Africa’s First “Water Fund” Offers Hope for Nairobi Residents

By Saburi Chirimi, April 10, 2015

In many parts of Africa, providing safe and affordable water supply is a major challenge. In Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, for example, some 60 percent of residents do not have access to a secure water supply.

Enter Africa’s first-ever “Water Fund” led by The Nature Conservancy and the publication of the business case for the fund.  The focal point of the fund is Kenya’s majestic Tana River, which is critical to the Kenyan economy. It provides 95 percent of Nairobi’s water and half of Kenya’s hydropower-generated electricity. However, it is troubled by soil erosion and falling reserves, which translate into higher costs for utility companies and businesses at a time of rapidly rising water demand.

The landmark environmental fund brings together downstream water users–including business giants and utility companies like East African Breweries, Coca Cola and KenGen– to pay for conservation and better farming practices upstream.  These practices help address water supply and soil-erosion affecting millions of farmers in Kenya’s Upper Tana River basin, while also cutting costs for hydropower and clean water for Nairobi residents.

Following a two-year pilot phase and nearly a million dollars raised, farmers are already seeing benefits. And the business case for the Fund—based on scientific evidence and modeling and taking into account changes in precipitation and climate—promises an attractive return for investors and farmers alike. With the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) providing ongoing monitoring and evaluation to ensure the success of the Water Fund, Nairobi residents can smile at the hope the Water Fund presents.

To read more, check out the following articles:

Nairobi Water Fund Set to Address Water Preservation – CNBC

Water Fund to benefit conservation – SciDev.Net

Kenya hoping to make a splash with Africa’s first public-private water fund – The Guardian

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