Daily Life, Housing, Kenya
Comments 2


Water tank t

The city is working on a bypass that cuts through Kitisuru. What does that have to do with water? Well, the construction crew punctured a major water line, shutting off water for almost the entire Kitisuru area.

Things like this can happen. There can be a problem with the city water, power outages, etc. That’s why you make sure the place you live has back up power and back up water.

The back up water is usually managed through a borehole that taps into a large, underground, backup tank. Our compound has a borehole. It turns out, it’s not usable.

There is a lawsuit going on with one of the homeowners (long story and I don’t know all the details except that this has basically negated back up water for the entire compound) and that has prevented the compound from being able to use the back up water. I had known about the lawsuit but I didn’t know it prevented us from having back up water (landlord was not forthcoming on that). I didn’t realize the impact until the water line was shut down.

So, what did we do? We all bought water. There are water delivery services in Kenya that will come and fill up your home’s water tank. It was a little tricky for us as our tanks are up in our attic.

However, we got a service that had a really, really, long hose. They ran the hose through the house, up the stairs, up into the attic. Tanks were filled. Situation temporarily relieved, we then worked with our landlord to figure out a way to mitigate any future water issues.

The solution (until the lawsuit is settled and the compound can have its back up water supply) was to add in an external back up tank just for our house. We got the tank installed out back. It can hold 1000 liters. It’s outside so that tank can be filled without running a hose through the house.

Here are some pictures from when the tank was getting installed.

Area for the base of the tank

Area for the base of the tank.

watertank - 4

To give an idea of where it is out back

watertank - 2

This was then moved to the cemented area

A few days later the water line was repaired and we all had water again. But, in the meantime, I feel better knowing that, between that outside tank and the two in the attic, we have 3000 liters of water at hand at any time (or whenever we’ve just ordered water).

There are a few insights that I’ve gained from this experience:

  • While things like this happen in Kenya, there are back up systems in place. I could easily order clean water and have it delivered the same day. In New York, it’s much less likely something like this would happen. But it does happen sometimes. When it does, there is no back up system.
  • It’s nice to be in a compound with neighbors. If we had a stand-alone house, I wouldn’t know how to get water.
  • I thought we had asked a ton of questions and really dug deep on the details before signing a lease. Now I know to ask upfront: Are there any lawsuits pending?

That last bullet isn’t just a Kenyan thing. It can apply anywhere. If you rent, you should ask if there is any kind of legal issue that would affect your day-to-day life.

As I think about this more, I realize that there may be another post coming out of this one. I think we did all right with what we found, but we have had some issues. I’ll write a post that will include tips, things we did right, and things we wish we knew before.

Since time of writing, we had another water issue and had to have water delivered again. 

Here is J. holding the hose up to the ceiling





  1. Pingback: The Year in Review | nyc2nairobi

  2. Stephanie Giddings says

    we had problems in Kigali and had a water tank that was filled regularly. Then USAID discovered that the day guard was selling water to nearby camp ladies! We got moved to another house. Stephanie you are right about no backup in US. When power goes out in Maine the pump from the well doesn’t work and we have to buy drinking water and bucket up from the lake for the toilets.

    Liked by 1 person


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