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Water & Sanitation

Water supply and sanitation in Kenya is characterized by low levels of access, in particular in urban slums and in rural areas, as well as poor service quality in the form of intermittent water supply.

Only 9 out of 55 water service providers in Kenya provide continuous water supply. Seasonal and regional water scarcity exacerbates the difficulty to improve water supply.

The Kenyan water sector underwent far-reaching reforms through the Water Act No. 8 of 2002. Previously service provision had been the responsibility of a single National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation as well as of a few local utilities established since 1996. After the passage of the act service provision was gradually decentralized to 117 Water Service Providers (WSPs). These are linked to 8 regional Water Services Boards (WSBs) in charge of asset management through Service Provision Agreements (SPAs). The Act also created a national regulatory board (WASREB) that carries out performance benchmarking and is in charge of approving SPAs and tariff adjustments. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is in charge of policies for water supply and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation is in charge of policies for sanitation.

Although urban water tariffs are high by regional standards (US$0.46 per m3 on average in 2007)[4] the level of cost recovery is low due to a high level of non-revenue water (average of 47%) [8] and high costs. Costs are high due to the need to tap distant water sources (e.g. Mombasa is supplied from a source located 220 km from the city) and due to high levels of staffing (11 workers per 1000 connections or more than twice the sector benchmark). Investment in the sector increased fivefold from US$55m in 2004-05 to almost US$300m in 2008-09. 58% of this amount was financed by the government with its own resources, 31% by external donors and 11% was self-financed by utilities.
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Collecting reliable data on the Kenyan water and sanitation sector is difficult because reporting is often incomplete and different definitions are being used. Two sources of nation-wide representative information are censuses carried out every ten years, with the latest one carried out in August 2009, and Demographic and Health Surveys carried out every five years by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. The data thus collected are analyzed by the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation of WHO and UNICEF to assess progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.[11] These data only assess the availability of water and sanitation infrastructure. They do not assess whether water is safe to drink, sufficient in quantity, continuously available or affordable.

Another important source of information is the annual "impact report" published by the water regulatory agency WASREB since 2008. Through this report much more detailed information is publicly available today on many water service providers than in the past and than in many other countries. However, information in the report is not complete. Out of 118 registered Water Service Providers only 55 submitted complete information for the 2009 report and 48 submitted no information at all. The population in the service area of the 55 reporting WSPs (46 urban and 9 rural) is estimated at 9.5 million or less than one third of Kenyans. The report does not claim that its figures are representative for the entire country. However, unlike the census and survey data quoted by the JMP, the impact report does take into consideration water quantity, quality, distance, cost, and waiting time in its definition of what the report calls "weighted access".
[edit] Access

Water supply. Estimates from the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) show that in 2008 59% of Kenyans (83% in urban areas and 52% in rural areas) had access to improved drinking water sources. 19% of Kenyans (44% in urban areas and 12% in rural areas) are reported as having access to piped water through a house or yard connection. According to the JMP estimates, access to improved water sources in urban areas decreased from 91% in 1990 to 83% in 2008. In rural areas, however, access increased from 32% to 52% during the same period. According to a different definition called "weighted access" (see above), the 2009 Impact Report estimates that in 2006-2007 only 37% of Kenyans had access to sufficient and safe drinking water close to their homes at an affordable price.[15] Significant regional differences in access were reported: the highest level was registered in the area served by Tetu Aberdare Water and Sanitation Company (72%) whereas the lowest was recorded in Muthambi in Meru South District (4%). In the capital Nairobi access for the same period was reported at 35%, as opposed to a less realistic figure of 46% reported for 2005-2006.

The poor, in particular women and girls, spend a significant amount of time fetching water in both rural and urban areas. For example, the 2007 Citizen Report Card survey showed that users of water kiosks in cities fetch water 4-6 times per day. In Kisumu, this meant that a poor household spent 112 minutes per day to fetch water at normal times, and as much as 200 minutes per day during times of scarcity.
Lack of access to basic sanitation:Example of Kibera, Nairobi

Sanitation. Countrywide estimates for 2008 by the JMP indicate that 31% (27% of urban and 32% of rural) Kenyans had access to private improved sanitation. In urban areas an additional 51% of the population used shared latrines. In rural areas, open defecation was estimated to be still practised by 18% of the population.[1][17] In 2006-2007 it was reported that half of the Kenyan population within the service area of 55 WSPs had access to improved sanitation facilities (this definition includes flush, pour flush toilets connected to a piped system, septic tanks, VIP latrines and pit latrines). In Nairobi, sanitation coverage was about 23% in 2006-2007. The Kenyan Integrated Household Budget Survey of 2006 reported a much higher sanitation coverage 84%, including shared latrines and shallow pit latrines.[18]
[edit] Service quality

The quality of service of WSPs is closely monitored by the Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) with the aim of promoting comparative competition and performance improvements. Some of the most important indicators of service quality are water quality, continuity of water supply and wastewater treatment.

