Socio-economic aspects of domestic groundwater consumption, vending and use in Kisumu, Kenya



Okotto L, Okotto-Okotto J, Price H, Pedley S & Wright J (2015) Socio-economic aspects of domestic groundwater consumption, vending and use in Kisumu, Kenya. Applied Geography, 58, pp. 189-197.

Shallow hand-dug wells are commonly used to supplement partial or intermittent piped water coverage in many urban informal settlements in sub-Saharan Africa. Such wells are often microbially contaminated. This study aimed to quantify the amount of such groundwater consumed, identify the socio-economic profile of well owners and consumers, and patterns of domestic water usage in informal settlements in Kisumu, Kenya. Building on a previous study, 51 well owners and 137 well customers were interviewed about well water abstraction, water usage and handling patterns, asset ownership, and service access. An estimated 472m3 of groundwater per day was abstracted in two informal settlements, with most groundwater consumers using this water for purposes other than drinking or cooking. According to an asset index, well owners were significantly wealthier than both the customers purchasing their groundwater and those drinking or cooking with untreated groundwater. This suggests that shallow groundwater sources provide poorer urban households with a substantial volume of water for domestic purposes other than drinking and cooking. Ongoing challenges are thus to raise awareness of the health risks of such water among the minority of consumers who consume untreated groundwater and find means of working with well owners to manage well water quality.

Hand-dug well; Domestic water use; Self-supply; Kenya; Poverty assessment

Applied Geography: Volume 58

Publication date31/03/2015

People (1)


Dr Heather Price

Dr Heather Price

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences