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Water on tap thanks to smart card plan

Updated: 2015-07-02 07:51
By Agence France-Presse in Nairobi, Kenya (China Daily)

Around the world, people use bank machines to access cash. But in the Kenyan capital's crowded slums, people use similar machines to access an even more basic requirement - clean water.

In a bid to boost access to clean water, four water dispensing machines have been installed in Nairobi slums that operate like cash machines. Customers buy affordable water using smart cards.

It has cut costs dramatically, and is helping improve health, residents say.

Water on tap thanks to smart card plan

"It's pure and good for cooking, and above all it is affordable," said Peter Ngui, who runs a small street restaurant. "I used to get water from far away, but this water system is closer to my place of work."

People living in Nairobi's cramped slums have long struggled to get clean water cheaply. Without water pipes or plumbing in the tin-hut districts, residents resorted to buying water from sellers who dragged handcarts loaded with jerrycans or oil drums into the narrow streets.

That water was often dirty, sometimes taken illegally from broken pipes.

The new machines, installed by the government-run Nairobi Water and Sewerage Co, allow people to purchase water directly - and far more cheaply - than before.

For the government, the machines allow them to make a profit, as water was previously stolen, with people cracking pipes to siphon off water to sell.

(China Daily 07/02/2015 page10)

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