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Rainwater harvesting can help stem the aqua crisis

Kenya’s per capita water availability will drop to 235 cubic metres a year by 2025 as a result of population growth—far below the internationally required benchmark of 1,000 cubic metres (1,000 litres) per capita. Currently, it is estimated that available water per capita is about 650 cubic metres per year.

The Athi Water Services Board (AWSB), which is charged with expanding the water infrastructure in Nairobi metropolitan area, says daily demand by Nairobi residents alone stands at 750,000 cubic metres a day against a supply capacity of 530,000 cubic metres, leaving a daily deficit of up to 220,000 cubic metres.

With Nairobi’s population set to rise above five million, the projected demand for water in the city by 2030 stands at 1.6 million and 2.2 million cubic metres respectively. Recently, Josephine Mutala, an architect, gave an example of the benefits of water harvesting projects for urban areas promoted by the National Museums of Kenya, which has been spearheading the concept of rainwater harvesting.

She said in May 2003, the museum was able to partly solve the water problem of their employees when the entire city was stinking due to a water shortage after the pipeline from Sasumua dam burst. “The employees were allowed to take rainwater from the storage tanks to their houses for domestic use.

Otherwise people in Nairobi people were buying water for Sh7,000 per tanker during the rainy season,” she recalls. The British government’s Code for Sustainable Homes encourages fitting large underground tanks to newly-built homes to collect rainwater for flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering gardens and washing cars.

This reduces household water consumption by 50 per cent. In Israel, rainwater harvesting systems are being installed in local schools to educate schoolchildren about water conservation principles and addressing water scarcity issue that the Middle East faces.

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