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Kenyan slums dispense clean drinking water through ATMs

It's 100 times less expensive than what vendors charge.

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In many parts of Kenya's capital of Nairobi, clean water is difficult to come by. That often means taking your chances with dysentery from an impure source, or pay through the nose from a "water vendor." But the BBC reports that thanks to a partnership between the African nation and Danish water company Grundfos, that's about to change. The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage company has just opened four ATM-like kiosks that will dispense 20 liters of potable water for just half a Kenya shilling (about half a US penny). That's 100 times less expensive than what vendors charge for the same amount. Residents simply have to swipe a smart card and put a jug under the spigot, and the access card balances can be refilled either at the kiosk itself or via mobile phone.

The plan is not new -- it's actually been in use in rural Kenya for a while now -- but it's thought to be the first time such a distribution scheme has been tried in an urban city center. Grundfos hopes that this public-private partnership will eventually spread to other developing nations, eventually delivering water to the estimated 700 million people worldwide who don't have access.

[image credit: AP]

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