Publication: Bursting Pipes and Broken Dreams – On Ruination and Reappropriation of Large-Scale Water Infrastructure in Baringo County, Kenya

By David Greven, Project C02 “Energy Futures”


In the course of Kenya’s Vision 2030 development plan, the Kenyan Northern Rift Valley recently became the playground for new stakeholders, interests and speculations. Large-scale development projects, such as the geothermal exploration in Tiaty East sub-county, is one of them and is described as game-changer in a
formerly marginalized area. This article explores the case of Mt. Paka, a dormant volcano, where the Kenyan Geothermal Development Company (GDC) recently finished their exploratory drillings and established a road and water infrastructure for the geothermal project and the adjacent communities. Drawing on ethnographic research, this contribution examines the dynamic processes of ruination, reappropriation and negotiation along the newly built water infrastructure. While GDC is constantly trying to counter the ruination of pipelines with maintenance and retrofitting, local communities utilize leakages along the infrastructure, maintaining it in its ruined state to satisfy their own needs. This study highlights how the water infrastructure at Mt. Paka materializes in unexpected ways and shows its transformative potential in two directions: the ruination and the reappropriation of it.


Greven, D. 2023. Bursting pipes and broken dreams: on ruination and reappropriation of large-scale water infrastructure in Baringo County, Kenya, Journal of Eastern African StudiesFull Text

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