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Kenya is part of:
Africa · Eastern Africa ·
Water Basins of Kenya:
Juba-Shibeli · Lake Natron · Lake Turkana · Lotagipi Swamp · Nile · Pangani · Umba ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Nairobi
Neighbouring Countries Ethiopia, Tanzania, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda
Total Area 582,650 km2
  - Water 13,400 km2 (2.30%) / 230 m2/ha
  - Land 569,250 km2
Coastline 536 km
Population 34,255,720 (59 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.532 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 42.5 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $31,420 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $1,800
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 51,119 km2 (8.98%)
     - Arable 45,597 km2 (8.01%)
     - Permanent Crops 5,522 km2 (0.97%)
     - Irrigated 1,030 km2
  - Non cultivated 1,028,236 km2 (91.02%)
Average Annual RainfallD 630 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 30.2 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 1.58 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 64%
  - For Domestic Use 30%
  - For Industrial Use 6%
  - Per Capita 51 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 61%
     - Urban population 83%
     - Rural population 46%
  - Improved Sanitation 43%
     - Urban population 46%
     - Rural population 41%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

> Articles | Projects & Case studies | Publications & Web resources | Who is who | Maps
> Sector Assessment | Sector Coordination | Donor Profile

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Kenya is a water-scarce country with less than 1,000m3 per capita of renewable freshwater supplies. 80 percent of Kenya is made up of arid and semi-arid lands. Variability of rainfall in these areas ensures that local populations have limited socio-economic opportunities. As populations soar and livelihoods are threatened by the unsustainable consumption of regional resources, productivity decreases and the potential for conflict over resources increases. This may be particularly important in the Horn of Africa where water security has real economic, social, ecological, and political value.

Water availability helps inform the way in which Kenya approaches water resources management and water supply and sanitation (WSS) service. Kenya’s embrace of both water resources management and WSS sector reforms is very promising. Until its recent political setbacks, Kenya appeared to be on track to achieve the water Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of 90 percent water access, though it is off-track to meet its 90 percent target for sanitation access. In 2006, 57 percent of Kenya’s 36.6 million people had access to improved drinking water, and 42 percent had access to improved sanitation facilities.

Kenya may still meet the MDG goals if it follows through with its institutional reforms and builds management capacity at the local service provider level.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Key Agencies in Kenya's Water Sector
Key Agencies in Kenya's Water Sector

Kenya made major reforms to its WSS services sector through the passage of its Water Act 2002. The Act was instrumental in decentralizing Kenya’s WSS services and creating the institutional framework that exists today. Through the creation of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI), the government consolidated the responsibility to develop water resources, policy, and overall sector monitoring functions in MWI, while devolving water service provisions to local water operators. In addition, an independent regulator, the Water Regulatory Services Board (WSRB), was created for the regulation of water and sewerage services, including licensing, quality assurance, and issuance of guidelines for rates, fees, and handling service complaints. The National Irrigation Board is responsible for the development of national irrigation schemes and the promotion of smallholder irrigation. The River Basin Development Authorities are responsible for the planning and use of water and land resources within their jurisdictions.

Seven Water Services Boards (WSBs) are responsible for the efficient and economical provision of water and sewerage services within their area of jurisdiction. The seven WSBs cover the whole country and are responsible for asset development and overall responsibility for services. However, direct provision of water services is undertaken by Water Service Providers (WSPs) to whom the responsibility is delegated by the WSBs. Still, the WSRB can make exceptions. The WSPs can be community groups, non-governmental organizations, or autonomous entities established by local authorities or other persons. As a result, improvements and expansion of WSS services is beginning to gain traction, but sorely needed financing, local capacity building, and an improved system of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) remain as important next steps.

Multiple new institutions were created under the 2002 Water Act. To fully implement the reforms, complementary human resources, management training, and additional financial sources are required to effectively scale-up WSS service. Key to success is the adoption of the draft Sector Investment Plan and the rationalization of local water rate structures that ensure better cost-recovery, conserve water, and are geared toward pro-poor access and equity policies. These actions must be coupled with robust performance tracking to ensure cost-effectiveness and measurable outcomes. Good M&E will help inform future investment planning and bring transparency to the WSS sector.

The Government of Kenya is a member of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). Through NBI, nine Nile Basin countries work toward to: equitably and sustainably develop the Nile River water resources; guarantee effective water management and optimal resource use; promote cooperation and combined action between member countries; and combat poverty and promote economic integration (NBI 2010).

