Kenya is one of the most unequal countries in the world.
A rapidly growing urban population has led to overcrowded informal settlements where residents have little access to water and sanitation services. Children living in these settlements in Nairobi are more than twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday than those living in other areas of the city.
Nearly two thirds of urban residents have no access to improved sanitation, and access to water has actually dropped over the last 15 years. Over half of the existing toilets in Nakuru are pit latrines, most of which are shared. Poor conditions like these directly impact on the health, safety and dignity of people living in these communities.
What are we doing to help?
We have worked in Kenya since 2006, forming partnerships with service providers, local governments and other stakeholders to create affordable and sustainable water and sanitation services for low-income urban communities.
Where we work in Kenya
We’ve supported the Nairobi water utility’s Informal Settlements Department since its formation in 2008, helping hundreds of thousands of low-income customers access improved water services. We’ve also helped include an ambitious strategy, key performance indicators and budget into the department’s five-year business plan and it has now been elevated to a full commercial region with over 200 employees.
In Naivasha, we turned a number of informal, unregulated borehole water suppliers into a regulated network system so that customers can get low-cost, safe water close to their homes. This involved investment in infrastructure and brokering contractual relationships between the utility and borehole owners, and the utility and the system operators.
We’re increasing the capacity of Mombasa’s utility to manage water and sanitation services for low-income residents. This work resulted in the formation of a low-income customers department in 2014, supporting the transformation of the utility’s business model. We also created a policy to make connection fees more affordable for low-income customers, and helped the utility to extend the water network and promote uptake of services in low-income communities.
The delivery of new and improved toilets in Nakuru will benefit 28,000 low-income people. Following the devolution of many government functions in Kenya to the counties, we are helping Nakuru County build its capacity to deliver its responsibilities. This includes developing appropriate legal structures and supporting the work of Environmental Health Officers.
We’re working with the public sector and a private sector operator In Kisumu to develop a new legal and hygienic pit-emptying service and have faecal waste safely treated. We’re also engaging with government and private sector stakeholders to develop standard operating procedures, and providing training on these procedures. This will help operators deliver safe services and the county government enforce this service provision.
Key activities in Kenya
Influencing the regulatory environment
We work with the Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB), and have developed a key performance indicator to encourage utilities to improve services for low-income customers. In 2016 and 2017 we helped WASREB run a series of workshops which enabled 40 utilities understand how they can meet the key performance indicators, and we continue to support this process. Our work has led to WASREB redesigning its information system so it can improve its tracking of how well utilities are serving low-income communities.
Supporting investment into the water and sanitation sector
We’ve supported the development of the 2014-2019 business plan and resource strategy for Water Sector Trust Fund, a government-owned investment fund aimed at supporting low-income communities. We help formalise how it invests in Kenya utilities, and to become more investment friendly, particularly to international funders.
Connections from major infrastructure into low-income communities
We work with Kenyan utilities to help make sure investment from international financial institutions has the most effective impact on connections to low-income customers. Getting water and sewerage connections into low-income communities is extremely challenging. Major city-wide investment programmes often focus on major infrastructure, so we’ve used our expertise in this area to ensure connections are extended from major infrastructure to low-income areas in Kenyan cities. We’re also working alongside World Bank-funded programmes in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru to achieve this change.
WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative is being implemented in Kenya in partnership with WASREB and the Ministry of Health. Supported by UK government aid, the programme aims to generate research that delivers sanitation policy change in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Kenya.
To find out how you can support our work in Kenya, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0)20 7822 1867.