1. bookVolume 16 (2022): Issue 1 (June 2022)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1646-7752
First Published
16 Jun 2016
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Wells and Boreholes: Resilient Water Provision in Nairobi

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Volume & Issue: Volume 16 (2022) - Issue 1 (June 2022)
Page range: 48 - 72
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1646-7752
First Published
16 Jun 2016
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

In most Global South cities, the majority of urban residents, especially those in informal settlements, continue to survive off the main infrastructural grid. In Nairobi for instance, over 60% of residents live in informal settlements, defined by widespread squalor and shortage of key infrastructures for everyday living. Despite their existence as unplanned, these informal settlements have witnessed some forms of innovation around alternative technologies for water provision. Through oral and archival sources, this article shows that although large infrastructural systems are critical to urban dwellers, Nairobi’s waterscape has always found its resilience in a quilted landscape of water supply technologies. As part of this quilt, boreholes and wells have long been essential, either as key solutions or as complements to the main supply system. The author explores the development of Nairobi’s centralised formal water supply system from 1899 to date locating inherently built vulnerabilities that are born out of the dependency on large infrastructural systems. He concludes that the centralised piped water supply system is critical hence vulnerable, and that urban resilience for both the poor and rich urban class, is built on alternatives that ensure multiplicity of access and usage.

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