Kilifi water crisis threatens COVID-19 mitigation measures

A student washing her hands as a measure in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Residents in Kilifi County now fear that this simple gesture is now being threatened by a water shortage crisis that has rocked part of the county./COURTESY

Fear of spread of COVID-19 is gripping residents of Kilifi County following a water shortage crisis being experienced in Kilifi town and its environs for the past five days.

According to the residents, efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 which has affected at least 30,636 nationally are now under threat as water meant for hand washing is not available.

“Frequent water scarcity has also affected supply of water in tanks put by the county in market centers and matatu stages for the public to wash their hands before entering the markets and boarding vehicles. This is a serious crisis at this time”, said Bakari Abdallah who has a stall at Oloitiptip market.

He said the ministry of health protocols demand regular hand washing to fight coronavirus, but the practice has been discarded by the members of the public following the frequent water crisis in the town.

A food kiosk owner in one of the town estates, Zawadi Kitsao said she has been buying clean water from those with private storage tanks at sh.15 per 20 litre jerican to serve her customers.

“I have a water metre at my place of work but its tap dries up frequently, even though I receive monthly water bills. This has affected my business to a large extent,” she said.

Residents claim that they have now been forced to use water from boreholes which they term as unsafe for human use during this COVID-19 pandemic period and urged the County water department to speed up any challenges it may be facing in supplying water.

According to a notice given to water consumers by the Kilifi Mariakani Water and Sanitation Company (KIMAWASCO) the water provider in the county, there has been a major breakdown of the main pipeline at Baolala along the Baricho-Mombasa water line.

The notice apologizes to its customers that the breakdown was severe but under repairs and that water services would resume immediately after the maintenance works.