The Status of Drinking Water at Gachagi Informal Settlement in Thika Sub-County, Kiambu County, Kenya
Mwangi, Ruth Wangari
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As a result of rapid urbanization in developing countries, majority of urban residents live in slums often characterized by lack of basic services, such as water and sanitation. The urban poor often use shallow pit latrines and at the same time may draw water from the nearby wells which is often polluted. This study explored the perception and status of drinking water in Gachagi informal settlement in Thika Municipality, Kiambu County. The study adopted both quantitative and qualitative research design to collect data. This cross-sectional study involved one hundred and forty (140) respondents. The respondents age ranged from 18 years to 68 years, the mode was 29 years, median 38 years and the mean age were 40.9 ± 3.40. Twenty water (20) samples were collected from various water sources used by the respondents and used for laboratory analysis. Of these twenty, ten were from shallow ponds and rocks (aquifers), five from the municipal water-tap and five from borehole. Multiple tube fermentation technique was used to enumerate coliform bacteria. The collected data was statistically analyzed with qualitative data undergoing thematic analysis and results discussed and presented in graphs, charts, frequency tables and pie-charts. The common sources of water were municipal-taps (n=59), shallow wells (n=35), water-ponds (n=33), River Chania (n=7), boreholes (n=3), rain water and (n=84) transported water using open buckets with no lids. Age (p=0.011), gender (p=0.020) and level of education (p=0.046) of respondents had significant association with method of water transportation. At least (n=30) of females and (n=11) of respondents with tertiary education perceived the water is contaminated with all water samples tested indicated presence of coliforms bacteria. Fecal Coliforms bacteria were present in all the tested water with sites indicating high risk. Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria were also found to be present except in municipal tap water. Majority (n=91) of respondents were aware of water treatment methods with boiling of water (n=46) and chlorination (n=19) being commonly used method. More than three-quarter of the respondents (n=111) disclosed that they had suffered a waterborne disease especially diarrhea and there was average significant level of awareness of water-borne diseases associated with unsafe drinking water. The drinking water sources were contaminated and therefore, water projects should be up-scaled in slums. From the study it has been established that water in slums is not safe for drinking. The government and other development agencies should therefore strive to enhance the availability of safe water in the slums.