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SNV and WaterFund champion for rural water resilience in arid areas

SNV Kenya's Country Director Jeen Kootstra during the validation workshop at a Nairobi hotel on February 26, 2021. [Photo, Courtesy]

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people globally, an alarming figure that is projected to rise as temperatures do. Although 2.1 billion people have improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling drinking water supplies are affecting every continent.

A water mapping exercise conducted by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation – a not-for-profit international development organisation helping poor communities raise incomes and access basic services-  in 2014 revealed that almost 1/3 of rural water systems are dysfunctional at any given time and 2/3 of rural water systems malfunction within 3-5 years post-construction.

As a result, more and more countries are experiencing water stress, and increasing drought and desertification is already worsening these trends. It is projected that at least one in four people will suffer recurring water shortages by 2050.

Access to adequate and quality water is anchored in the Kenyan Constitution (2010), and a prominent factor in the Common Programme Framework (CPF) that operationalises Kenya’s Ending Drought Emergencies’ (EDE) strategy.

The EDE Strategy is the government’s commitment to end the worst of the suffering caused by drought by 2022. The EDE-CPF was developed jointly between the Government and its development partners and focuses on the 23 most drought-prone counties in Kenya. Collectively these are known as the Arid and Semi-arid Lands or ASAL counties.

On this measure, The European Union Delegation to Kenya partnered with the National Government to fund the End Drought Emergencies: Climate Proofed Infrastructure for Improved Water Supply and Sanitation in ASALs (EDE-CPIRA) program.

In a stakeholder’s dialogue forum convened by the EDE-CPIRA implementing partners - SNV and the WaterFund - brought together stakeholders that included representatives from the Ministry of Water Sanitation and Irrigation, the regulator, Water Services Regulatory Board, and local private sector firms.

The eight target county governments are Baringo, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kitui, Mandera, Samburu, Taita-Taveta and West Pokot.

The eight county ministers also committed to supporting the rural water systems which were assessed to be malfunctioning due to mismanagement and lack of funds.

Under the EDE-CPIRA program, the Water Sector Trust Fund has been awarded a Euro 17,650,000 (Ksh 2 Billion) grant by the Government of Kenya and the European Union to implement two key result area areas - namely: Result 1: Communities in ASAL areas have improved access to water supply and sanitation services; Result2: Sustainable management of water resources in ASALs is improved.

WaterFund is a state corporation under the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, with the mandate to provide conditional and unconditional grants to the Counties, thanked the European Union for their support, and is now calling for more public-private sector partnerships and collaboration to solve the water challenges in the country.

WaterFund Chief Executive Officer, Ismail Shaiye said for the Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved, deliberate efforts and huge investments need to be made.

“For us to achieve the SDGs, we need to invest KSh. 100 Billion Kenya Shillings every financial year in the water sector. We are currently investing KSh. 70 billion, meaning that there is a deficit of KSh. 30 billion.

This requires more partnerships with the private sector to cover this deficit,” he said while speaking at the stakeholder’s workshop.

Mr. Shaiye added that “Climate change is affecting the water sector and through these kinds of initiatives, the Ministry of Water and Sanitation in conjunction with the European Union has developed climate proofed infrastructures such as the use of solar power used in water supply projects.”

The eight counties surveyed in the baseline will benefit from 20 million Euros (approximately 2.6 billion shillings) to explore ways to adopt climate-proofing infrastructure and promote effective and sustainable management of rural water systems in the implementation of the project.

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation was financed by the European Union to the total amount of EUR 2 Million to undertake Result 3: - Implementing Public-Private Community Partnerships (PPCPs). This result area will ensure that the community water systems are managed in a sustainable way.

SNV undertook a baseline survey in all eight counties and has disseminated the results in this workshop to inform their future engagements and ensure smooth and robust PPCP implementation.

While deliberating in the same forum, the SNV Kenya Country Director Jeen Kootstra said “Together, the partnership seeks to develop infrastructure and introduce a multi-stakeholder management arrangement that are envisaged to improve the functionality, reliability, and resilience of rural water systems; against the backdrop of changing climate conditions.”

County governments have been challenged to identify possible partnership areas as water is a devolved function.

“County governments must provide an enabling environment to improve rural water services,” said Mr. Shaiye.


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