Far upstream, in the steep hills and farmlands outside Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, the Upper Tana–Nairobi Water Fund is securing water for the city’s future.
With support from The Coca‑Cola Foundation and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), The Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund, Africa’s first water fund, was established in 2015. Today it has resulted in well over 100m litres of water per day being added to Nairobi’s water system by protecting the watersheds that feed the Tana river in Ndakaini, Kenya.
The Tana River provides Nairobi with 95% of its water and the Fund works to protect Nairobi’s water supply by increasing the amount of clean water which flows through the rivers and streams that make up the Tana Water Basin.
Working with the tens of thousands of smallholder farmers that rely upon this land, the Fund supports several activities that improve land management and sustainable use in Maragua, Sagana and Thika-Chania. Not only do these activities conserve water, but they also empower women, reverse deforestation, provide a voice to rural farmers and a platform for communities to come together and ensure a safe, sustainable supply of water for future generations.
“Through the hard work of Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), The Water Fund and thousands of farm owners and community members, we have improved water access for more than 800,000 people, which is no small feat,” says Duncan Kimani, Manufacturing Director of Coca‑Cola Beverages Africa.
By supporting these activities upstream – such as terracing, agroforestry, and the installation of new irrigation technology – the Upper Tana–Nairobi Water Fund is securing water for Nairobi’s future. Farmers embrace the training and materials provided by The Water Fund because, in addition to protecting their soil, they also significantly improve their livelihoods.
“There are tens of thousands of hardworking farmers that have benefitted from The Fund. It is a great example of how private sector leadership can further the productivity of NGOs and civil entities,” says Phillip Githinji from Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company and manager of Thika Dam.
As a direct result of the work completed by The Fund, the quality of source water has improved, enabling Nairobi Water to reduce their water treatment costs by 30%. In turn, this has enabled them to expand their network to reach over 800,000 of Nairobi’s residents.
“Ensuring every community maintains access to adequate and sustainable water services provides the foundation upon which we can build sound economic development and stronger, healthier communities,” explained Duncan Kimani.
The partnership between The Coca‑Cola Foundation, NCWSC and TNC is part of the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), a Coca‑Cola program which aims to reach six million people across the continent with improved access to safe water by the end of 2020.
A pilot investment of KES 15.2 million (approximately USD 150,000) by The Coca‑Cola Foundation, followed by a larger investment of KES 126 million (approximately USD 1.3m) enabled the establishment of The Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund in 2015. Crucial to the sustainability of the work The Nairobi Water Fund is the KES 758m (approximately USD 7.5m) endowment that has also been established. Interest generated by this fund will provide a sustainable source of ongoing funding for watershed conservation activities for many years to come.
“We are grateful for the partnership of Coca‑Cola and The Nature Conservancy, and for the hardworking farm owners of Ndakaini, and the watershed. Today, over 100m litres per day flow into our water system that were not present before The Nairobi Water Fund,” remarked Nairobi Water Company Ndakaini Dam Coordinator Job Kihamba. “We look forward to what we can achieve together going forward.”