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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Nairobi's taps run dry
By Gray Phombeah in Nairobi
The capital city of Kenya, Nairobi, has been doing without the essentials of life recently.
As if that is not enough, the city residents now have to cope with an acute shortage of water.
All these woes are blamed on the worst drought in 30 years, which has dried up rivers, hydroelectric dams and water taps.
It is a city in need of a shower.
Heavy trucks ferrying water from wells outside Nairobi to thirsty neighbourhoods have become a common sight in the city.
There are long queues everywhere as people wait for hours to fill their jerrycans.
And men and woman admit openly they have gone without a bath or clean clothes for weeks.
"We don't have baths anymore," complains one Nairobi resident.
"We don't wash out clothes. There's no water anywhere."
For months now, the water levels in the reservoirs have been dangerously low.
A month ago Nairobi City fathers imposed water rationing in the city, and only managed to make matters worse.
Cashing in have been water sellers who are now working around the clock using flatbed trucks converted into water tanks.
City officials admit that contaminated water is being sold to thirsty city residents, and the city could also be facing a severe health crisis.
There are blocked toilets in hotel rooms. In restaurants, owners have to pay up to $1,000 a month for truckloads of water delivered from boreholes on the outskirts of Nairobi.
Nairobi appears caught in a vicious circle of water and electricity shortages.
Power rationing has been on for months across the country.
And now industries in Nairobi have begun laying off workers as they cut down their production or shut down.
"The power and the water rationing is affecting the economy so much."
Nairobi's Deputy Mayor Joe Aketch blames the weather for the water shortage and the Kenya Power and Lighting company for making it worse, saying without electricity the little drinking water that is available cannot be pumped into the city:
"We are hoping and praying that God will bring us the rain... It's a natural disaster."
With more than 70% of its population of more than 3m living in slums and more than 60% in absolute poverty, East Africa's largest city seems to be destined for a long spell of misery.