CNN International learns how innovation is being introduced to solve Nairobi’s water shortage

CNN’s Marketplace Africa travels to Nigeria where the population of Nairobi is outgrowing the city’s water and sanitation capacity. Host Eleni Giokos learns how new businesses are finding innovative solutions to deliver clean water and tackle sanitation problems.

 As the population of Nairobu continues to grow, critical services like water and sanitation are under pressure to keep up. Nuamwathi Gichau, a self-described middle to upperclass resident of Nairobi explains how she pays an average of 10 dollars a month for metered city water: “On average, we have water flowing through our taps about twice a week…. Once, when the rationing was really bad, we didn’t get water here for about three weeks.”

However, limited access to water has also resulted in a growing sanitation problem. Nairobi’s City County Director of water, sanitation and energy, Mario Kainga highlights how much is needed to be done to improve sanitation. He says: “We have seen Nairobi’s water connection at 81%, while sanitation connection is at 50%. But we know that we still have a long way to go especially the situation in informal settlements or slums. Before 2010 they were not considered in planning platform because a number of these slums either have encroached in private land or government land.”

The water shortages of Nairobi have seen a rise in innovation from new businesses eager to step up and solve the water issue. Bioliff’s solution to the water crisis is to provide on-site waste processing that allows communities to reduce water consumprion by reusing treated water waste. The co-founder of Bioliff, Charles Mousley, explains his business’s creative idea: “You send your waste water to a septic tank, it goes into the soils and then that natural environment in your ground deal[s] with the waste in that water, as it passes through the soil… But, the issue with urban centers is huge population. So many septic tanks putting so much waste into the ground, that the local soils can’t cope with it. To make things worse, because there’s a shortage of water people tend to drill boreholes. At the same time, you’re putting more and more waste into that ground and it is going to reach the same water source that you’re pulling your water out of… We are basically using the same bacteria, microbes, in a huge population to very powerfully break down the waste in the water.”

Another innovative solution being introduced is by Sanergy – this initiative sees someone manually remove and treat waste which would otherwise be dumped into Nairobi’s rivers and streams. Alex Manyadi, Director of Government Affairs at Sanergy explains his company’s solution: “We not only provide toilets, but we do a solution that is containment, we do transport, and then we treat… It’s no longer possible for us to just say that you flush it and forget about it, but to think about where is that going. So we are ensured that the waste is not ending up in the environment.”

Mousley explains to Marketplace Africa why his company aims to help solve Nairobi’s water shortage: “No home should be doing without water. Water is a very vital commodity for every home.”

Marketplace Africa is sponsored by Dangote Industries.

Marketplace Africa airs at 1715 EAT on Friday 22nd March on CNN International.

The show also airs at the following times:

Saturday 23rd March at 1815 EAT

Sunday 24th March at 0100 EAT, 0500 EAT AND 2115 EAT

Monday 25th March at 0400 EAT and 1945 EAT