, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – The government is formulating a legal framework to ensure there is no disruption in distribution of water under devolved services.
Addressing the media at a water forum on devolution, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources Judi Wakhungu said that this will help both the national and county leadership achieve sustainable delivery of improved water services under the new dispensation.
“Supportive policy and legislation are needed to anchor the constitutional right to water and sustainable services focusing on the poor and undeserved,” she stated.
Under devolution, the counties will be required to maintain water systems and to ensure persons living within their jurisdiction get access to water.
Wakhungu however noted that all water resources will be owned by the national government.
She however says that devolution of water services still requires greater clarity and certainty on pertinent issues.
“Some counties are under impression that they can charge for the export of water from their counties to other counties; this false perception should be addressed and corrected as it contradicts the letter and intent of the Constitution and existing laws,” she pointed out.
Wakhungu also urged the county leaders to ensure they budget for development costs of water service provision.
“Counties must budget for the recurrent and development cost of water service provision, ensuring adequate resources for personnel and operations and maintenance costs to sustain services,” she said.
She says the county leadership will be sensitised on the process to ensure distribution of water across the country is not disrupted.
The Environment Secretary also noted that the national water regulator should play a strong role in monitoring the sector performance and enforcing compliance.
“There is need to increase funding for the water sector, including clarifying the role of domestic commercial finance, invest smartly and ensure effective financing flows.”
She said the national government is mandated to support counties, and to do so in consultation with county leadership and stakeholders, focusing on clarifying role of the regional boards.
Speaking during the forum, the Acting Country Director, World Bank, Kenya Apurva Sanghi, said that the country devolution process was far-reaching and ambitious.
“It has huge implications for the country’s and water overall system of governance, and requires a major overhaul of service delivery sectors like health and sanitation,” he said.
He said that the test for a smooth devolution of services lies in effectively keeping the water running.
“While transforming existing systems and approaches, it is incumbent on county and national leaderships and water sector professionals to take care not to put service delivery at risk. This includes dealing with inter-county water issues, and the complex issues around the role of water boards,” he cautioned.