World Bank gives Kenya Sh1.2b to enhance water and sanitation access

World Bank country director for Kenya Diariétou Gaye

Kenyans living in areas without water connections stand to benefit from a Sh1.2 billion World Bank fund meant to provide running water to low income households and improve water supply in outlying counties.

This comes after the bank together with the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) and the Kenya government signed a grant agreement approving $11.8 million (Sh1.07b) in funding for water and sanitation in low-income urban areas.

The project is targeted to reach 30,000 low-income urban households – or 150,000 residents. Service providers that provide water and sanitation projects for low-income residents will receive money from the fund, which will be disbursed through selected commercial banks in the country.

“This is a significant step toward bringing more water and sanitation services to the poor, and demonstrates the Kenyan government’s confidence in the output-based approach, using resources from the public and private sectors,” said Diariétou Gaye, World Bank country director for Kenya.

The project is facilitated with funding from the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida), and will be managed by the Water Services Trust Fund of Kenya (WSTF). It will help water service providers access loan financing from commercial banks to invest in water and sanitation sub-projects, with subsidies covering up to 60 per cent of the cost of providing services to low-income households.

 Service providers will, however, need to prove that they have executed the water and sanitation projects to the fullest and that residents have been connected to the amenities before they can receive any disbursements from the fund.

Outlying counties

According to CEO Ismail Fahmy Shaiye, the new fund will go a long way in facilitating the improvement of water supply in Kenya’s outlying counties. “We look forward to working with the World Bank and the Government of Sweden as development partners in this innovative financing scheme to bridge the public funding gap. Together and within the framework of devolved structures in our counties we can work toward improving the lives of under-served communities,” he said.

Nairobi residents, however, will be locked out of the project since the county has been the recipient of similar grants in the recent past. This is a blow for the city’s four million residents who are already facing an upward revision of water tariffs in the next few months as the Government struggles to raise funds for expanding the city’s dilapidated water infrastructure.

The Athi River Services Board, (AWSB) last week announced that it would introduce a new component in water tariff pricing to help raise money for infrastructural development and to improve its service delivery.

It proposed an increased block tariff (IBT) structure with a built in life line tariff component of Sh204 per month for water consumption of up to 6000 litres per month for piped connections.

In the new system, water vendors will further be expected to pay an extra shilling for each 20 litre container of water they sell, a levy that will most likely be passed down to the consumers who are often from the low-income segment.

Water scarcity

The new tariffs adjustments, which have been proposed to the Water Services Regulatory Board are expected to take effect over a three year period beginning this year and running through to 2018. The Government is, however, upbeat that the problem of water scarcity in Nairobi will soon be a thing of the past.

It has already embarked on the Sh6.8 billion pipeline construction project by the AWSB expected to improve water supply for Nairobi, Kiambu and Muranga counties within the next two years.