KMT Water Research
The Global Water Benchmarking Study For Kenya: Water Resources Management
About This Study
Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) and Gatsby Africa (GA) undertook this study to capture examples of good practice from countries that have successfully transformed aspects of their water sector.
The purpose of the study is to provide a rich source of information for Kenyan water stakeholders to draw upon while developing strategies for strengthening Kenya’s water sector. The study will also inform KMT’s work and how we might bring new ideas and practical recommendations to our partnerships.
This study was undertaken between October 2020 and June 2021. Led by KMT and Gatsby, the study was supported by Aguaconsult, a leading international water consultancy with experience in Africa, South America and Asia. The project team included experts in urban and rural water service delivery and water resources management and called on additional experts with knowledge of the case study countries and specific themes such as sector financing.
KMT provided valuable input to the methodology and country selection led the engagement with sector stakeholders and donors and provided feedback and input into the country analysis and study reports.
Analytical framework used in the study
The framework used in this study considered the two main components, water service delivery and water resources management (WRM), as well as overarching governance that coordinates the two components and creates the enabling environment for the water sector as a whole. Important functions of the system, namely finance and data/ innovation, were also considered in the framework.
KMT would like to acknowledge the Kenyan water stakeholders for their involvement in the study, in particular for providing feedback on the specific issues to focus on and the country selection. This includes Kenya’s Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB), Water Resources Authority (WRA), Water Service Providers Association (WASPA), Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF) and Council of Governors (COG).
We thank Aguaconsult Ltd, the consultancy that undertook this study for KMT and the authors of this thematic report: Harold Lockwood and Dirk Schaefer.
Lastly, we wish to acknowledge Gatsby Africa, our partner and funder, who provided input into the study methodology and who continue to support our work in the water sector.
The study consists of 5 reports
3 thematic reports
2 country case studies
As part of Kenya Market Trust’s (KMT) ongoing mission to catalyse the transformation of the Kenyan water sector, it commissioned an international study of countries that have successfully transformed parts or aspects of their water sectors.
Examples of good-practice and lessons from what has worked elsewhere will, it is hoped, provide useful insights as to how Kenya can continue to strengthen its water sector.
Firstly, governance arrangements, both in terms of national intra-sectoral and intra-ministerial relations and the vertical integration between central and decentralised levels of government, particularly considering the strong devolution process in Kenya.
Secondly, experiences with investment planning undertaken in other countries particularly where these have been systematic in nature and looked at long-term costs required to sustain services, as well as the commensurate measures to generate financing, both from public sources through repayable financing as well as attracting private investments.
Lastly, examples where there have been successful innovations in the use of technologies and data production and – as importantly – the use of better data for improved decision making.
Governance and Decentralisation
It is now widely recognised that, as with inadequate water services, water resources management challenges are often primarily challenges of governance (UNDP, 2006; OECD, 2015). The need for improved governance around water resources arises in part from intrinsic features of the resource – including the multiplicity of values and interests, the non-alignment of hydrological and administrative boundaries, and the public good characteristics of water and associated market failures. Several pressures also increase the need for improved water governance to coordinate and adjudicate between users and policy objectives – including economic and population growth, ecological deterioration and climate change. Added to this, many countries have sought to decentralise water resource management functions to lower levels, with an intention to tailor policy and implementation to local contexts and enhance accountability and transparency. Alongside the pattern familiar from wider decentralisation – whereby responsibilities are often transferred without the required finance or powers to fulfil them – decentralisation of water resources management can multiply and aggravate challenges of coordination between hydrological and administrative boundaries (OECD, 2015).
Despite an array of good practice principles available (OECD, 2015; UNEP, 2018), it is important to recognise that water governance is an inherently political undertaking, and that emphasising technocratic functions such as coordination of water resource responsibilities and uses is unlikely to work, without sensitivity to power asymmetries, vested interests and other political economy considerations (Allen, 2003).
IT IS NOW WIDELY RECOGNISED THAT, WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES ARE OFTEN PRIMARILY CHALLENGES OF GOVERNANCE
Finance and Investment Planning
Despite several studies convincingly linking water resources management and economic growth (Brown and Lall, 2006; Grey and Sadoff, 2007; Sadoff et al. 2015), the sector faces numerous challenges attracting and coordinating investment. Key barriers include (OECD, 2016):
- High-sunk costs and long payback periods.
- Difficulty in evaluating and monetising the full range of risks and benefits, which makes it harder for investors to assess the risk-return profile of prospective investments.
- Politicisation of key economic instruments, for example, pricing of water or of externalities such as pollution of water resources.
For Kenya, the financing area of SDG indicator 6.5.1 is the lowest scoring in its 2017 and 2020 self-assessments, and the only area to show no overall progress. The 2020 questionnaire response highlights a number of challenges, including low disbursements for water resources infrastructure; insufficient allocations for WRM functions, both nationally and at basin level; low revenue from water use charges; and absence of ring-fencing of WRA’s revenues for WRM functions (GoK, 2020).
The WRA estimates that it, alone, faced a cumulative net financing gap of KES 6.7 billion in the period 2012/13-2016/17, between budgeted expenditure and disbursed funds from the public fiscus, plus contributions from external partners (WRA, 2020).
This chapter on financing and investment planning contains 3 examples of global good-practice as summarised below.
Technological Innovation, Research and Use of Data
Key Lessons to Consider for the Kenyan Water Sector
This section provides a summary of the key lessons and insights from the various examples set out in the preceding three chapters as a resource for Kenyan water sector stakeholders as well as other parties interested in water sector strengthening. For convenience these are numbered in alignment with the original section headings and sub-headings.