Water sector development in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL), especially in Northern Kenya, has been lagging behind as compared to other regions in Kenya. This is partly blamed on the high poverty index of about 70%, which has been pushing the regional governments to focus on other priority/productive sectors. This has been depicted in the budget allocations, where little amounts are set aside for provision of basic services (Green Growth & Employment Program – WSTF 2016). Given, ASAL areas have over 20% of current national population, it is therefore necessary to pay closer attention to improving basic service delivery for the growing population in these areas.
In recognition of the above, KMT and its implementing partners in the water sector (SNV and WSUP) are providing technical assistance to County water departments and utilities in the region to improve access to clean and safe drinking water, currently standing at 49%. We also strengthen institutional set up for these departments and utilities for effective delivery.
Two of the early beneficiaries of this programme are Marsabit and Wajir Counties.
Establishment of Marsabit Water and Sewerage Company
For a long time, residents in Marsabit county, like their counterparts in Wajir, have told the sob story of life without adequate water as their main water source is private boreholes which are an expensive source for the community. However, this will soon be a thing of the past following the county government’s move to privatize water services in a bid to instill efficiency in the management of the sector.
Through private partnership, KMT through SNV is assisting the department of water to form a company that would be entrusted with the management of water services in the county.
“SNV is assisting us in the creation of the Marsabit Water and Sewerage Company (MARWASCO),” said Marsabit Hawo Abdullahi, Marsabit County CEC for Water.
Ms. Abdullahi said the department had entered into an agreement with the NGO under the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) Programme to ensure increased access to water for both human and livestock use.
The formation of the new water company is also a pre-condition to Africa Development Bank injection of KES. 2 Billion, under Kenya Towns Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Program.
Water for Wajir County
KMT through SNV is supporting Wajir Water and Sanitation Company (WAWASCO) in Wajir County to develop a 5 year Strategic and Business Plan (2017-2022). This plan will clearly set out overall goals for the company and plans to achieve them. This is anticipated to formalize the organizational management process to be used to analyze the company’s current situation, setting priorities, focusing resources and maintaining the organization’s competitive advantage in the region. This process has also been extended to the new water company in Marsabit County.
Extending to Isiolo County
Over and above the work we are doing in Marsabit and Wajir counties, we are now starting to support selected projects in Isiolo County. Modalities of elevating status of Merti Community Water project to a small rural utility has commenced. This is envisaged to help in attracting external financing in addition to instilling professionalism with an overall goal of improving services to the locals. Through this initiatives, KMT is hoping to improve coverage to under-served and extending services to un-served in ASAL regions.
The intention for KMT and SNV in Northern Kenya is to build the institutional capacity for water utilities and departments to attract funding from government and development partners so as to increase service delivery. We hope to see these utilities offer services that are reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly.