Athi Water Services Board Comes of Age
By Mbugua Njoroge
It is now 9 years since Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) was established under the Water Act through the Gazette Notice No.1775 of 21st March 2003. Surprisingly, AWSB’s 9th anniversary coincides with the World Water day and whose theme is “Water and food security.”
The Board’s mandate blends well with this year’s theme as far as its mandate of planning, developing, rehabilitating and expanding water and sanitation services infrastructure is concerned. The Board also ensure efficient and sustainable provision of quality and affordable Water and Sewerage services in its area of jurisdiction which covers Nairobi county, Kiambu county and Gatanga District in Murang’a county.
Water Services Providers
The board works hand in hand with Water Service Providers who handle operations and maintenance of developed water and sanitation infrastructure. The AWSB has appointed the Nairobi Water & Sewerage Company (NWSC) as the Water Services Provider (WSP) in the City.
The 10 other WSPs appointed to work within the Board’s jurisdiction area include the Kiambu Water & Sewerage Co. Ltd; Gatundu South Water & Sanitation Co Ltd; Karimenu Community Water & Sanitation Co Ltd;
Gatanga Community Water Project; Limuru Water & Sewerage Co Ltd; Kikuyu Water Co Ltd; Ruiru-Juja Water & Sewerage co Ltd; Thika Water & sewerage Co. Ltd; the privately-run Runda Water & Sewerage Co Ltd and Githunguri Water & Sanitation Co Ltd.
To surmount the water crisis within the city, the Board has collaborated with the NWSC in emergency measures that have included sinking various boreholes in various parts of Nairobi. “While boreholes are very expensive to sink, pumping water is equally expensive and yet borehole yields can also be quite poor,” explained Eng. Milgo.
Service provision Agreements
The Board has reached service and provisional agreements with the service providers. These outline the targets to be met, and performance contracts which are reviewed annually based on balance score cards that derive from the services provided and customer satisfaction. The Board’s key thrust is not merely finances but sustainable customer service, perspective and satisfaction. It develops infrastructure which it in turn leases out to the service providers as per contract terms; the service providers retain the revenue accruing from service provision and remit to the Board the agreed percentages.
The companies are advised to train and develop staff and build their capacities, and capabilities, in other ways using various benchmarks. Equally, the WSPs are obliged to educate their customers on how and where to channel complaints and other enquiries.
Infrastructure DevelopmentCompleted projects: Since its inception 9 years ago,Athi Water Services Board is currently running various projects to increase the water supply in the country. The Board has completed several water projects. One of the major project completed project so far is the rehabilitation of Sasumua dam and Ngethu Treatment works which was funded by the AgenceFrançaise de Développement (AFD). The dam was commissioned in April 2011. The rehabilitation of both treatment works has improved their treating design capacities to 56,000m³/day and 440,000m³/day for Sasumua and Ngethu treatment works respectively.
“As a result of the above initiative, there was a restored storage capacity to 16 million (16,000,000) m³ of raw water, from the previous 5 million (5,000,000) m³. This resulted in an increased throughput flow of 65,000m³/d to Kabete from the previous 42,000m³/d. The stored volumes will adequately cater for water supply to upper areas of Nairobi such as Ruaka, Gachie, Kitisuru, Lower Kabete, Loresho, Kabete, Uthiru and other Dagoretti areas especially during the drought period. Resultant to this, the project will release water from Gigiri system earlier being pumped to Kabete to improve supply to Eastlands estates along Jogoo Road,” notes Eng. Malaquen Milgo, AWSB CEO.
On-going water projects
In partnership with the Water & Irrigation Ministry and WSPs, the Board has been upgrading various water supply projects including Karimenu, Ndarugu, Thiririka, Komothai, Kiambu Urban and Karuri Water supply projects which are also expected to supply communities also drawing from the Sasumua and Ndakaini transmission corridor.
Other projects include strengthening of water transmission pipeline which will improve the transmission capacity of Ngethu to Gigiri reservoirs and the transfer capacity of water from Gigiri - Kabete – Uthiru- Karen to supply the most deficit part of the middle and upper part of the Nairobi City.
“The residents of greater Ruiru and Juja areas are expected to benefit once Ruiru and Juja Water Supply Project is completed. This project aims towards supplying 13,000m³/d of treated water to Ruiru town and a further 4,000m³/d to Juja town,” affirms Eng. John Muiruri, AWSB Chief Manager Infrastructure Development.
Trunk sewer network coverage in Nairobi is a mere 40% of the requirement and is based on the 1998 Sewer System Master Plan.
As a consequence the Board has started increasing trunk sewer network coverage in Nairobi. Already the Board is constructing about 51 km of sewer line and reticulation networks which are expected to serve residents of Ruai, Gatharaini South, Gatharaini North, Clay works; andRuaraka.
