Clean drinking water for people in Kenya thanks to digitisation

08.12.2016 – MajiData – a public database for improving water supply and sanitation

Around half the population in Kenya has no access to clean drinking water or hygienic toilets. Polluted drinking water and inadequate toilets cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea, accounting for around 80 per cent of all cases of illness. Children are especially at risk. For the eight million or so slum dwellers, the situation is particularly acute. For this reason, the human right to water and sanitation was included in the Kenyan constitution in 2010. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is helping Kenya to implement this human right, particularly in slum areas.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ has joined forces with the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) to develop the MajiData database for recording the water supply and waste water disposal provision in Kenya’s 2,000 or so urban poverty areas.

MajiData acts as the basis for planning infrastructure upgrades. Kenya’s public water utility companies, of which there are more than 90, can submit project proposals to the WSTF. These proposals are only approved if they have been recorded by MajiData and therefore demonstrably contribute to an improvement in water and sanitation provision in slum areas. Water kiosks are one example that clearly illustrate the practical implementation of the human right to water. Whereas illegal water traders often charge up to 50 cents for 20 litres of water in poor areas, the WSTF kiosks provide the same amount of water for two cents – and it’s quality tested. To ensure people are being supplied in the long term, the WSTF reviews the operation of water kiosks once a year. This is done with the help of a specially developed app, meaning that the data is immediately available.

These projects, which are supported by the German government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have given an additional 1.6 million people access to clean drinking water and an additional 400,000 people access to sanitation.