitation (existing infrastructure and sanitation practices, coverage, etc.)

   Population (number of residents and population density)

   Landownership and land use

   Area layout (roads and drains)

   Habitation patterns and housing (materials used for walling and roofing)

   Solid waste (disposal)

   Socio-economic infrastructure

   Quality of life

Just a Few Key Figures

All the data collected by the MajiData team can be accessed through the website.  In this article the WSTF only wants to provide a few key figures on population, water supply and sanitation.

Population and Housing

The MajiData team collected data in 212 cities and towns of Kenya.

According to MajiData approximately 7.8 million Kenyan reside in a total of 1,882 urban low income areas. This, if we use the latest Census data of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, amounts to 20.4% of the total population.

655 areas can be categorised as planned urban low income areas whereas 1,106 can be labelled as unplanned areas or settlements (The MajiData website contains an extensive list of definitions).

Approximately 4.2 million live in unplanned settlements (urban slums).

The average population density is 47,360 persons per km2 and ranges between 1,064,508 persons per km2 (102,064 in Nairobi) and 400 persons per km2.

In the unplanned areas 26.8 of all households own their dwellings (16.9% of all households in planned low income areas). This means that many household live in rented accommodation.

Current Water Supply Situation

1,470 low income urban areas (78.1% of all 1,882 areas) are connected to the distribution network of a (licensed) Water Service Provider.  Approximately 66.56% of all residents of urban low income areas use piped water. However, if we consider accessibility we have to conclude that only 38.6% of the population of urban low income areas have adequate access to safe water (the website contains the definition of adequate access).

Informal service providers (ISPs) still play an important role in the provision of water and sanitation services. Water sellers and resellers are active in 61.6% of all urban informal settlements. 

Current Sanitation Situation

When considering the national level one has to conclude that in Kenya, like in other African countries, sanitation is lagging far behind water supply in terms of concept development, implementation and up-scaling. According to the 2009 Census a large majority of these urban residents do not have access to adequate sanitation.  In some informal settlements with very high population densities the space to build good toilets is simply lacking forcing residents to resort to using “flying toilets”. 1 MajiData shows that indeed only 8.1% of the households in the low income urban areas have a toilet facility. (27.8% of all households are sharing a toilet facility with other households.

Although many urban plots do have sufficient space for toilets, the sanitation situation in the urban low income areas can only be described as very poor. Many landlords seem to lack the financial resources to invest in good sanitation or are unaware of the existence of affordable improved sanitation technologies.

Exploring the Website

When you visit the MajiData website you will find a “Help” button which will assist you in your search. Data can be viewed at the following data presentation levels:

   Area level

   City or town level

   County level

   Water Service Provider level

   Administrative area level (Province, Districts…)

   Slum level

   National level

At area level, the user sees a layer which is placed on a high resolution satellite image containing information on the area such as the area boundary, public water points and pictures that characterise the area. You can also access tables (windows) which contain the main data sets.

The WSTF has developed Quality of Life Indicators for the areas it is covering.

The website contains more than the database. The WSTF encourages users and visitors to contribute to MajiData. For example, if the users of the MajiData website think that our description of the area they live or happen to know is incomplete or even incorrect, we ask them to let us know. We will verify the information and change our descriptions if necessary.

The website also encourages users to participate in other activities such as the photo/video competition and the urban stories competition.

The website also has links to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Users can follow these links to respond to WSTF’s work and to contribute to a better understanding of the water and sanitation problems many urban areas in Kenya are faced with.


We at the Water Services Trust Fund hope that you will find MajiData a useful tool that will help you to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions in the urban low income areas of Kenya.  Please visit: www.majidata.go.ke