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New $15m fund gushes with hope for an end to Kenya’s water troubles


VENTURES AFRICA – A public-private water fund was, Friday, launched in Kenya by the Nature Conservancy, a US-based NGO. The fund hopes to replicate a similar model to the one implement in Latin America, which recorded significant success.

The organisation is working with partners like the East African Breweries Ltd, Coca-Cola, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), and KenGen, the leading electric power generation company in Kenya, to implement a first-of-its-kind fund, which will protect one of Kenya’s most important water sources — the Tana River.

The 1,000 kilometres long river is Kenya’s longest. It flows from the Aberdare mountains, north of Nairobi, to the Indian Ocean and supplies 95 percent of the water used by the estimated 3.4 million residents of the capital. However, an estimated 60 percent of Nairobi’s residents lack access to clean water supply. The situation is worse in the country’s slums.

The river also provides half of the country’s hydropower output and accounts for 43 percent of all power produced in-country.

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The new fund will be managed by a trust seeking $15 million to be spent on soil and water conservation activities in the Upper Tana watershed. Under the new trust, NGOs and landowners will work upstream to ensure the watershed is protected and the nature’s ability to capture, filter, store and deliver clean and reliable water is harnessed. Already, the project’s partners have been able to raise nearly $2 million.

A $10 million investment in Water Fund-led conservation interventions is likely to return $21.5 million in economic benefits over a 30-year time-frame, according to a new study. Smallholders and agricultural producers are expected to enjoy up to $3 million per year in increased agricultural yields. KenGen is also expected to record over $600,000 in increased annual revenue as a result of improved power generation and avoided shut-downs and spillages. The NCWSC would also be able to save about $250,000 in cost per year from avoided filtration, lowered energy consumption, reduced sludge disposal costs and fewer downtimes. For the people, however, improved water quality would be enjoyed for all basic purposes.

“It’s good economic science and the best we could do,” said Colin Apse, senior freshwater conservation adviser at the Nature Conservancy. According to him, Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city, is preparing to launch a similar scheme. Other sub-Saharan African cities are expected to roll-out water funds in the future.


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