Harnessing innovation for accessible clean water in Kenya
AfricAqua, a social enterprise focused on innovative solutions for delivering clean water to low-income communities, joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide 20,000 Kenyans with access to safe drinking water through 100 Watershop water outlets. These 'water malls' are expected to employ 200 young adults as distributors and offer entrepreneurship opportunities to community members offering related products and services.
Water and Irrigation CS Eugene Wamalwa (Centre) officially launches the Africaqua water in the presence of Africaqua CEO David Kuria (Left) and Kimana water shop manager Joyce Nduta (Right). The water has been packaged in a collapsible jerrycan for safety and convenience during transport.
AfricAqua's inclusive One Save Drop initiative is introducing a novel concept of clean-water delivery to areas of Kenya without access to safe drinking water. Throughout the country, demand for clean water is so high that existing water-delivery mechanisms cannot keep up. AfricAqua's innovative distribution model involves establishing community water hubs, which not only provide safe, treated water (with water-quality results available to consumers), but incorporate space for pharmacists, solar, health and hygiene products as well as water-related merchandise.
In Kenya, clean water is scarce and most people cannot afford home-treatment systems. Epidemics of diarrhea, cholera and parasitic worms have severely impacted poor communities as a result of contaminated water sources and unsanitary water collection and consumption equipment. Supplies of treated water are constrained by challenges with distribution, especially to the low-income communities who face the direst need. With continued population growth, it is estimated that by 2025, Kenya's per capita water availability will be approximately two thirds less than it is now. Unless the distribution gap is addressed, this will have serious consequences on public health and the nation's economy.
AfricAqua aims to bridge this gap by adapting services to the specific needs of each community and developing public-private partnerships that facilitate efficiency, innovation and delivery. In addition to bringing 20,000 people safe water and other critical services by 2020, AfricAqua's One Safe Drop initiative will provide clean water to health centers and schools.
Coca-Cola Central East and West Africa Public and Communications Director Norah Odwesso, Cabinet Secretary Water and Irrigation Eugene Wamalwa, Africaqua CEO David Kuria and programs manager Growth Africa Roseirene Githige launch the Africaqua water at the company's water shop in Kimana, Kajiado County.
The company's inclusive business model was informed by Ikotoilet, a social enterprise that incorporated snack shops, showers and money-transfer services along with sanitation services. AfricAqua's One Safe Drop initiative has adopted a flexible approach, offering clean water both at Watershops (where reverse-osmosis treatment takes place) and kiosks throughout densely populated areas. This flexibility not only makes AfricAqua's business model sustainable and scalable, but provides much-needed employment opportunities for local youth as water distributors and affiliated shopkeepers.
AfricAqua's first Water shops in Kajiado, Machakos and Narok are now being piloted along with community water kiosks; these communities were chosen because of their acute demand. AfricAqua has provided communities members in these locations with 1 litre, 10 Litre, 20 litre and 25 litre reusable cans for easy water collection, and disinfects the cans each time they are refilled. With Kenya's significant demand, the company has committed to scale up to 100 Watershops by the end of 2020 and expects to break even within five years of operation. This dramatic expansion is being made possible by partnerships with Government of Kenya, Water.org and Coca-Cola among others, which are providing financing as well as technical assistance and expertise in business innovation and growth.