Understanding Peri-Urban Water Resources in Kenya Using Participatory GIS

Authors: Francis Koti*, University of North Alabama
Topics: Africa, Urban Geography, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: water resources, Kenya, participatory GIS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In many developing countries, more than fifty percent of the population lack clean drinking water. This problem is worse in rapidly growing towns. Peri-urban towns on the fringe of large African cities tend to be more prone to water shortages due to prevailing economic conditions such as small budgets, lack of technical staff, high unemployment rates, escalating poverty levels, and the lack of institutional capacity. This study explores the water supply market in Athi River town, outside Nairobi, Kenya’s Capital City seeking to answer the question – how has water been negotiated as a resource in Athi River town in Kenya; and how can geospatial technologies enhance the understanding of water resources and also increase local capacity to deliver? The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods to collect and analyze data. After obtaining and assembling basic geodemographic data within a GIS, fieldwork was conducted in Athi River, Kenya. Key informants, focus group discussions, mental mapping workshops, and GPS transect walks were used to obtain information. Data was analyzed within a GIS environment. Study results indicate a convoluted, yet thriving water supply system that comprises both formal and informal mechanisms. The inefficient and unreliable formal water supply market has produced parallel, yet locally trusted water supply systems – which are more reliable and affordable. Disparities in the supply system are apparent especially among disenfranchised groups in the community. GIS offers a robust platform for the assemblage of geospatial data that can help in the decision-making process.

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