Provision of basic services: water supply

Review of the virtual exchange for Sub Saharan Africa on 27th October 2020

Photo: africa924 |

Water has been a critical commodity in the fight against the Corona. It has been used in regularly washing hands and maintaining hygiene. Cities/ municipalities therefore, have been in the forefront in ensuring that there is enough supply of water.

On the 27th of October, 2020, 13 participants from various cities/ municipalities in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe came together to engage on the subject of water supply. The composition of the participants varied from cities/municipalities to local government associations including Kiambu, Lusaka, Mbeya, Nairobi and Pretoria. The aim was to engage each other on the challenges being faced and the changes that need to be adopted going forward in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.


Four presentations were made in this session and the scope covered views and experiences from the cities (Nairobi City County), research work and civil society organizations (Ferrial Adam – researcher & Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor- WSUP). The session was moderated and gave room for response to the presentations and sharing of experiences from other cities. The session sought to respond to the following questions:

  1. What have been the core challenges for the municipalities?
  2. What measures have municipalities put in place?
  3. How do the municipalities deal with vulnerable groups which were most affected by the pandemic?
  4. Have there been any lessons learned already for long term strategies to improve cities’ resilience (i.e. preparedness for pandemics or similar events in the future)?


A Civil Society Response to the Water Crisis During Covid-19 – a Place for Activist Citizen Science
Ms. Ferrial Adam

Nairobi City County Response to Covid-19
Mr. Mario Kainga

How can the Global WASH Sector Respond Better in Future Crises?
Mr. Kariuki Mugo & Ms. Eden Mati


The presentations and discussions confirmed that most cities in SSA have inadequate coverage of the basic service; water. The sector players need to look into more sustainable solutions to the gap in provision of the service as opposed to short term measures in response to emergencies that are not long lasting. The highlights of the session were:

  • most of the countries in Africa are still water scarce.
  • there had to be sporadic interventions to reach the vulnerable in society who had no water & that the actors should not ignore the poor at their peril.
  • water has value hence encouraging the consumers not to pay has a negative impact on the service providers.
  • water utilities need operational sustainability plans that will stand in emergencies.
  • need for structured mandates & coordination mechanisms for institutions.
  • ensure equity in access to basic urban services.
  • the mapping of the water stressed communities using online tool by the activists is commendable and worth upscaling and replicating.


Sopia Kamau | Connective Cities

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