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Kibera is home to 400,000
Kibera extends 3.5 kilometers from west to east, and 1.5 kilometers from north to south.
Kibera slopes downward from west to east. Beginning in the Ngong Hills, the two forks of the Motoine-Ngong River flow through Kibera to the Nairobi Dam, at the extreme east of Kibera, then join eight other tributaries to form the Nairobi River..
The Nairobi Dam was built to control floods during the rainy season, that inundate Kibera today.
Kibera, or Kibra, the official name, is on the training grounds occupied at the turn of the 20th century by the First African Rifles, an element of the British forces that fought in WW1 and WW2.
Today, the fifth generation of direct descendents of the Nubian soldiers that formed the First African Rifles are concentrated in the villages of Karanja and Makina, at the north (top) of the picture.
Water and Sewage Today
The north and west of Kibera have some piped water and sewage connections serviced by Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company [NCWSC]. Eastern Kibera, at a lower elevation, has century-old sewer lines.
Over a hundred years, the piping systems bringing water to the First African Rifles barracks have been tapped uncounted times.
Current water distribution is carried out by almost two thousand small tank-owners, who run hoses and small pipes to over two thousand water points. Prices fluctuate daily; pipes belonging to Athi Water, and operated by NCWSC, are tapped, often with the collusion of utility employees.
Water is a major enterprise in Kibera. The official tariff for water points in a slum is 10 Ksh per cubic meter; actual prices are 5 Ksh per 20-liter jerry can, or 250 Ksh per cubic meter.
For comparison, San Francisco piped water is 125 Ksh per cubic meter.
Design of the future KWSD water distibution system
Daily Kiberan water use is estimated to be 30,000 cubic meters, or 75 liters/person/day, or 20 gallons/person/day. Over 250 schools, a thousand restaurants and food vendors, a hundred clinics, a hundred hotels, and hundreds of toilet and shower facilities must purchase water daily. Approximately 75% of water use is for washing clothes and personal hygiene.
Our goal is to design the most water-efficient system possible. Water reuse systems are dropping in price, and potential savings in piping infrastructure can be immense.
Designing a 21st century water system in Africa's biggest slum has one advantage: there is no formal system to replace.