Project Results: 

Kajiado sponge city

Creating guidelines for the concept of a sponge city

In the concept of sponge city, urban infrastructure and real estate development is used to give rainwater more time to sink into the ground or to store it for reuse (instead of creating gullies). This project aimed at elaborating guidelines for municipalities to incorporate rain water harvesting in infrastructure design, based on a pilot in Kajiado. The project used the outcomes of the hydrogeological research under the ISGEAG project and the contract asked for co-operation/shared learning with the Kitui Sponge Town project . The set of guidelines was a joint deliverable.

Key results

  • Guidelines to design a Sponge Town, based on joint writing workshops with the Kitui Sponge Town project.

  • Infiltration structures at two places in town, a recharge park, infiltration works at a football ground, 11 weirs in special recharge area (some works still in progress)

  • 8 proposals for implementation of Sponge City concept in other towns (up till now successful for 2 towns, in Indonesia and Uganda)

Tips for the future

  • Permanent presence on the ground of the lead partner is essential, especially in a challenging environment.

  • Be clear on the obligation of sharing deliverables.

  • Processes with regard to landscape and behaviour take up considerable time.

  • For proving a concept like Sponge City, a less diffuse area is recommendable, such as a housing development area (condominiums) or an industrial development area.

Potential for growth
There is no real business model yet for the Sponge City (such as a package). Several private operators show an interest in running a business from the created water sources. This concerns rooftop harvesting and sales (Mosque and market) and infiltration and water sales (existing well). Initial talks have started, the first supporting infrastructure has been built. Several Sponge City proposals were made of which 2 have been approved so far.

Project partners
RAIN Foundation, NIA, Acacia Water, AMREF, SASOL, MTTI

July 2017 – March 2019


Kajiado, Kenya


Kajiado Town faces a number of serious water challenges. Decreasing water availability and lowering water quality are threatening livelihoods in town. The experienced water shortages in Kajiado Town are largely due to the consequence of dropping groundwater levels. The Kex-report that came out last year marks that this is due to:
• Erratic weather conditions and climate change
• Over abstraction: water is used for domestic, irrigation and livestock purposes
• Decreased recharge: The rapid growth of Kajiado Town led to the increased hard surfaces such as roofs, roads, storm water drains and reduction of vegetation around town. Increase in hard surfaces negatively impacts groundwater recharge as storm water drains quickly without giving water time to sink into the soil.
To cover the demand, water is increasingly trucked in town from sources further away and the costs per unit of volume are increasing.

Project Plan

1.1 Small scale pilots implemented
1.2 Water mapping carried out
1.3 Hydrogeology and drainage patterns understood
1.4 Urban sanitation understood
1.5 Local social and governmental environment assessed
1.6 Methodology and technical knowledge assessment
2.1 Integration of data for planning and presentation
2.2 Strategic partnerships/MoAs and groups mobilized
2.3 Upscaling approach worked out (donor mapping and promotion material)
3.1 Capacity development for urban recharge technology
3.2a Water abstraction strategy
3.2b Water quality and sanitation strategy
3.3 Monitoring and Evaluation
3.4 Implementation
3.5 Communication

Target group

Kajiado urban poor


Research and development is an integral part of the project, as shown by one of the two outcomes: The sponge city model is known, applied promoted and brought to scale: proof of principle. Next to research and development, communication and capacity development will ensure the uptake of the proven principle. Moreover, as part of the Via Water approach, the implementing parties will be active members of the Via Water Learning Community. The implementing parties are a well balanced group of Kenyan and Dutch organizations, ensuring the buy-in of the project results.

All in all, the project envisages a holistic approach, combining different aspects of sustainability:
-Financial: Potential local investors will be approached;
-Institutional: The local public sector will be actively involved, and a business approach promoted;
-Environmental: The envisaged impact of the project is the proven concept and method of urban recharge (to counteract groundwater depletion);
-Technical: The core of the project is the technical enabling of urban retention and recharge;
-Social: The Kajiado urban poor are the principal target group.

Overview of Goals

develop a strong methodology to improve access to safe water supply for the urban poor using enhanced use of stormwater

Results and indicators

  • M&E framework operational
    • 1.2 2 ( target )
    • water mapping report with all boreholes, map of drainage patterns of storm drainage with estimates of volume
    • 1.3 2 ( target )
    • hydrogeological assessment, thematic maps indicating relevant features, such as drainage patterns, surface types and soil characteristics
    • 1.4 4 ( target )
    • report and mapping of current sanitation situation (baseline showing solid waste disposal methods, open defecation status, sludge and waste water discharge and household access to latrines), UCLTS protocols adopted, description of waste flows and environmental risk, advocacy meeting reports
    • 1.6 2 ( target )
    • potential solutions (technologies and methods) proposed and holistic approach to WASH ensuring prevention of WASH related diseases
    • 2.1 2 ( target )
    • holistic assessment and analysis of Kajiado town water use, opportunities for recharge and environmental flows and proposed solutions by RAIN, Acacia and NIA. This will both be delivered as report to Via Water and as a presentation to relevant stakeholders to introduce them to the programme
  • strategic development and planning
    • 1.1 3 ( target )
    • small water storage dam, planting of trees in storm gully, sand dams in Kajiado river
    • 1.5 2 ( target )
    • social analysis of water users, instigate formalization of relations with local government
    • 2.2 3 ( target )
    • local investors approached for solid and liquid waste management, relevant stakeholders aware and where possible agreements prepared (MoU with the county government ministries of environment and public health) by RAIN, NIA and AMREF
  • stakeholder engagement for local participation and upscaling
    • 2.3 3 ( target )
    • donor mapping and relations established and feedback on the proposal received. It is envisaged that the Northern partners will mostly undertake the activities foreseen, in close collaboration with the MetaMeta program
  • more finance made available
    • 3.3 4 ( target )
    • The monitoring will focus on the following aspects: environmental, social, technical, business
    • 3.5 3 ( target )
    • communication protocol in place fine-tuned with Via Water secretariat. Local stakeholders aware and informed and agreed with communication strategy. Target audiences outside the direct stakeholder group are informed about the program proceedings
  • integration of water harvesting with urban infrastructure
    • 3.1 2 ( target )
    • workshop where the program will be presented and capacity development of implementing organizations will be strengthened. This will be undertaken by RAIN, NIA, MTTI and SASOL. Where needed longer capacity development trajectories can be arranged, such as the capacity development of masons in building affordable roof water harvesting tanks at scale . Organizations developed capacity to reach implementation of different methods and techniques.
  • strategy for inclusive water use and operated
    • 3.2a 1 ( target )
    • water abstraction strategy with teh county government resulting in alternative sites with rechargeable water. These will be primarily the responsibility of RAIN, NIA and KEWASNET
  • increase in water quality and access in Kajiado town
    • 3.2b 3 ( target )
    • planning advice on water pollution of recharge and abstraction sites, UCLTS interventions to improve sanitation and reduce waste and routine water analysis to assess both physical and bacteriological (E.Coli) aspects for monitoring of water sources - to be undertaken by AMREF
    • 3.4 2 ( target )
    • Besides the river or gully based infrastructure such as weirs, ponds and plugs, methods will be propagated for the construction of roof water tanks and water infiltration at household level. This result will be primarily the responsibility of NIA, AMREF, SASOL, MTTI and RAIN.