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DIG Helps Kenyan Utilities Provide Household Water Connections to the Poor
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

For John Mbaluka, a retired civil servant, his new household water connection from the Embu Water and Sanitation Company (EWASCO) has transformed his life for the better. John is one of 75,000 low-income residents in Embu, Kenya to have improved access to water services as a result of the USAID-funded Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA). DIG has been leading the SUWASA Kenya initiative since 2010 under a sub-contract from Tetra Tech.  

With DIG’s support, EWASCO secured a USD 884,800 loan from the Kenyan bank, Housing Finance, to install a 29 km pipeline. In 2014, the financing agreement represented the largest commercially-financed loan ever made for a water project in Kenya’s history. DIG was instrumental in helping EWASCO obtain this loan, assisting the water utility with identifying a viable project and preparing a financing proposal for local banks. In addition, DIG provided technical assistance to Housing Finance, enabling it to design loan products for water utilities and to adopt appropriate lending methodologies for this new clientele. DIG also facilitated EWASCO’s access to an Aid on Delivery grant from the Kenyan Water Services Trust Fund to help EWASCO repay its loan.  

Prior to EWASCO’s partnership with SUWASA, John Mbaluka struggled to bring water close to his home.   His wife, Felista, walked four kilometers to the river to collect water that she would carry home on her back.   He dug three wells near his home. The wells, which were mainly dry except during the rainy season, were insufficient to meet the household’s needs. John then built a water tank to harvest rain water, which his family used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and washing.

After receiving a potable water connection in the convenience of his own home in October 2014, “life has really changed,” John proudly said. “We are very happy. We don’t think about water anymore. It’s no longer a problem.” John not only has peace of mind knowing his family is drinking clean water, he earns income thanks to his connection. With a reliable water source, he and Felista increased his livestock’s milk production and raised more chickens, generating an additional USD 400 in gross income per month from the sale of milk and eggs. To John and his wife, it is well worth the average USD 5.55 they pay EWASCO each month. John even built sewer pipes and a septic tank to install two flush toilets in his home. John can now “live like a Nairobi man,” he declared with a smile.

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