The Nairobi Sewerage Improvement Project (NaSIP) has been on-going targeting to improve sewer services viz. the Nairobi River Trunk Sewer; Gitathuru River Trunk Sewer; Mathare River Trunk Sewer; South Nairobi Dam Trunk Sewer; KirichwaKubwa River Trunk sewer; and Kiu River Trunk Sewer; NaSIP is also rehabilitating the Kariobangi, and Dandora Sewer Treatment Plants.
Sewer reticulation is also being undertaken in Riruta, Kawangware and Kangemi in Dagoretti (this is an 8km section costing about Ksh 150 million) and the Gatharaini line covering areas such as Githurai, Mwiki, Kasarani and Thome among others (this is a 50km section costing about K sh 1.5 billion) to enable individuals to connect to the trunk sewers.
On the other hand the Nairobi Rivers Basin Rehabilitation and Restoration Programme: Sewerage Improvement Projectcontruction works is set to commence in July 2012. This project is part of the larger Nairobi Rivers Basin Rehabilitation and Restoration Programme and is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The specific objective of the program is to eliminate pollution of Nairobi Rivers and protect them as alternative water sources. It will rehabilitate and expand access to sewerage services in Nairobi from 40% in 2009 to 59% by 2014.
The project will include the construction of 54 km of trunk sewers, 40km reticulation sewers and provision of 72,000 household sewer connections covering the Nairobi River Basin, Ngong River Basin and Mathare River Basin.
Future plans target to construct reliable trunk sewer lines to Kenyatta University (KU), Karen, Kitisiru and even up to Dagoretti Market. Eng Joseph Kamau explained that internal funds complement donor funding in facilitating construction of the above and other projects.
Planning For the Future
In addition the Board has completed and unveiled the Nairobi Water Supply Master Plan. The plan is one of the major projects that are proposed for implementation in the immediate term by Athi Water Services Board (AWSB). The Master Plan involves developing new water sources for Nairobi and Satellite towns to ensure adequate water supply for residents.
The study estimated water demands for the Nairobi city and selected neighbouring areas to be 687 217m 3 per day in 2010. The study also estimated that the demand is likely to increase to 908,415m3 per day in 2017. According to these estimates the demand will continue to increase in subsequent years at approximately 1,037,721m3, 1,510,188m3 and 1,811,127m3 per day in 2020, 2030 and 2035 respectively.
“To meet the above water demands, the preferred Master Plan scenario considers the development of the two consecutive phases of the Northern Collector without the construction of Maragua dam. Total additional flows from the Northern collector would be conveyed to Thika Dam,” says Eng. Malaquen Milgo, AWSB CEO.
Eng. Milgo avers that due to the capacity of transmission facilities downstream of Thika dam, it would be necessary to start implementing in parallel with the Northern collector a new raw water main from Thika dam to a new water production plant to be located at Ngorongo and subsequently, a new treated water gravity main to Kabete reservoirs.
Pro-poor initiatives Community Project Cycle (CPC)
The Board is currently implementing 17 CPC projects in its area of operations. The CPC is an approach developed to support improved access to water and sanitation in the poorest locations of Kenya. It is a common approach applied by all the Water Services Boards and supported by the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) under the coordination and guidance of the Ministry of Water & Irrigation.
Out of the 17 projects five projects funded through Kenya Water & Sanitation Programme which was supported jointly by SIDA and DANIDA have been completed and four of them commissioned. The five projects are: Ngumi, Kiambaa-Kawaida, Waing’ere, Ndumberi and Gathiga.
Besides, another 12 CPC project are in various stages of completion. The projects are being funded by the Finland government through the Water Services Trust Fund. These projects include: Grey Stone, Muthiga-Mukinye, Runana, Gatuanyaga, St. Velonica, Ngelelya, Giathanine, Matunda, Kahugu-ini, Forteen Falls, Kamae and Kinale.
Water and Sanitation Services in the Urban Informal Settlements:
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) identifies water and sanitation services as key factors in lifting people out of poverty. Against this background, AWSB has partnered with the development partners such as European Union under ACP-EU Water facility, French Development Bank, NGOs and other partners to address issues of water and sanitation services in urban informal settlements.
The partnership has culminated in the construction of numerous water kiosks and ablution blocks in the Nairobi’s informal settlements, financed under the various programs of the board. Amongst them include the following: Construction of 15 ablution blocks under AWSB internally generated funds, AFD financed construction of 20 bio-centres in Kibera, Mukuru and Korogocho; Construction of ablution blocks and water kiosks under the ACP-EU Water facility (about 20 ablution bocks already completed), Construction of about 10 Iko toilets in collaboration with the Ecotact, City Council of Nairobi, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the East African Breweries.
Mbugua Njoroge is the Corporate Communications Manager in the Athi Water Services Board, Nairobi Kenya.