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TitlePrivate boreholes for Nairobi’s urban poor: The stop-gap or the solution?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsChakava, Y, Franceys, R, Parker, A
VolumeVolume 43
PaginationPages 108–116
Date Published03/2014
Publisher 2014 Elsevier Ltd
Place Publisheds.l.
Type of ArticleJournal article
Publication LanguageEnglish
KeywordsSelf-supply boreholes, urban poor, water

Self-supply boreholes are prominent in urban poor settlements, often due to utilities’ inability to keep pace with demand in addition to common failures to direct public water to where it is most needed in terms of health and welfare. A study in Nairobi’s low-income settlements has found that boreholes represent an expensive but ‘least bad’ coping strategy, though at the expense of groundwater resources declining at an average annual rate of 3 m. Results showed 42% of respondents depend on boreholes within 100 m of households, constructed at an average capital cost of US$ 27,500 for a 230 m deep borehole. Water tariffs and quality standards were not enforced, with the average price to consumers (wUS$3/m3) over ten times the nationally approved lifeline tariff for piped water, and recorded Escherichia coli counts and fluoride levels up to 214/100 ml and 9.4 mg/l respectively, significantly over WHO standards. Investigating the longer term implications, this paper concludes that the overall water supply demand shortfall could be greater and last longer than anticipated with consequential impact on access by the poor to adequate water quantities. Therefore, over-abstracting groundwater, a source that cannot be easily diverted to higher income consumers, may be the default solution for the poorest for longer than is reasonable, let alone desirable. [authors abstract]




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