Wastewater and the spread of COVID-19

For ten years, Caroline, a kale ‘sukuma wiki’ vendor in one of Nairobi’s busiest markets has been receiving healthy-looking kale from her supplier. However Caroline does not know where her vegetables are grown or whether the farmer uses clean or untreated sewer water for the crops. For many years, Kenyans living in urban areas, and especially in Nairobi, have been warned that fruits and vegetables sold in markets could have been grown using wastewater.

New scientific evidence detected the presence of SARS-Cov-2 RNA, the virus that causes COVID-19, in wastewater systems, indicating a possible fecal-oral transmission route. In response to this finding, researchers from developed countries have employed wastewater-based epidemiology [1] as a methodology for detecting the prevalence of the virus in the population within a sewer catchment. Though studies have not confirmed any known cases transmitted from wastewater to humans, the potential for aerosolized transmission of the virus disseminated by wastewater sprinkler irrigation systems is a possibility.

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Solar energy kept us afloat amidst a pandemic

Since 2016, funding from USAID through the Kenya Integrated Water Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project has enabled 231 small and medium water projects to tackle infrastructure and skills challenges to reach more people with clean water and sustainable services. The challenges are unique to each water project. One of these projects is in Kamulu Town on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

The project was started in 2013 by a resident of Kamulu when he saw that other residents faced an acute water shortage. “Residents here relied on two shallow wells with limited supply. I felt I needed to help salvage the situation,” he said.

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A pathway to the sustainable expansion of WASH enterprises

Along the Kisumu-Nairobi highway is the town of Ahero, where two enormous steel water tanks stand side by side by the road. The tanks bear the mark of the ‘Boya Water Project,’ and occasionally act as a landmark for many travelers along the highway. The tanks serve several water kiosks that bear the same project name. On market days, these kiosks along the highway are a beehive of activity, with water jerricans dotting the collection points.

The treasurer for the Boya Water Project in Kisumu County was pleased to see the community benefit. “As a water project, we had a dream to ensure our consumers had reliable and clean water,” he said. “Gladly, USAID’s Kenya Integrated Water Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project shared the same vision as us and aided us in a big way,” he added.

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Innovative technology reducing barriers, increasing access to water

The Little Sisters of St. Francis Community Water Project in Nairobi’s Kasarani area benefits approximately 57,000 students, patients, and community members with access to safe drinking water. The Catholic sisters run the project alongside a community hospital, primary school, pastoral care center, vocational training center, and a shelter for rescued street children.

The water project is unique. Water in this area of Nairobi is high in fluoride and unhealthy for human consumption. Through a partnership between KIWASH and DOW Chemical Company, a fluoride decontamination treatment system was installed in 2018. DOW donated an energy-efficient filtration system while KIWASH provided technical assistance and infrastructure support to expand the existing water pipeline, install an efficient pump, and construct two water kiosks.

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Scaling up water access as an essential commodity amidst a pandemic

Busia, a bustling border town between Uganda and Kenya, is full of travelers passing through for business or to visit family. Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic in Kenya, the Busia Water and Sewerage Company (BUWASCO) has managed to increase daily water production by nearly 50 percent to 2.9 million liters in 2020. This increase is due to the company’s hard work before the outbreak of the pandemic in Kenya to improve its infrastructure, records, and customer service and to increase demand for piped clean water.

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Responding to COVID-19 and solidifying WASH development gains

mobilepayment.jpgIn March 2020, Kenya reported the first coronavirus disease case in the country. The virus has since spread from the capital Nairobi to 46 other counties with over 36,000 people infected according to the Ministry of Health’s data dated September 13, 2020. Besides the disease burden, the pandemic has caused immense economic impacts characterized by the volatility of the Kenyan currency, poor performance of financial markets, and general job losses hence affecting many livelihoodsAs the Government of Kenya (GoK) mobilized its response to the pandemic, USAID was able to support its efforts through an extension and re-alignment of its Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (KIWASH) project. 

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Expanding water services through innovation and financing

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In Makueni County, the Chyulu Valley Water Project is a clear example of a community water business taking steps to expand water supply services through innovative ideas and commercial financing. Under the leadership of Veronica Musyoki, the project has increased its customer base from 7,000 to 20,000 in four years by constructing 11 new water kiosks and connecting 73 households and institutions to water. The company as now established a water bottling plant to boost group income and expand water access.

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Clean and reliable water means healthy students and a productive community

wiser.jpgWhen the Wiser Secondary School in Muhuru Bay in Migori County opened in 2010, the community was hopeful that their children would be able to have a good education. But the lack of clean, reliable water at the school and in many homes meant students were often absent, helping their mothers make the treacherous journey down to Lake Victoria to collect water, or they were sick with a water-borne disease.

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Promoting improved sanitation through community groups

In June 2019, the Vaele Women’s Group – which formed in 2010 and offers members low-interest loans through a member savings plan – expanded its entrepreneurial sites by starting a sanitation enterprise to sell products and services that improve latrines in their community. They heard about this opportunity from USAID’s Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project.

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Strength of a woman in water project management

As she skims through neatly stacked files on her desk, four water clerks sit patiently waiting to brief their manager on previous day outcomes. The silence in the room is frequently interrupted by the ringing phone. Meet Diana Rose, the first female manager of the Osieko Nambo Water Project – one of the main water supplier for 8,000 people in Siaya County. During the meeting with her technical team, she exudes confidence and gives directions and advice, emphasizing customer service and billing accuracy.

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Kiwash Blog

Waster water photo
For ten years, Caroline, a kale ‘sukuma wiki’ vendor in one of Nairobi’s busiest markets has been receiving healthy-looking kale from her supplier. However Caroline...
Factsheet
Since 2016, funding from USAID through the Kenya Integrated Water Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project has enabled 231 small and medium water projects to tackle...
Officials from Boya Water Project interacting with a water consumer served through a water kiosk
Along the Kisumu-Nairobi highway is the town of Ahero, where two enormous steel water tanks stand side by side by the road. The tanks bear...

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