KISUMU, KENYA —
The engine from the Nyamasaria Water Works is pumping muddy water from the Kibos River. It will be purified and stored until delivery to over 30,000 customers in the peri-urban district of Kisumu East. The company produces an average of 80,000 liters of water per day.
Access to clean and safe drinking water has been a scarce commodity to most people in Kisumu, Kenya, despite its location next to the world’s second largest fresh water lake, Lake Victoria.
Most people in the city can not verify the cleanliness of the water they purchase from vendors peddling water from handcarts. They deliver water in 20 liter plastic containers at the doorstep of their customers.
Water delivery is usually the responsibility of the government. But Nyamasaria Water Works is the country’s first privately-owned water company, and is often cited by consumers for its efficiency and dependability. Development experts say there could be more non-governmental water pumping and cleansing stations if it were easier for private companies to get grants and loans.
Nyamasaria started in 2002 as a small scale irrigation project for farming tomatoes by Elly Onyando Odhong, a banker, and his brother Bernard, a professional clinical health officer. Within six years, it was providing clean water to households. But Bernard Odhong says the plant is now facing some challenges:
“We’re experiencing interference problems with our piping network, ” he explained, “from the construction of roads, power outages, by real estate developers and lack of funds for expansion. While awaiting the completion of the highway road, the company has purchased power generators and it’s appealing to donors for financial support to expand the pipes to further places.”