Water supply and sanitation in Kenya is characterized by low levels of access to water and sanitation, in particular in urban slums and rural areas, as well as poor service quality in the form of intermittent water supply.
Seasonal and regional water scarcity exacerbates the difficulty to improve water supply.
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation remains in charge of policies for water supply, while the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation is in charge of policies for sanitation.
Although urban water tariffs are high by regional standards sh 60 ($0.60 per m3 on average in 2014), these tariffs only allow the recovery of operating costs, but not the recovery of capital costs.
Full cost recovery is not achieved due to various reasons, including a high level of non-revenue water (an average of 42%).
The government has invested close to Sh 1.62 billion to upscale water access to vulnerable groups in targeted areas in the advent of covid-19.
Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the money has been used to sink an additional 193 boreholes in target areas particularly in the informal settlements in Nairobi.
“These boreholes have increased water to the target areas by 1,500 cubic meters per day benefiting 600,000 people”, said the CS when she was flagging off Water Treatment Chemicals for 74 Water Service Providers (WSPs) from across the country.
The Water Chemicals are part of a Government interventionary measure to combat the spread of Covid-19 through the supply of subsidized, clean and adequate water in towns, markets, police stations and hospitals in addition to the provision of hand-washing facilities.
The reason for Sh 200 million allocations to the Water Trust Fund to procure water treatment chemicals to support the WSPs from across the country. Thirty-four of the WSPs were represented at the ceremony.
Kabusare Water Supply Project implemented by LVSWWDA and funded from GoK in the financial year 2018/2019 to implement ‘GoK Priority Projects Program’.
Part of the funding has been used to implement Kabusare High School Water Supply Project in Kabusare Sub-location, Ndaraweta Location, Bomet Central Sub-county, Bomet County. The project is to benefit 2,000 people at a total cost of Ksh. 5.3 Million.
Other ongoing projects include Bomet-Longisa-Mulot Water Supply and Sanitation Project at a total cost of Ksh. 1.4 Billion.
The Dongo Kundu Water Supply Project (Phase 1) In Mombasa, Mwache Dam Water Supply Project in Kwale, the Mzima Head Works and Spring in Taita Taveta and the Oloitoktok Water Supply and Sewerage Project in Kajiado County.
Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki told respective contractors undertaking the construction of various water projects across the country to stick to the agreed deadlines in preparation for the commissioning of completed projects in coming months, starting December 2020.
“Extension of time-lines and delays must stop. Those over-whelmed by the work should seek to sub-contract some of the work,” said the CS adding that her team will continue visiting other parts of the country to inspect more projects and ensure adherence to deadlines.
The Sh 175 million Dongo Kundu Water Supply Project was meant to be completed by November 2020, solving perennial water problems for area residents who are forced to drink salty bore-hole water, the project will supply adequate supplies to the Special Economic Zone.
Other projects under implementation in the area are the Kajiado Rural Water Supply Project that entails the sinking of 50 boreholes, the Amboseli Water Supply Project and the Olooloitikosh-Kitengela-Kajiado Watwr Supply and Seewrage Project.
Water from the multi-billion Thwake Multipurpose Dam will be a critical element and a big game-changer to the development of the ongoing Konza Technopolis City in Makueni County.
The project which is jointly funded by the Government of Kenya and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Principal Secretary, State Department of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Jerome Ochieng, said availability of clean, efficient and reliable water from Thwake Multipurpose Water Development Program will be a big boost to Konza Technopolis City, currently under development.
“Efficient, clean and reliable water from Thwake Multipurpose Dam will be a key element that will ensure Konza dream is realized. As part of a multi-agency approach within the national government, we as Konza City team came to agree with the technical team over here on logistics and we are looking forward to getting the much-needed water from Thwake Multipurpose Dam. We are also putting our request to the County Government of Makueni on the need for collaboration and prudent supply of efficient, reliable and clean water for Konza,” said the PS during a tour of the project.
The up scaling the provision of sanitation services from 26-40 per cent in the next two years by the ministry.
The country aims at up-scaling the provision of sanitation services from the 26-40 per cent by the end of 2020, Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said.
The CS said despite the existence of a sizeable number of private sector players in the space of WASH, their operations needed proper co-ordination through mapping and identification of opportunities and the development of a proper framework to guide the operations of these private sector players.
Among the key achievements in that collaboration are weekly virtual WASH Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) coordination programs with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation.
The collaboration has also led to the development of an online COVID-19 Information Management platform in addition to reaching 180,000 people with handwashing services (HWS) in public places in 19 sites of Nairobi’s informal settlements.
Within the framework of the collaboration, 15,000 vulnerable households (75,000 people) in these informal settlements received soap supplies for 6 months besides having access to new water connections.
Unicef, with the recommendations of the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation has also secured sh 1 billion projects from the Government of Japan targeting at supporting Kenya to achieve the Universal Health Coverage by accelerating the elimination of Open Defecation and facilitating access to Basic Sanitation in communities and schools. This project runs for one year from June 2020.
Ongoing infrastructure projects to increase water access to 80 per cent in three years.
CS Sicily Kariuki said the government is currently implementing 650 water projects across the country, all at different levels of completion.
She said once the country achieves 80 per cent water coverage by 2022, the government will then embark at bridging the remaining 20 per cent water coverage by 2030.
The CS said the government plans to expand the mandate of the Kenya Water Institute (KEWI) to make the training facility more responsive to the needs of the Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Sector.
She added that the objective of the Ministry is to upgrade the National Water Research function at the institute and strengthen consultancy and advisory services to meet the growing needs of the water sector.
“To ensure that KEWI realizes its mandate, my ministry will continuously offer support to upgrade its infrastructural development to meet the standards of a Centre of Excellence”, said the CS.
Evidence suggests that improving service levels towards safely managed drinking-water or sanitation such as regulated piped water or connections to sewers with wastewater treatment can dramatically improve health by reducing diarrhoeal disease deaths.