Kenya needs Sh1.8 trillion to achieve universal water and sanitation access, says CS Njeru

Water, Sanitation and Irrigation CS Zachariah Njeru. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Kenya requires Sh1.8 trillion to achieve universal access to water and sanitation, according to Water Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru.

The country has low water service levels, with only 2.6 million households out of 12.5 million having access to piped water in their yard. The government is planning to bridge the financing gap and address diminishing water resources by constructing large dams and embracing the Public Private Partnership (PPP) funding model.

Njeru told the Senate Land, Environment and Natural Resources Committee that the country is classified as one of the water-scarce countries with per capita annual renewal freshwater of 452m3 per person per year.

He said that the National Water and Sanitation Investment and Financing Plan (NAWASIP) developed in 2022 estimates that Sh 995 billion is required for access to water countrywide.

The government is targeting to implement 100 large dams through the PPP financing model, but the current Water Act 2016 does not have a provision for the model.

Njeru said that the Water Amendment Bill 2023 was conceived after consultation with the Public Private Partnership Unit of the National Treasury and the Attorney General's office to align the Water Act no 43 of 2016 and also on board the PPP funding option to the water sector.

The proposed amendments include interpretation provisions which have since defined Contracting Authority in the Water Sector by lifting the definition from the Public-Private Partnerships Act 2021 and placing it in the Water Act 2016.

Another important definition introduced as an amendment in the Water Act is the ‘Water Service Provider’ which now ‘means a company, agency, authority, state corporation, public benefits organization or any other person providing water services in accordance with a license issued by the regulatory board for the service areas defined by the license.

Njeru assured the committee that the proposed Water Act amendments ensured that measures to bring onboard Public Private Partnership were developed by the Ministry of Water together with the relevant Water sector institutions, National Treasury and Office of the Attorney General.

He said that this is an effort by his Ministry to support the implementation of the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) by bringing on board a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) funding framework, particularly for large capital projects in the water sector.

Njeru said that President William Ruto since ascending to leadership of Kenya has always emphasized that the Government will upscale investment in sustainable water-related infrastructure which will ensure that the country is water-secure to save lives and improve people’s health.

“In his first State of the Nation Address to both Houses of Parliament in September 2022, the President emphasized the need for a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) funding framework, particularly for large capital projects in the Water Sector,” said Njeru.