The World Bank has allocated Sh6.9 billion to support water service providers supply quality water as part of a wider plan to support the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and increase coverage.
Some 75 water providers have benefitted from the funds to support some of their operations following devastating impacts of Covid-19.
Of the funds, Sh5.4 billion will go towards conditional liquidity support grant, while Sh1.5 billion will go towards performance-based finance loan.
The objective of the funds is to improve the financial performance of water service providers affected by the Covid-19 crisis, strengthen institutional capacity and operational performance.
The funds will also seek to accelerate access to water supply and sanitation services. Water service providers can access the funds by meeting eligibility criteria such as being in areas with confirmed Covid cases.
Water Service providers in Nairobi, Nyeri, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Naivasha, Eldoret, Nyahururu, and Laikipia signed.
They should in addition have 30 per cent or more of their customer base living in low-income areas and informal settlements. Such providers must also commit upfront to prepare and implement a post-Covid-19 financial turnaround.
Water Sector Trust Fund is the executing agency, while technical support will be provided by Water Service Regulatory Board. The implementation period is from November 2020 to October 2022.
Water CS Sicily Kariuki on Thursday presided over the signing ceremony at Maji House, Nairobi. Kariuki noted that some of the water service providers were reeling from the effects after they were directed by county governments to provide free water.
“The directive has resulted in a significant reduction in revenue collections that threatens the ability for water service providers to cover their operation and maintenance costs and keep the water flowing during the crisis,” she said at ministry offices during the signing ceremony.
So dire is the situation that Kenya Power and Lighting Company bill has accrued to Sh2 billion. The bill accrued from a moratorium that was put in place by authorities in the wake of Covid-19 last year March.
During the signing ceremony, water service providers appealed to the CS to engage KPLC with a view of handing water service providers with preferential tariffs. The appeal was made through Festus Ng’eno, the chair of CECs caucus on water, forestry, mining committee under the Council of Governors.
“Water and sanitation is a right. Street lightning charges are less than the rates on the water sector,” Ngeno said.
Ng’eno said the Coast region had a pending bill of Sh140 million, yet it was receiving Sh300 million.
Ng’eno also raised issues with what he said multiple levies like for effluent discharge license that were being charged by National Environment Management Authority and Water Resource Authority.
Kariuki said: “We put out a request to KPLC last year to give us special tariffs and should be looked into,” Kariuki said.
She said PS from her ministry and that of energy have had a discussion on the tariffs.
Present during the ceremony were water CAS Andrew Tuimur, Water Fund CEO Ismail Shaiye, Water Service Providers Association CEO Antony Ambugo, Water Service Providers Association CEO Michael Mangeli, Wasreb CEO Robert Gakubia, Water Fund Board representative Mathew Tuitoek, among other officials.
Kariuki said things will be done differently to accelerate water coverage that stands nationally at 69 per cent to 80 percent by the end of the calendar year. She decried that sanitation coverage was also very poor.
“Sanitation coverage is at 26 per cent. It is very low but that is what it is. We need to move it to 40 percent by the end of the calendar year,” she said.
Kariuki said for progress to be made, there is a need for improved monitoring of projects and refreshment of policies.
She said water policy that will support the ministry has already been forwarded to the National Assembly.
Kariuki said there is a need for those implementing the projects to work in a coherent manner.
The CS said her ministry targets to put 40,000 acres under irrigation on top of the current 400,000 acres under irrigation.
She said the resources that have been provided must be used prudently in where it was intended.
Kariuki challenged water service providers to have in place resilient institutions, better governance frameworks to enhance service delivery.
The CS said Sh70 billion has been invested in one financial year in the ministry yet water coverage and sanitation were still low.
She said the non-revenue water or water pumped and loss of 42 percent must be addressed.
Kariuki revealed that there are between 650 to 700 water projects that are currently ongoing with works at various stages of completion.
“Thirty flagship projects are 85 per cent complete,” she said.
Water Fund Board of Trustees Mathew Tuitoek said an audit will be conducted to establish how funds were utilised.