The Kenya government, businesses, conservation groups and utilities have launched Africa’s first Water Fund designed to provide a sustained water supply to a system that delivers water to over 9.3 million people and to generateUS$21.5 million in long term benefits to Kenyan citizens including farmers and businesses.
This landmark initiative will cut costs for hydropower and clean water while addressing water flow and soil erosion issues in the Upper Tana River basin.The Nairobi Water Fund will expand on a successful, global Water Fund model – bringing public-private partnership and innovative financing for watershed conservation into Africa, where water is one of the most valuable and scarce resources.This is especially timely as people across the globe celebrate World Water Day and are looking for innovative solutions to meet our water needs.
Spearheaded by a private-public Steering Committee comprising The Nature Conservancy, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Kenya Electricity Generating Company, International Centerfor Tropical Agriculture, Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority, Water Resources Management Agency, as well as the water technology company Pentair, East Africa Breweries, Coca-Cola and Frigoken Horticulture, the Nairobi Water Fund is a practical, scientific financial mechanism to ensure water security for all.
“The Nairobi Water Fund arrives at a critical time for millions of farmers, businesses and communities whose livelihoods are directly tied to the health of Kenya’s largest river andits lifeblood,” said Fred Kihara, The Nature Conservancy’s Nairobi Water FundLead. “Secure, clean water is critical for businesses and farmers to survive, and for the 60 percent of Nairobi residents that already lack adequate water supplies.”
The focal point of the new Nairobi Water Fund is the upper reaches of Kenya’s majestic but troubled Tana River. Soil erosion issues and low water supplies impact businesses, farmers and communities, increasing costs and limiting access to this essential resource. The Tana provides 95 percent of Nairobi’s water and half of Kenya’s hydropower-generated electricity. The Tana is also vital to Kenya’s food security as it supplies water to amillion farms in one of Kenya’s most productive and economically important regions.
“Nairobi has seen growth in water demand grow tremendously over the past years. We are planning a major investment in expanding our water supply where we are working with neighboring counties. At least 30 percent more water is needed,” said Engineer Philip Gichuki, CEO of Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company who also chairs Nairobi Water Fund.
The Water Fund will establish a revolving fund and a public-private partnership endowment, including stakeholders like Pentair, Coca-Cola, East African Breweries and utility companies like KenGen, to support land-conservation measures upstream. Key strategies include reducing sedimentation, improving dry season water flows, increasing the efficiency of water used in agriculture, reforestation and other economic and social benefits for communities, farmers and businesses.
The Nairobi Water Fund’s Business Case, created by The Nature Conservancy and its scientific partnersFuture Water and The Natural Capital Project, shows that investing at least US$10 million in on-the-ground environmental management efforts for the Upper Tana Riverover a decade will reduce sediment concentration in rivers by over 50% (varying by watershed and time of year), decrease annual sedimentation in the Masinga hydropower reservoir by 18% and increase annual water yields across the priority watersheds by 4%, increasing to 15% during the dry season in some locations.
The business case also shows that over a 30-year period the improvements will return more than twice that much, providing US$2 in benefits for every US$1 invested.