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Water and sanitation

As an important resource for life, and a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity, the WSS situation in Kenya is yet to reach the optimal level of efficiency.


The past performance of national water and sanitation utilities has been characterised by management inefficiencies, poor investment planning and suboptimal operations and maintenance of WSS infrastructure. Nonetheless, the sector has made significant progress mainly due to reforms, harmonisation and alignments efforts of different stakeholders. According to the Kenya National Water Services Strategy (2007 - 2015), sustainable water access levels in Kenya are currently estimated to be at 57%, while sanitation is estimated at 50%. In the urban areas, sustainable access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation is estimated at 60% whereas access for the urban poor and in rural areas is estimated at 20% and 40% respectively.

Central to WSS reform is the isolation of management of water resources and the provision of water and sewerage services. The Water Act (2002) provides the basis of decentralised structures, from the line ministry in charge of WSS affairs to the consumer. Institutions that have come up as a result of this decentralisation are varied from a functional and jurisdictional point of view and include Water Services Regulatory Board, several Water Services Boards, Water Resources Management Authority, Water Services Trust Fund, and the Water Appeals Board.


PwC and water and sanitation sub sector in Kenya

As leading provider of professional services to regulated and unregulated utility companies worldwide, PricewaterhouseCoopers is a recognised leader with over two decades of financial advisory experience in the water and waste-water industries. Our WSS advisory team is a combination of assurance, tax, and advisory professionals drawn from our water/wastewater industry client teams.

This ensures that our client service approach, industry knowledge and expertise are leveraged for the benefit of our clients across the sector. The services we provide in this sector are diverse and comprise the following:

  • Corporate Finance, Audit and Tax Services
  • Private sector participation initiatives and transactions, and implementation thereof
  • Sector policy, regulation, legislation, tariffs and support in implementation of reforms
  • Institutional operational and performance improvement support

In Kenya, we have worked over the years on various assignments to formulate, implement and enhance an environment for institutions to implement and sustain reforms so as to ensure sustainable improvements in the sector performance.

  • Some of the advisory services we have delivered include:
  • Assistance in review of tariffs, regulatory framework and instruments
  • Corporatisation and valuation of WSS utilities within the sector
  • Institutional support to water service boards and utilities
  • Opportunities for Public Private Partnerships within the sector
  • Value for Money study of implementation of 25 rural water and sanitation projects in the seven WSB areas in Kenya and
  • Advisory services around Output Based Aid (OBA) schemes.


Challenges facing the water and sanitation sector in Kenya

A number of challenges exist in the WSS sector. These range from Central Government, donor, utility, and end user related challenges. We focus on the top three challenges below.

An overall restructuring of the WSS line ministry to enable it to effectively carry out responsibilities under its new mandate.

Total and absolute transfer of functions, duties and responsibilities from the old WSS institutional set-up to the new structures and institutions formed and suggested under the Water Act (2002).

Concentration of efforts in deepening the Sector Wide Approach initiatives that includes operationalisation of various recent strategies and the move towards a results based budget that is aligned with strategies and sector investment plan.

Little investment being put in augmentation, rehabilitation of existing WSS infrastructure, and expansion of WSS schemes.

Concentration of efforts to WSS as opposed to a multi-sector financing approach in support of developmental initiatives.

Fund management challenges and infusion of accountability of fund recipients.

Financial management capacity i.e. existing internal control weaknesses and integrating redundant inherited financial management systems (such as disparate, non-integrated, outdated, and inefficient systems and processes).

Water resources, assets, and systems management e.g water investments planning, maintenance of WSS infrastructure, quality control and assurance, urban WSS management, reducing Non-Revenue Water, leakage control, and equipment installation.

Commercialisation constraints such as setting of utility rates, supply vs demand management, metering strategies, end user efficiency strategies, and active detection of illegal connections and water pilferage to reduce commercial losses.

Workforce challenges and organisation structure review to improve, attract and retain employees with knowledge, skills and abilities required for each position within the utility in the context of local labour market conditions.

Asset ownership issues to enable utilities to develop comprehensive investment decisions regarding WSS infrastructure in its service area.

Utility self financing constraints to finance their existing capital expenditure programmes and enhance subsequent bankability.

Contact us

Benson Okundi

Benson Okundi

Partner and Head of Government and Public Sector Services, Eastern Africa, PwC Kenya

Tel: +254 (20) 285 5241

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