February 2021

ASSESSING THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON ACCESS TO WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE – Country Deep Dive Report – Kenya

In May 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) tasked the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project with assessing the effects of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services and products in USAID high priority and strategy-aligned countries. The assignment sought to characterize the current state of affairs and to forecast near-term trends (6–18 months) that could assist governments, donors and implementers prepare an informed response to the WASH-related impacts of the pandemic.

This report presents the detailed findings of the deep dive for Kenya.

The COVID-19 pandemic control measures instituted by the government of Kenya resulted in restrictions on mobility that were sustained for longer periods than other countries we investigated, likely serving to compound significant losses that the Kenyan economy suffered from major pandemic-related declines in both tourism and remittances. Respondents to our SMS surveys reported that COVID was devastating for their incomes, with almost half (47 percent) reporting losing their job and another 35 percent reporting earning less money. Among the 50 percent that ran a non-farm business, 42 percent closed their business. Kenyan water service providers (WSPs) were required by the government to provide tariff-free water to low-income areas (LIAs), including previously unserved areas, and to reconnect disconnected customers. This intervention has caused considerable financial pressure on WSPs.

Our topline findings, by subsector, are as follows:

WATER SUPPLY – CURRENT STATUS

1) Some 38 percent of Kenyans report pandemic-linked difficulties in drinking water access, a proportion comparable to other USAID high priority and strategy-aligned countries we investigated.

2) Reported losses in piped service in Kenya among both urban and rural respondents are the highest we observed across the countries we analyzed.

3) Both large and small water service providers have suffered major losses due to tariff holidays and elevated production associated with both free provision and emergency water provision measures.

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In collaboration with USAID, Tetra Tech, FSG and Iris Group.

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