By Fridah Okachi
The persistent scarcity of water in Gatina, Kawangware, and its surrounding areas has become a pressing issue despite occasional rainfall. The dire situation has led residents to resort to illegal means in order to obtain water.
In Legio Maria village, Gatina, I spoke with a group of women who expressed their frustration with the high cost of purchasing water. A 20-liter container, which should ideally cost between Ksh. 10 and Ksh. 20, has become an unaffordable expense for them. Consequently, these women have been compelled to resort to illegal water connections to meet their basic needs. It is important to note that such illegal activities are punishable by law, with potential fines of up to Ksh. 100,000, in addition to paying for the estimated consumption during the period of illegal connection.
Meanwhile, in the neighboring informal settlement of Kawangware, residents face similar challenges. Water supply can go missing for weeks, making it exceedingly difficult for them to carry out everyday activities such as cooking, washing utensils, and doing laundry. James Mureithi, a water vendor in the area, shared his concerns about the adverse impact on his business. He recalled that the water business used to run smoothly, but the current scarcity has created significant obstacles. However, Mureithi remains hopeful that the situation will improve with the ongoing rainfall. One resident emphasized the hardship caused by prolonged water shortages, particularly when it comes to cooking meals.
In Dagoretti South, specifically at Ndwaru, water scarcity has forced vendors to increase their prices to Ksh. 20-25 per container. Residents now have to travel long distances to access water for their daily needs.
Vincent Onteri, another water vendor in Ndwaru, acknowledged that the price of water fluctuates based on the overall economic conditions. The increased cost of water is not only impacting residents but also affecting businesses, including grocery stores and those involved in cooking mandazi (a popular local snack) in the area.
The scarcity of water in Gatina and its environs is causing significant hardships for the residents, forcing them to resort to illegal water connections or bear the burden of inflated prices. This situation affects their daily lives, livelihoods, and the overall local economy. Immediate attention and solutions are needed to address this critical issue and ensure that all residents have access to a reliable and affordable water supply.