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State grappling with Sh83 billion funding gap for water, sanitation

 A thirsty boy drinks water from a tap. [Getty Images]

The government has urged the public and private sectors to collaborate and reduce the funding gaps within the water sector.

Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru on Tuesday said the government is currently grappling with an annual Sh83 billion funding gap to provide clean water and sewerage services across the country.

Njeru said although the Ministry has undertaken numerous initiatives in order to achieve 100 per cent access of sustainable water and sanitation, there remain grey areas that have hampered full implementation.

He Spoke during a press briefing ahead of the planned Water and Sanitation Investors Conference (WASIC) to be hosted in Nairobi next month.

The CS said by 2030, the government will require Sh995 billion to achieve 100 per cent coverage in the water and sewerage sector.

According to him, 40 per cent of the money will be drawn from concessional financing, while 31 per cent will be obtained through public-private partnerships.

Public contributions, including County and national governments, will constitute only 11 per cent, while donor grants will be about eight per cent, Njeru said.

Njeru said Sh82 billion will come from commercial financing. The CS said the Sh83 billion capital must be mobilized from private equity to bridge the gap.

The conference scheduled to start on between March 6 and March 8, 2024, will alter sustainable and innovative financing to bridge existing water and sanitation coverage gaps.

During the meeting, Njeru urged the private entities and service providers to spearhead the protection of water catchment areas.

Njeru noted that just like manufacturers consider carbon footprint as related to climate change, private players should also consider water footprint and recognize the water value.

“Sustainable Development Goal Six (SDG 6) aspires towards universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030. Further, the Constitution 2010 makes water and sanitation a right for every citizen,” Njeru said.

Njeru said there is a need to accelerate more investments in the sector so as to ensure better quality of life, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

CS said the Ministry has undertaken numerous initiatives to achieve 100 per cent access of sustainable water and sanitation.

However, he said this has not been attained but there has been a slight positive improvement.

“This has resulted in increased water coverage by 12.1 per cent from 59.9 per cent in 2017 to 72 per cent in 2023. While sewerage coverage in urban areas increased by six per cent from 26.1 per cent in 2017 to 32 per cent in 2023 according to the 2023 Annual Status Report on Water, Sanitation and Irrigation,” Njeru said.

The CS said that to address the water scarcity issue that have dominated for so long, they are going to build storage facilities that will help in water conservation.

“The Government is seeking to construct 100 dams in five years. 56 dams have already been identified and recommended for implementation under the PPP Model. This will ensure that there is water for domestic use and more land brought under irrigation,” he said.

Njeru said that the rise in water demand is due to urbanization and industrialization, which are the key economic drivers exerting enormous pressure on scarce water resources.

“In Kenya, 33 per cent of renewable water resources are being withdrawn after taking into account environmental flow requirements,” he said.

State department for water and sanitation Principal Secretary Julius Korir called on both public and private sector to help them accomplish their 2030 vision whose aim is to achieve universal access to water supply and sanitation services to every citizen.

Vihiga Governor Wilber Otichilo, speaking on behave of the Council of Governors said water scarcity is a fundamental challenge that has been facing the country.

He said that through the strategic plan, they are committed to providing sustainable water to all citizens.

“About 72 per cent of our households have access to clean water, but this varies from one county to another. For instance, in Nairobi County, we are at 95 per cent and we plan to be at 100 per cent in the near future,” Otichilo said.

The governor also noted a slight drop due to the availability on non-revenue water which is not paid for hence 2 per cent reduction in revenue collection.

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