With funding provided by Danida Sustainable Infrastructure Finance a water supply and sanitation project is launched in the towns of Thika and Githunguri northeast of the capital of Kenya, Nairobi. Running from November 2022 to 2028, the project aims to improve the growing population’s access to clean water and sewerage – and create new local jobs and sources of income. COWI is advisor on the project.
The drinking water and sewer systems in the area date back to the 1950s. For instance, only half of Thika's residents have running water and Githunguri lacks sewerage altogether. Not to mention, the existing pipe systems are leaky and worn-out.
”Without a question, the project will make a positive impact on a range of parameters. Not least, when it comes to the quality of life and public health,” says Civil Engineer with COWI Christopher Ian Vedelsby, who heads the project in Kenya.
The project was officially launched on 3 November at an event with the COWI team, local sub-consultant East African Engineering Consultants, COWI customer Athi Water Works Development Agency, water utilities Thika Water & Sewerage Company and Githunguri Water and Sanitation Company, and Danida Sustainable Infrastructure Finance.
Drinking water and sewerage
The population of the two cities is expected to double to around 500,000 in total over the course of the next two decades. This is due both to the demographic trend and the establishment of a motorway from Nairobi to Thika. At the same time, Kenya is seeing droughts and, in turn, water shortage at a higher frequency.
According to Christopher Ian Vedelsby, the main goal of the water supply and sanitation project is to secure clean drinking water and sewerage for the residents of Thika and Githunguri and contribute to the Kenya 2030 Vision. And once completed, the water treatment plants and ancillary pipelines and pump stations will be able to treat 71,000 m3 of surface water a day from two nearby rivers.
”The project will also include sewerage in areas currently lacking sewerage, and construction of four wastewater treatment plants and a biogas plant, which will transform sludge into biogas, which can be sold and create another local source of income. River dams will also be built including storage for the residents to rely on in case of droughts,” says Vedelsby.
Green and energy-optimised solutions are high on the project agenda. The electricity needed to power all the processes comes partly from solar panels and a hydropower plant by one of the rivers. Both components are included in the project. COWI's part of the project consists of two phases.
”In phase 1, we will update an existing feasibility study and prepare design and tender documents for all related works, and assist the client in the tendering process to award the main contractor contract. In phase 2, we will supervise the construction and train locals in how to operate and maintain the plants," Vedelsby says, and adds that COWI is building on a strong position in Kenya and Africa in general, where the company has been involved in, e.g., water and wastewater projects for more than 50 years and currently manages three different projects.
Watch the segment on the project that aired on Kenyan TV when then acting Minister of the Environment Lea Wermelin visited the area in March 2022.