In Mombasa, 45,000 m3 of daily water supply flows from four freshwater sources located at between 30 and 250 kilometres inland. Demand, however, tops at 150,000 m3 per day and will rise to 200,000 m3 within a decade, Vitens Evides International calculated. Water experts have been assigned to offer a solution that will benefit Kenyan families and businesses.
Vitens Evides International (VEI) is a collaboration between two Dutch water companies. Based on the claim that The Netherlands has the best drinking water in the world, VEI and its partners fight water and sanitation problems in 22 countries around the globe. With knowledge transfer as its core activity, VEI helps water companies improve their management, train staff, and acquire more clients. In the process, Regional Director Africa Adriaan Mels explains, urban water supply is augmented and improved: “Rather than focusing on academic knowledge transfer, our own staff spends a week or two with staff in, for example, Kenya. To share hands-on experience and ideas. Like this, our engineer develops a relationship with a Kenyan engineer, which results in direct capacity building.”
In 2010, Adriaan approached MOWASCO, the Mombasa Water Services Company. “Mombasa is a very dry city. There are four remote freshwater sources for which there is competition with other cities. Parts of the city have water once in three or four days and due too low water pressure, other parts hardly ever.” Caleb Munyasya, former resident of Mombasa, adds: “In Mombasa, drinking tap water is possible only if one starts doing so from a very young age. Otherwise, tap water may be polluted and can cause illnesses. Bottled water and water dispensers are commonplace.”
Ramping up water supply
The cooperation between VEI and MOWASCO aims to improve water efficiency and financial management of the Mombasa’s water company. “We are currently trying to measure the amount of leaking and illegal diversion. On a local level we train staff to understand their neighbourhoods and report diversion and leakages. At the same time we help MOWASCO administer water supply, for example by making sure every client gets duly registered in the system.” The project is a run-up for a €220,000 dam West of Mombasa, the construction of which will begin in 2018. The project is financed by the World Bank and executed by the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. “Upon completion, this dam will ramp up water supply to 150,000 m3 a day in 2020 and up to 250,000 m3 per day in 2025, a four to six fold increase for which MOWASCO’s infrastructure needs to be prepared”, Adriaan explains.
Finding common ground
But not only in Kenya – across Africa as well as beyond VEI invests in water supply and cooperates with governments and local water companies. In Adama, Ethiopia, VEI works to protect water sources that have been polluted by sewage systems. “In this situation”, Adriaan explains, “we mediate conflicting interests as water used in one district flows from a source originating in another. We built a stakeholder platform that facilitates dialogue between the parties involved, and bring in the experience we gained in finding common ground between governments and water companies. Like this we work out a mutually beneficial solution.”