The government is focused on decentralizing water management. This effort is strengthened by the development of national Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency strategies. Under the revised system, the Ministry for Water and Irrigation is responsible for formulating the National Water Policy and for implementing reforms. The Water Resources Management Authority has been delegated authority for water management at the national level, while Catchment Areas Advisory Committees are responsible at the regional level and Water Resource User Associations are responsible at the local level. Since 2004, the provision of water and sanitation services has been transferred to private companies (Ngigi and Macharia 2006; Olum 2003).

The Urban Sub-sector

In urban settlements, the WSPs are mostly local authority-owned utilities that have been established recently as commercialized, publicly owned companies. In other areas, community-managed projects are to be transformed into formally recog-nised WSPs. Community based organizations (CBOs) will retain ownership over their assets and, where possible, remain or become in charge of operations. By 2006, urban areas in Kenya had remarkably greater access to improved drinking water than access to improved sanitation facilities, 85 and 19 percent respectively. Interestingly, water access has fallen by five percent since 1990 due to the shortage of adequate funding to repair or replace rapidly aging infrastructure. To reverse this trend, the WSS sector needs to build upon the recent reforms by improving sector investment planning and scaling-up capacity in terms of human resources, technical competence, and logistics management, thus improving the sector’s ability to absorb investments. Addressing these issues will help the WSBs/WSPs reduce non-revenue water (estimated at 60 percent), effectively communicate the new WSS service framework to their customers, and create water rate structures that meet revenue requirements. Some cities have effectively implemented strategies, such as Nairobi, but others, like Mombasa, have not delivered on changes and, as a result, have come close to losing their licenses to operate.

Urban sanitation is seriously lacking. To improve the sub-sector, the government is devising a new environmental sanitation and hygiene policy. The policy needs to be finalized and implemented by the ministries of Health and Environment. Without a concerted effort to rehabilitate and expand sanitation facilities, it is unlikely MDGs will be met by 2015. Even if MDGs cannot be met, efforts to simply enforce regulations may curb greater amounts of water pollution and subsequently increase safe drinking water sources.

The Rural Sub-sector

Kenya’s rural sub-sector has experienced marked improvements in drinking water access, but access to improved sanitation faciltities has remained relatively flat. Access may increase as national water reforms are fully implemented and water service providers in rural areas attract greater amounts of technical assistance, donor contributions, and greater participation of the private sector. Although, Kenya’s rural areas boast relatively high WSS service access levels compared with other sub-Saharan African countries, WSS service is distributed unequally; the Rift Valley and Lake Victoria South regions have the highest percentage of unserved populations in the country. The Water Act (2002) provided for the creation of a Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) to assist in financing the provision of water services to areas without adequate water services and a Water Appeal Board (WAB) for resolving certain disputes.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Interventions and Investments

The Government started developing a Sector Wide Approach to Planning (SWAP) in 2006 to harmonize sector planning, implementation mechanisms, and coordination or resources. The Government and the major donors, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the governments of Sweden, France, Germany, and Denmark, have developed a common sector policy framework and strategies, a common sector program (with possibilities for the pooling of resources), and common monitoring systems.

For FY 2010, the United States Department of State (USDOS) allocated USAID programs $1 million for water projects in Kenya. For FY 2011, USDOS allocated USAID and other development assistance $1.5 million and $7.5 million, respectively, for water improvement programs. USAID projects in Kenya are focused on providing clean water and improved sanitation, particularly in drought-affected areas, and improving water resource management in international river basins.

The World Bank has a 6-year Water and Sanitation Service Improvement Project (2007–2012) with objectives to help the government increase access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable water supply and sanitation services; and improve water and wastewater services. The project is supported by the Netherlands, the United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF), the Kenya Joint Assistance Strategy (KJAS), the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the German Development Services (DED), and the French Development Agency.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has funded agricultural development projects that include the development of smallholder irrigation schemes and establishment of a framework for the development of farmers’ organizations. World Vision Kenya is focusing on rehabilitating irrigation schemes to improve food security.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Kenya

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5 most recently updated publications on Kenya
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5 most popular publications on Kenya
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  2. The Nile: Moving Beyond Cooperation ‎(10,764 views) . . Katy.norman
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See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Kenya

Who is Who

People working in Kenya

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Organizations working in Kenya

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See the complete list of WaterWiki documented organizations in Kenya


See also

External Resources



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