In Kenya it is estimated that only a third of the population has access to safe drinking water close to their homes at an affordable price. Inspired by personal experience growing up in communities, where school-going children walk long distances to secure water for their families before/ after going to school causing absenteeism resulting to school drop-outs.
Between the year 2012 and 2013, International Transformation Foundation members worked together on a country-wide research project. The project looked into sustainable clean drinking water system(s). The main insight gained was, all communities wished on an improved water system. Most rural communities do not have a working tap water system at all, prompting school-going children and women to walk very long distances to secure water from neighboring communities’ wells/ rivers. Ironically in urban areas, the single use of plastic water bottles is common, since it is the only source of clean drinking water for those who can afford, but on the other hand it promotes littering within the cities.
The root problem of the Kenyan water system projects in most communities were summed up in two where:
+ The water system with the technical components to get groundwater to the tap and
+ The paying system that describes what to pay for, how to maintain the system and how the business is set up; the social system difficulties lead to inaccessible clean drinking water.
The Join the Pipe project aims to install sustainable tap water stations near playgrounds, city centers, parks, schools and bus stations in Africa; for people to drink clean tap water whenever needed. The
project also works to bring awareness on environmental impact of production and waste of bottled
water. The project is operated in partnership with The Join the Pipe Foundation, a community of tap
water drinkers promoting tap water drinking and helps developing nations gain access to clean drinking
water and sanitation. The foundation is based in Amsterdam and fundamentally provides specially
designed and sustainable products that characterize the project.
These products include:
a) Water saving tap station that not only provides clean drinking water but also conserves water with its
auto-stop design. It has a customized filter system that removes last impurities from water and
ensures that water coming out is clean and safe for drinking
b) Refillable water bottles made of BPA-free plastic for people to drink from,
c) Jerry carry karts which reduce the physical injury from constant lifting and carrying heavy loads of
water on heads of the children
d) Drip taps for hand washing. These help in preventing spread of waterborne diseases and reduces
90% of water wastage.
The Join the pipe Project is divided into three sub projects to ensure its effectiveness:
1. A Water Kiosk at School
A Water Kiosk at School holds a unique and honorable mission that is twofold: to serve and empower the
youth of Africa through business experience by providing rural communities with access to affordable,
clean drinking water. Since beginning in November of 2013, A Water Kiosk at School has benefitted 6,557
students and 120,358 people from 12 kiosks across 12 different schools. Each kiosk is built on the
grounds of a local, primary school and taps into its water supply in order to sell the water to community
members. Currently, A Water Kiosk at School has a yearly goal to establish two kiosks in Kenya, one in
Rwanda, and one in an additional country. A Water Kiosk at School hopes to educate others on the
serious water crisis that faces so many rural communities in Africa, while highlighting the importance of
strengthening the youth of each country.
The project is set up in rural African communities with dire water shortage issues. The communities the
project is set up in lack water for all the basic needs and have no tap water operation systems. These
communities undergo strenuous journeys in search of water. The project aims at making water for
drinking and all household use readily available while installing modern tap water systems in the
community through the school. The project is managed by the school students’ water committee and
they in turn are able to learn basic business skills while vending water to the community during their free
By pre-financing a school to set up the kiosk, within 36 months, the school is able to earn more than
enough money from selling water to community residents at an affordable price. This way, they
eventually repay the set up cost(s) which is then redeployed to another school. The water kiosk also
creates extra income for the school which is used primarily for WASH activities such as buying toilet
papers, maintaining the kiosk and caters for other school needs beyond WASH activities to improve the
quality of sanitation and education.
2. Bottle Bike:
In line with the recent plastic ban in Kenya and our interest in keeping the environment clean, we came up with a specially designed bottle bike/ vending trolley idea. Here we sell refillable water bottles at an affordable price. This way one is able to carry clean drinking water at their own convenience and we are able to prevent pollution through disposable drinking water bottles. The bottle bikes offer employment opportunities to willing youth as the idea is for them to sell as many bottles as possible and earn income from it.
3. Public drinking water station:
Inspired by the fact that there are various drinking water points around Nairobi City Centre but none of these points are functional because all the taps have been vandalized. This leaves those who can’t afford to purchase bottled water to suffer. Plastic water bottles, a source of clean drinking water for those who can afford it, litter the area. ITF saw the opportunity to provide access to clean tap water for thousands of people, while preventing the use of disposable water bottles. This brought about the idea of installing unbreakable public Join the Pipe’s drinking water stations in the City Center at vandalized drinking water points. We currently have two public drinking water stations in Nairobi’s main recreational park- Uhuru Park installed in collaboration with Nairobi City County Government for people to access clean drinking tap water free of charge.
The projects seeks to collaborate with different governments in cities across Africa to build the drinking tap stations in major public hotspots such as parks, bus stations and popular walkways. This project is suited to urban centers where tap water is available and its aim is to encourage more people to adopt the idea of drinking tap water to reduce the use of plastic bottles.