Kenya Institutional Framework for Water Supply
Over the past decade, the Republic of Kenya in East Africa has made significant political and economic reforms that have contributed to sustained economic growth, social development, and political stability gains. Despite this progress, however, access to piped water remains low, reaching only 33% of the population (60% in urban and 22% in rural areas).
Additionally, as a water-scarce country, with one of the lowest freshwater replenishment rates in the world (647 m3 per capita, which is below the global benchmark of 1,000 m3 per capita) and approximately 80% of land mass classified as arid and semi-arid Kenya has uneven availability of water in different parts of the country, as well as variable rainfall that leads to frequent droughts and flooding.
The enactment of the Water Act 2002 established water sector reforms whose purpose was to minimize duplication of roles among the various institutions and enhance efficiency. Subsequently, Kenya passed a new constitution in 2010, which included the devolution of water service provision mandates from national agencies to county governments.
Responsibilities for the management and regulation of water resources remained at the national level, and the Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation (MoWSI) remained the sector lead with respect to legislation, policy, and strategy. The Water Tribunal was mandated to hear and determine any dispute concerning water resources or water services. The Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) was entrusted with the regulation of Water Service Providers (WSPs) whilst protecting the interest and rights of customers in the provision of water services. The National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority was mandated to develop water harvesting and storage programs on behalf of the national government.
The Water Sector Trust Fund was mandated to provide conditional and unconditional 2 Kenya Institutional Framework for Water Supply grants to counties, manage the Equalization Fund, and assist in financing the development and management of water services in marginalized and underserved areas. At the county level, the Water Works Development Authority is responsible for the development, maintenance, and management of national public waterworks and for the provision of technical services and capacity building to county governments and WSPs within the area of their jurisdiction. WSPs are responsible for water service provision within their licensed area.
Since 2000, the Kenyan government and development partners have significantly increased overall spending on water. Kenya’s National Water Master Plan 2030, which was launched in 2014, estimated that $14 billion in investment in the water supply was needed over the next 15 years. To increase progress toward the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for water, a sharp increase in the mobilization of new resources will be required.