This paper examines the politics and the underlying discourses of water provisioning and how residents of Korogocho and Viwandani slum settlements in Nairobi city cope with challenges relating to water access. We use qualitative data from 36 focus group discussions conducted in the two slums to unravel discourses regarding water provisioning in the rapidly growing slum settlements in African cities. Results show that the problems concerning water provisioning within Nairobi slums are less about water scarcity and more about unequal distribution and the marginalisation of slum areas in development plans. Poor water management, lack of equity-based policies and programmes, and other slum-specific features such as land-tenure systems and insecurity exacerbate water-supply problems within slum areas. It is hard to see how water supply in these communities can improve without the direct and active involvement of the government in infrastructural development and oversight of the water-supply actors. Innovative public-private partnerships in water provision and the harnessing of existing community efforts to improve the water supply would go a long way towards improving the water supply to the rapidly growing urban poor population in Africa.