This April, the Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group Governing Board welcomed the Kenya Bankers Association into its membership and unanimously endorsed two project proposals aimed at strengthening catchment management by professionalizing water resource users associations (WRUAs) and reducing the discharge of untreated effluent into the environment by incentivizing industrial water users to treat and re-use effluent water.
Strengthening the Governing Board Membership
The Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), represented on the Governing Board by Chair, Joshua Oigara, is the financial sector’s leading advocacy group and the umbrella body of institutions licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). With a current membership of 47 financial institutions, KBA is an important private sector stakeholder with the ability to help maximize financing to the water sector.
The meeting also saw three other office bearers take over from their predecessors: H.E Samuel Tunai, Chair of Natural Resources & Trade Committee, Council of Governors; Patrick Kokonya, Chair of the Water Sector Trust Fund; and Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council.
“There is a tremendous value to having so many stakeholders around one table as the challenges we are facing can only be met through collective action” said Vimal Shah, Chair of Bidco Africa and co-chair of the Governing Board.
Water Resource User Association (WRUA) Agency Model
The Water Resource User Association (WRUA) Agency model is a mechanism to capacitate WRUAs to work together with the Water Resource Authority (WRA), serving as agents on the ground to ensure equitable and effective management of water resources at the basin level.
Water users within the Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin have been experiencing increased water insecurity over the last 10-15 years due to small-holder and commercial irrigation activities occurring upstream. Although commercial growers have diversified their water use from rivers to rainwater storage and groundwater, the dry season river flows continue to trend downwards despite concerted efforts by Water Resources Authority (WRA), Water Resources User Associations (WRUAs) and commercial growers. Failure to manage the shared water resources puts existing businesses, livelihoods and the environment at risk with increasing conflicts with downstream water users.
Participants welcomed the project, noting that WRUAs are often better positioned to collect revenue than WRA, which is not on the ground in communities where abstractions occur; currently the authority is able to collect revenue for less than half of existing abstractions as a result of uncontrolled and un-permitted abstraction activities.
The proposal will see the model piloted with five WRUAs. Further discussions with WRA and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation will continue to be held to finalize the concept and move to piloting.
The Trade Effluent Management System (TEMS)
2030 WRG is working together with Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Ltd. and Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Ltd. to develop a Trade Effluent Management System to address challenges of effluent management, promote investment in waste water pre-treatment, reuse and environmental conservation and overall address water security challenges.
While clear standards for discharge into public sewers exist, license conditions compelling the industries to pre-treat their effluent before discharging into the sewer system have not been effectively enforced. The EMCA 1999 law espouses the use of the Polluter Pays Principle (3P) as guiding principle to enforce citizen’s entitlement to a clean environment, however, the current tariff mechanism for wastewater implemented by WSPs in Kenya does not adequately reflect the 3P.
3P supposes that the “cost” of un(der)-treated effluent should be borne by the polluter and not by society. It is a mechanism for incentivizing effluent treatment and water re-use by decreasing their relative cost compared to discharging effluent into the environment without adequately treating it first.
Currently, most WSPs charge a flat tariff, which does not take into account the actual quantity and quality of discharge. A commercial user discharging high levels of toxic chemicals is charged the same as one discharging grey water, despite their significantly disparate impacts on the environment, sewerage infrastructure, and public health. Recognizing this challenge, urban WSPs and the Water Services Regulatory Board have expressed the need to develop a risk-based effluent management system based on the 3P.
Participants welcomed the TEMS proposal as it addresses a critical need. The issue of trade effluent that affects the public sewerage system is a high priority, and the biggest sanitation challenge is Nairobi City. Based on the success of these two pilots, there is an opportunity to transition towards a national scale-up to other urban centres.
During the meeting, Joy Busulo, Senior Water Resource Management Specialist and Kenya Country Coordinator provided an update on the various 2030 WRG workstreams.
Guest speaker, Rosemary Rop, Senior Gender Coordinator and Water Management Consultant, WBG, gave a presentation on integrating gender perspectives in water. She challenged 2030 WRG to not only to account for gender in its programming, but also be creator of knowledge and evidence that can help influence future change.
Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water and Sanitation and Chari of the Governing Board closed the meeting by reminding participants that water is a critical enabler to the Big 4 Agenda. He encouraged attendees to “take forward the proposals and recommendations of the meeting with due seriousness and purpose, and to deliver well.”
Regional Communications Officer – Africa