John Tyman's
Cultures in Context Series
AFRICAN HABITATS : 
FOREST, GRASSLAND AND SLUM 
Studies of the Maasai, the Luhya, and Nairobi's Urban Fringe
PART FOUR : KIBERA
39a. Health and  Sanitation II : 545-557
www.johntyman/africa
Click for full-screen images..
.
545. Another example of the trade in water. The tank was erected by an entrepreneur in Nairobi and filled using water stolen from the Council water main. The pipe into the tank is almost certain to have been fractured at some point of its course a short distance underground through a badly drained area and the water will be contaminated as a result. The people who come here to buy water must also contend with the smell of decaying rubbish dumped by local residents.
..
546. Contamination of water is not limited to the immediate vicinity of any facility. This toilet was built by an enterprising individual and serves a group of 10 families. Persons using this it pay for the privilege and the door is kept locked to make sure that they do. The high wall on the left, with the trees behind it, is the boundary between Kibera and a more expensive residential area ... and the toilet is designed to overflow into a channel which discharges this waste into the river on the other side of the wall! Pit toilets in Kibera are shallow because of the high water table (in what was once a swampy area) and they fill up quickly (and overflow!) because of heavy use and because people also dump garbage in them.
.
547. This sanitation block was built for a local self-help group by a Kenyan non-government development agency. It contains toilets, a bathroom and drinking water. These facilities have been combined because of the shortage of space and the difficulty of laying pipes to connect with Council water lines over land which is invariably claimed by someone. In theory the land is still owned by the Kenyan government but those who have been in possession of land for 10 years are able to claim it as their own. And the position is further complicated by the interests of developers (who happen to have friends in government) since, by reason of its location, the land occupied by the settlement is now considered valuable.
.
548. Those who use this modern facility pay to do so, handing the money to an attendant. It costs one shilling to use it as a urinal but two shillings if you use toilet paper (which is provided together with soap to wash your hands) and two shilling also for a shower. The attendant is hired by the local committee that manages the facility and the income derived is credited to the hundred or so families who belong to the group and is reinvested in the community. Instead of paying every time they go there, though, families can opt instead to pay a levy of about 50 shillings a month.
.
549. A plastic (PVC) pipe carrying water stolen from the Council main to fill the tank shown previously (frame 545) through a drain which is virtually a sewer since it receives the overflow from nearby toilets. The pipe has been broken and patched up on a number of occasions and should have been replaced long ago. When pressure in the water main is low, polluted water is drawn into the pipe and some of it may even be siphoned back to the main: when pressure is high the contaminated water flows instead into the tank, from which a section of the community purchases their supply.
.
550. Nearby community water project in the village of Muthiga in Dagoretti, drawing water from the Nairobi River. Since the very source of their water is polluted it poses a significant health risk and the community is slated to receive a micro-filtration system courtesy of Australiaís Tweed Shire, as an extension of its Mentoring Program.
.
551. A spring-fed pond-cum-reservoir close to the river's source, from which water is supplied to the City, and even this shows signs of pollution.
.
552. From this reservoir water is carried in open channels beside the river to meet the needs of communities lower down.
.
553. Only a small portion of the riverís flow is diverted, in this narrow channel. It is carried around the edge of the Councilís old weed infested reservoir and returned to the river channel. Water intended for use in the city is then pumped to a chlorination plant for treatment.
.
554. This industrial estate is the source of much of the pollution of industrial origin pouring into the upper reaches of the Nairobi River. Factories here produce both plastics and paper and also metal goods and much of their waste ends up in the river.
.
555. The Dagoretti slaughter house provides meat for the whole of Nairobi, and its blood and offal is discharged into the nearby stream. Since this is the source of the Nairobi River, these discharges represent the first of many contributions to the pollution of the Nairobi catchment. As such the stream was selected for remediation under the Mentoring Program inaugurated by the Tweed Shire in Australia in association with the International River Foundation.
.
556. The waste treatment plant close by was built by the British in colonial days and taken over by the City Council following independence. It handled waste from a number of abattoirs but broke down years ago. Since then waste has been pumped straight into the river.
.
557. The site of an experimental project northwest of Nairobi using natural agencies (reed beds, UV etc.) to treat polluted water: visited by a representative of the NGO trying to clean up the Ngong River and an environmental officer from the Tweed Shire Council. They hope to employ similar techniques at Kibera.
.

AFRICA CONTENTS


Text, photos and recordings by John Tyman
Intended for Educational Use Only.
Contact Dr. John Tyman at johntyman2@gmail.com
for more information regarding licensing.

www.hillmanweb.com
Photo processing, Web page layout, formatting and hosting by
William Hillman ~ Brandon, Manitoba ~ Canada