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WORLD OF FIGURES: Nairobi loses 38 per cent of its water before reaching metres

Sunday February 17 2019

Thirty-eight per cent of the water produced is not accounted for.

Thirty-eight per cent of the water produced is not accounted for. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

If you were not restricted in any way, how much water do think you would use in a day, for drinking, cooking, washing, etc? The answer might surprise you.

Six people live in my house and when there is no water rationing (a rare happenstance!), we use about 25,000 litres per month. I know this from my water bill.

The water company works out its bills in cubic metres and one cubic metre is equal to 1,000 litres. Without rationing, my bill ranges between 20 and 30 units and so, 25 is fair average.

Now, 25,000 litres divided by 6 is 4,167 litres per person per month; and this works down further to 139 litres per person per day.

Pause for a moment and try to visualise that …

I must reiterate that this 139 litres is calculated on the assumption that the supply is unrestricted. The reality is quite different: my most recent bill indicates that I consumed 17,000 litres in January 2019. That is, 94 litres per person per day.

There are two reasons for the reduced consumption: first, of course, is the ongoing water rationing. Secondly, I have sensitised my household on the importance of reducing water usage: they were quite shocked to learn that each uses over 100 litres per day. I have a 100 litres container and I pointed to it saying: “that’s how much water each person uses every day in this house, and that doesn’t include what is used “out there”!”

How does my water usage compare with that of other residents of the city? According to the audited report of the Nairobi Water Company for the year that ended on 30 June 2017, the company produced 181 billion litres in that period. This works down to about 496 litres daily.

Then, the population of the city was about 4 million people, so the company produced about 124 litres per person per day. It appears that we are saving about 30 litres per person each day in my house.

If that is so, why do we have citywide water rationing? The answer is to be found in the audited report. The auditors found that even though the company produced 181 billion litres during the year, it only billed for 113 billion litres.

Nobody knows where the other 68 billion litres went! I suspect that a small portion is lost through broken pipes while the larger amount is stolen in illegal connections.

In short: 38 per cent of the water produced is not accounted for. Thus, the daily share comes down to 77 litres. The reality is that my house is getting more than its fair share — 17 more litres per person per day.

But if you think Nairobi water supply is bad, consider Lagos. The Lagos Water Corporation produces 880 million litres daily for a city of almost 20 million people. This is just 44 litres per person per day — before deducting losses. Can you survive on that?

 

www.figures.co.ke Twitter: @MungaiKihanya

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