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Department of Spatial Planning

Joint Article by Sophie Schramm, Moritz Kasper and Simon Bohlen

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Many people queuing at a newly errected free-water point in the Kibera area in Nairobi © Moritz Kasper​/​TU Dortmund
People queuing at a newly errected free-water point in Kibera, Nairobi (2021)

Article

"Governing Pandemic Waterscapes: Covid-19 and Nairobi Metropolitan Services as Co-Catalysts of Waterscape Changes"

The article published in the journal Water Alternatives focuses on changes in urban (water) governance and government water projects in Nairobi since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

Keywords

Urban waterscape/ Covid-19/ boreholes/ urban governance/ Nairobi/ Kenya

Authors

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic and the initial focus on handwashing measures have highlighted the importance
of water access as an essential service in protecting public health. Although handwashing was ultimately deemed less relevant in curbing transmissions of the airborne SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus, the pandemic presented a dilemma for water providers and residents in water-deprived urban areas as they had to adhere to new hygiene standards and requirements with limited water access. As such, a deeper understanding of pandemic urban waterscapes – infrastructure, governance systems, technologies, and everyday practices – is necessary for ongoing debates on (post)pandemic or zoonotic cities. We therefore focus on changes in urban (water) governance and government water projects in Nairobi since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. We show that Covid-19 has contributed to changes in Nairobi’s waterscape, though only in conjunction with recent changes in the city’s overall governance structure. Whether these waterscape changes will lead to greater equity in water access or have a long-lasting impact in alleviating water deprivation in sections of the city is more than questionable.

Here you may find the full article in the Journal Water Alternatives.