Thursday, April 10, 2014

0 Nairobi Water Fund: Securing Water from Tap to Tap

With Nairobi’s population growing at almost 3% annually and water availability decreasing more rapidly as a result of climate change, the city and its four million residents face a serious challenge. More than 90% of Nairobi’s water and at least 60% of its electricity come from the Tana River.
School boys enjoying spring water in Maragua
sub watershed. Photo: Fred Kihara
The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global not-for-profit organization, is working with 18 public and private partners, including Coca-Cola, East African Breweries, KENGEN and the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA), to proactively address Kenya’s water scarcity issues by bringing the Water Fund model to Kenya. Over the past 12 years TNC has worked with partners in Latin America to create 32 Water Funds that now help to conserve water sources for tens of millions of people. The Nairobi Water Fund, started in 2012, marks the first for Africa.
The Water Fund model engages large, downstream users, usually corporations and utilities, that willingly contribute to a water conservation fund as a way of shoring up their business investments. Revenues generated by the water conservation fund are then used to help pay for water-smart management practices, such as tree-planting and terracing, on upstream lands that filter and regulate the water supply. A healthy watershed reduces water treatment costs, minimizes water shortages and enhances communities’ ability to adapt to climate change.
For the Nairobi Water Fund, TNC has completed a feasibility study, launched pilot conservation projects in three priority watersheds – Maragua, Sagana and Thika- Chania, all of which are important for Nairobi’s water and power supplies – developed environmental and socio-economic monitoring programs and formed a high-powered Steering Committee.
Over the next five years, the goal is to capitalize Nairobi’s water conservation fund and increase watershed conservation upstream efforts to further reduce sedimentation and water treatment costs. As sedimentation decreases through improved land management practices, so too will water treatment costs, which allows organizations like WRMA and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to channel more of their resources into efforts that improve treatment and distribution systems. Ultimately, the aim is to develop a replicable tool that can be used to ensure good water quality, adequate supply, lower treatment and distribution costs and reliable power in other parts of Africa.

Land owners implementing soil conservation measures in Upper Tana.
Photo credit: Fred Kihara

More information about Water Funds can be found in The Nature Conservancy’s Water Fund Manual or A Primer for Monitoring Water Funds

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