Water quality. As of March 2010, the assessment of water quality in Kenya was based on two basic indicators. The first indicator provides information on the percentage of drinking water quality tests carried out by Water Service Providers: on average about 78% of the water supplied for drinking use was tested in 2006-2007. The second indicator measures the level of compliance with residual chlorine standards: the latest figure is about 88%. WASREB published official Drinking Water Guidelines, so it is expected that future Impact Reports will provide more accurate data.[3] A citizens' report carried out in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu in 2007 provides information about customers' perception of water quality: around 70% of households using water from connections to the mains said they found the taste and smell of water acceptable, and that the water was clear. Even so, the vast majority of respondents treat water prior to consumption, which shows continuing uncertainty about its quality.[19]
In Kisumu, which receives its water from nearby Lake Victoria, over 40% of citizens report scarcity of drinking water

Continuity of supply. The Impact Report provides data on continuity of water supply for 55 Water Service Providers in 2006-2007, weighted for distance, waiting time and affordability. The average number of service hours that Kenyan water utilities provide is 14 hours. Only in seven WSPs water supply is continuous (Nyeri, Othaya, Eldoret, Malindi, Meru, Tuuru and Tachaasis). In Nairobi water is provided on average for 16 hours a day and in Mombasa for 6 hours. Nonetheless, instances of water scarcity (defined as more than five days without or with insufficient water supply) still occur in Kenya. In 2006 in Kisumu over 40% of households (both poor and non poor) connected to water mains reported scarcity. The greatest difference between the poor and non poor was recorded in Nairobi, where poor households were more than twice as likely to say they experienced scarcity. A higher percentage of kiosk users reported scarcity than households with mains connections, suggesting that in times of scarcity kiosks are less likely to receive water than domestic connections.

Wastewater treatment. According to an assessment report carried out in 2009, there are 43 sewerage systems in Kenya and waste water treatment plants in 15 towns (total population served: 900,000 inhabitants). The operation capacity of these wastewater treatment plants is estimated at around 16% of design capacity. The main reasons for this inefficiency are: inadequate operation and maintenance and low connection rate to sewers. In Kenya, the estimated connection rate is 19% (12% according to another report). Of the wastewater that enters the sewer network, only about 60% reaches the treatment plants.[18] The most common solution used for wastewater treatment in Kenya are waste stabilisation ponds. One of them is the Dandora Waste Stabilisation Pond System which treats the industrial and domestic sewage from the city of Nairobi and is the largest pond system in Africa. Mixing industrial effluent and domestic sewage in mixed sewer system, however, often causes poor performance in Kenyan pond treatment systems. The Citizen Report Card moreover indicates that septic tanks are often used for the disposal of wastewater from flush toilets in Mombasa. Pit latrine users from Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa indicated that some wastewater empties into storm sewers, soak-aways and cess pits designed for kitchen waste, thus causing environmental pollution. In 2001 a pollution incident occurred in the town of Embu. Raw sewage was discharged from sewage treatment works into a nearby river and caused the death of 28 people who used the water downstream for domestic purposes.
Water resources
The Kerio River in the Rift Valley during dry season.

The renewable freshwater resources of Kenya are estimated at 20.2 km3 per year, which corresponds to 647 m3 per capita and year. The total yearly water withdrawal is estimated to be over 2.7 km3, or less than 14% of resources. However, water resources availability varies significantly in time and between regions. Most parts of the country have two rainy seasons. The long rains are typically from March to May while short rains are typically from October to November.[26] In addition, the country experiences every three to four years droughts and floods, which affect a large number of the population. The latest severe drought was from 2007 to the end of 2009, which had impacts on all sectors of the economy. The average annual rainfall is 630 mm, but it varies between less than 200 mm in northern Kenya to over 1,800 mm on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
The Kerio River flowing after heavy spring rainstorms in the area, illustrating the stark difference in water availability between the dry and wet season.

Kenya is divided into five drainage basins. The Lake Victoria Basin Drainage area system in Western Kenya is part of the Nile River Basin. The closed Rift Valley Inland Drainage system includes a number of rivers and lakes, including large freshwater lakes such as Lake Turkana, Lake Baringo and Lake Naivasha, rivers such as the Kerio River, as well as a number of salt lakes. The Athi Drainage system, the Tana Drainage system and the Ewaso Ng'iro North Drainage system all flow towards the Indian Ocean. The water distribution in the basins is highly uneven with the highest water availability in the Lake Victoria Basin (more than 50%) and the lowest in the Athi Drainage system. Only the Tana and Lake Victoria Basins, have surplus water resources while the three other basins face deficits.

The capital city Nairobi receives its water resources from two drainage systems: The oldest sources, the Kikuyu Springs (used since 1906) and the Ruiru Dam (since 1938) are located in the Athi River Basin. The Sasumua Dam, the Ndakaini-Thika Dam (since 1996) and Chania-B Dam supply Nairobi through interbasin transfer from the Tana River drainage area. About 20% of the supply is from ground water resources which corresponds to around 60.000 to 70.000 m3 per day.[28] Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city, serves its water demand through the Marere Water Works in the south-west, the Baricho Intake at the lower Athi River and from Mzima Springs, upper Athi River, through a 220 km pipeline to the city.

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