Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) has signed a £1.6 million ($2.3 million) agreement with Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) to promote improved access to water services for low-income consumers across Kenya.

WSUP will work with utilities, the regulator, private sector service providers and consumers to address barriers to improved water access for base of pyramid consumers, enabling more financially viable and sustainable services to be realised.

KMT is a Kenyan organisation that works in partnership with the private sector and government to unleash large-scale, sustainable market transformation by changing the underlying incentives, capacities and rules that shape how markets work. The transformation is aimed at making markets more inclusive, more competitive and more productive.

“Our partnership with KMT is based on our belief that there is a strong demand among the urban poor for better services and quality goods, as well as a demonstrated ability to pay for those services and goods,” said Kariuki Mugo, WSUP Kenya Country Manager.

“Low-income urban dwellers actually live in very high cost economies,” said Kariuki. “For instance, low-income urban dwellers without access to municipal water pay four to 100 times as much as their middle and upper class counterparts. This is the situation that Market-Led Approach for BoP Water Services (MABS) project intends to turn around.”

“KMT believes in the transformatory power of markets in delivering basic services to the bottom of pyramid, and acknowledges value-added through the partnership with WSUP in realisation of better water services in Kenya,” said Dr. Kevit Desai, Chair of KMT.

“Over the years, KMT has set a track-record in improving market competitiveness in various sectors in Kenya, and working with WSUP and other reputed partners heralds a new era of achieving the same in the water service sector,” said Paul Wanyaga, CEO of KMT.

The partnership will be implemented across Kisumu, Mombasa, Malindi, Nairobi, Naivasha and Nakuru, with the MABS project running until December 2018.

“We hope that this partnership will address a number of issues identified by WSUP and KMT,” said Neil Jeffery, CEO of WSUP. “These include supporting the creation of better legal and regulatory frameworks, working with informal businesses operating in the sector to enable them to become solid enterprises and enabling utilities to better understand and provide services to bottom of pyramid customers, through improved data collection and capacity building.”

WSUP started working in Kenya 10 years ago and since then has built a reputation as a leader in pro-poor water services management. It has excellent relationships with the national regulator, Ministry of Health and regional water and sewerage companies, and has also worked closely with private sector operators to help them develop businesses in the water sector.