Researchers have come together to create a water management platform for Kenyans who live in arid areas and counties riddled with constant drought. Out of the approximately 46 million Kenyans, a solid 41 pc rely on water from natural resources such as ponds, shallow wells, and rivers. A challenge that is experienced especially in the rural areas.
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In the country, only 9 out of 55 public water service providers in Kenya produce a continuous supply of water for expecting Kenyans. As part of the Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development (Kenya RAPID), the need for water in arid lands will be researched on, assessed and addressed to cater for those without access to safe drinking water.
Chief of Party Dorcas Kabeira for the Kenya RAPID & Kenya programs director at millennium water alliance, stated that the program aims to combine assets and the experience of development factors in both private and public institutions. They will do this by leveraging their capital and investments, and use both innovation and their access to markets to address complex situations of inadequate water access, sanitation and the poor governance of natural resources in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL). These include the counties at the northeastern part of Kenya; Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana, and Wajir.
The American company IBM will avail one key product to assist in helping solve the water scarcity. By using a software platform known as the Water Management as a Service Platform (WMaaSP) to provide support for the research groups and county water officials and other partners while making decisions. This particular software can enable decision making support by predicting water demand, based on the population trends. The ground and surface water supply as well as the climate patterns and use of the land.
The platform uses sensors to detect the present water supply to provide supply and predict demand patterns, based groundwater extraction data. It can also help the various water service suppliers to significantly reduce their lost water or non-revenue water. This refers to the water that is lost from leakages and theft or even meter inaccuracies before it reaches the actual customer. So far, the software has been well received and already making changes.
Water services at the northeastern counties, among them Lodwar water and sewerage company in Turkana and the Dirib Gombo water scheme in Marsabit have experienced significantly improved results when it comes to their non-revenue water. For example, Dirib Gombo’s non-revenue has reduced from over 40pc to 30pc, with better tariff collection that has tripled since implementing the WMaaSP.
In the past, government and non-profit organizations have contributed to the water supply shortage by building expensive unsustainable dams to meet, the domestic agricultural and industrial needs of counties. Unfortunately, the local communities were then left with the responsibility of maintaining the dams and boreholes without any financial security.
Additionally, water managers have also shown a lack of awareness of the location, status, and performance of water infrastructure present in their counties. This has led to an inability to respond to the user’s feedback (local community) and a limited ability to provide maintenance solutions for repairs. However, now using the IBM app, it has become very easy to assist users when it comes to water problems. For example, when a citizen reports an issue to the sub-county water officer, he can now use the app to locate the problem and assign a repair officer deal with it. All within the app.
The repair officer can then go and inspect it, thereafter they are able to designate what resources are required and file a site report detailing the problem experienced; also using the app. The final process includes completing repairs and filing a report on what needed fixing to close the issue by using the app. The app clearly proves its resourcefulness. The program will also allow county representatives to work with IBM research engineering team to learn first hand how the WMaaSP app is designed and developed.