TI seeks reforms in Kenya water sector

June 22, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 22 – Kenya’s water sector is riddled with corruption and inefficiency, according to a new report by Transparency International (TI).

The study reveals that 57 percent of water consumed for domestic purposes is unaccounted for, while the Water Resource Management Authority is only collecting 20 percent of the fees due from large water users.

“These inefficiencies in revenue collection are leading to massive losses,” said TI Kenya Executive Director Job Ogonda.

The survey which was conducted from March 26 to May 8, also showed that bribing water officers to facilitate illegal water connections was the most prevalent form of corruption in the sector.

“Cases of bribery for illegal connection are higher in Nairobi at 87 percent, Mombasa at 75 percent and Kisumu 67 percent,” the report states.

Another sore thumb for the water sector is the diversion of water from small to large scale water users, witnessed by 31.1 percent of commercial clients interviewed in the survey.
The corruption watchdog has therefore recommended that the government develops institutional linkages that will facilitate the detection of loopholes that create opportunities for malpractices.

Areas that required urgent attention included licensing, billing and revenue collection.
Mr Ogonda further stressed the need for consumer participation and feedback systems to be strengthened. He said that the mandate and roles of government water bodies need to be reviewed in an effort to avoid an overlap in roles and increased overheads.

Water Services Regulatory Board (WSRB) Chief Executive Officer Robert Gakubia called for the recruitment of competent staff and the mandate of government water bodies to be reviewed to reduce increased overheads in the sector.

“So many institutions are saying that we have conflicting laws; we do not know who is doing this, that is what we expect when we are in a reformed phase,” Engineer Gakubia said.
He stated the need for the governments to be pro-active in reforming the water sector by being open about its operations.

“To go to the next phase of reforms, if government is going to subsidise water, it must do so transparently and with a very clear focus on what it is subsidising,” he said.

He observed that doing this will ensure that governance in the water sector is improved and empower citizens to increasingly demand for better service delivery.

The government has in the recent past instituted several reforms in the water sector. Despite these changes in the management and provision of water services, access to clean, safe drinking water is limited. This was attributed to poor accountability, malpractices, and inefficient water services.


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