Columnists

How Kenya can fund sanitation, water delivery

kids

Makini School pupils wash their hands during a past Global Handwashing Day celebrations. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Goal six of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by the year 2030.
  • To domesticate this ambition, Kenya has developed a water master plan. We are now left with only a decade to make this a reality.
  • Covid-19 has reminded all of us of the central role a basic activity like hand washing plays in curbing disease transmission. We should build on this momentum.

Goal six of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by the year 2030.

To domesticate this ambition, Kenya has developed a water master plan. We are now left with only a decade to make this a reality.

Covid-19 has reminded all of us of the central role a basic activity like hand washing plays in curbing disease transmission. We should build on this momentum.

Key to achieving universal access to hand hygiene, is access to clean water. This calls for increased investments to afford every household clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Kenya’s National Water Master Plan (2014) estimates the investment needs for the sector at Sh1.288 trillion and Sh477 Billion to finance the water and sanitation coverage gaps respectively.

However, Treasury is estimated to only be able to fund the water and sanitation capital budget with Sh562 billion and Sh31 billion respectively; resulting in a funding gap of Sh2.259 trillion.

How then do we increase access to water, hygiene and sanitation during this pandemic? There is a need to explore tapping resources from the private sector to make handwashing a reality for all.

While the coronavirus has provided impetus on the need to provide water access to achieve hand hygiene for all, the economic fallout from the unprecedented pandemic will push many back to poverty — and threatens to roll back the gains made so far on achieving water, sanitation and hygiene.

There are fears that with declining government revenue due to the virus affecting business output, this will likely affect future funding for water projects.

Kenya’s average water coverage was 59 percent as at June 2019, which is a growth of two percentage points from 2017/18 where coverage was 57 percent, according to the Water Services Regulatory Board. This was equivalent to an additional 894,827 people, representing 229,442 households, getting access to water.

WATER BONDS

Sewered sanitation coverage improved to 17 percent from 16 percent a year earlier. Sewer services available remained at 32 urban centres spread across 26 counties. However, 21 counties have no sewer services and rely on onsite solutions. The number of sewer connections increased by four percent.

Kenya can also tap the capital markets in the form of water bonds, structured as green bonds, to fund water and sanitation projects.

The national and county governments should also explore instruments such as partial credit guarantees, tenure extensions, political risk insurance, and dedicated lines of credit.

The returns from universal water and sanitation access cannot be gainsaid. When Kenyans have access to clean water, it results in a population that is healthier, children can go to school, innovate, and live productive life.