ATM-styled water dispensers deployed in Kenyan slums


An ATM-styled water dispenser has been launched in the Mathare slum of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, enhance access to cheaper and cleaner water.

The innovative new system allows people swipe a smart card that is topped up at a kiosk or through a mobile phone to allow water flow the mouths of the dispensers. Although this is not the first time the scheme is been used in Kenya, it is the first time an urban area will play host to an innovation of this kind.


Water scarcity has been an issue in Kenya for decades; only a small percentage of the country’s land is good for agriculture and the year round climate is predominantly dry. Locals rely mostly on water vendors who are very expensive. It is reported that water vendors in Kenya sell 20 litres of water for KSh 50 (50cent) while the water company sells waters from the water dispensers at half a shilling for 20 litres. This is more than 50 times the amount being sold by the water company. Alternative cheaper sources, however, are usually too polluted for consumption.

According to The Water Project, Kenya’s natural water resources also do not provide an equitable delivery of water to the various regions of the country, leaving most of the population without any fresh water. Growing urbanization has also forced poor urban dwellers to the slums, where there is no water or sanitation. Congestion is further worsening the already hazardous health conditions.

In order to provide readily available and affordable clean water , the Nairobi City Water and Sewage Company (NCWSC) in a private public partnership with Danish water Engineering company, Grundfos have set up a water dispensing machine. NCWSC is opening about four of these ATM style dispensers in Kenya and Kenyans are expecting that this innovation will expand across the nation.

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