UN-HABITAT and the embassy of Malta this week opened a new water supply and treatment plant to provide clean, affordable drinking water for some 4,000 people living in an informal settlement not far from the agency's global headquarters.

Water for Kenya slum residentsUntil the plant was opened, the Huruma community had drawn their water supplies from a pipeline running through a forest adjacent to the UN Africa headquarters.

"This project showcases affordable and sustainable technology and demonstrates that modest investments can have a significant impact," said Maltese Ambassador Gianfranco Cicogna. The packaged water treatment facility provides over 3,000 litres of safe drinking water per hour and is locally manufactured.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Athi Water Services Board, Malaquen Milgo said access to safe water is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya where water is scarce. "This means that we must all work together to develop a master plan that will secure future supplies and ensure equity in the provision of this critical resource," he said.

The Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) will supervise management of the facility by the Huruma Vision Group, a community based organization. The Huruma vision group generates revenue to meet the operations and maintenance costs of the facility by selling water to the local community at KSH. 1.50 for 20 litres.

Mr. Bert Diphoorn, Director of UN-HABITAT's Financing Division, said that while advocacy efforts are important in ensuring that safe water for all becomes a reality, it remained imperative to demonstrate that local partnerships can make a difference. However, the technology options offered had to be sustainable and affordable.

The water facility provided through funding from Malta, local residents and UN-HABITAT.