How prepaid water dispensers are transforming lives in low income neighbourhoods

Themes: Customer experience Innovation Water
Countries: Kenya Kenya-local

For the last three years, Margaret Mongare, a resident of Mukuru kwa Ruben, has appreciated the true value of clean, accessible water.

Before the introduction of prepaid water dispensers (PPDs) in her area, Margaret Mongare’s daily routine was a struggle. The nearest water point, a ten-minute walk each way, was often closed, leaving her to scramble for alternatives. This challenging process, coupled with the weight of the jerrycans, severely limited her water usage and dictated her entire day. The introduction of PPDs has been a game-changer, providing a reliable and convenient source of clean water.

“Water was expensive, too. KES 5 per 20 litres, and even more during shortages,” Margaret recalls. This financial burden and the physical strain forced her to prioritize tasks and limit the water used for washing. Clothes washing became a day-long affair, requiring advanced water collection the previous day.

With funding from The One Foundation, WSUP’s support for the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Corporation (NCWSC) implementing the PPD project dramatically shifted Mukuru Ruben. Now, easily accessible dispensers provide clean water 24/7, with a significantly reduced cost of KES 0.50 per 20 litres. This intervention replaced unreliable private vendors who often supplied contaminated water at exorbitant prices.

For Margaret, the impact of the PPDs extends far beyond the convenience of not having to walk long distances or wait in queues. The abundance of clean water has elevated her family’s hygiene, leading to a cleaner toilet, a healthier household, and improved financial standing. The PPDs have truly set her free from the constraints of water scarcity and high costs, allowing her to wash clothes and blankets more thoroughly and to budget less for water, freeing up money for other family needs.

“Now I can fetch water and wash clothes on the same day. We can wash our blankets thoroughly, something we couldn’t do before. We can budget less for water and allocate that money to other family needs,” Margaret shares.

Margaret’s gratitude extends far beyond her own household. She has emerged as a beacon of change, recognizing the project’s significance for mothers without childcare options while fetching water. Proud to be an early adopter, she actively educates her neighbours about the PPD system and its benefits, inspiring others to follow suit.

Margaret’s story is a testament to the transformative power of accessible clean water. The One Foundation-supported PPD project has improved not only her life but also the lives of countless others in Mukuru Ruben. It has replaced daily struggles with improved hygiene, time management, and financial freedom, painting a hopeful picture of what such interventions can achieve.