An Analysis of Kenya’s water sector institutional and regulatory framework from 2002-2017
Water is key for human survival as well as the economic and social development of all nations. It is, however, a scarce resource making effective water governance crucial in its efficient use and distribution among the various competing needs. Water governance is dependent on a framework of policies, legislation and institutions. Over the years, Kenya has enacted a number of water legislation that have led to the creation of multiple water institutions. However, challenges have still been experienced which have been attributed to the multiplicity of institutions and the lack of coordination mechanisms amongst them. This study sequentially examined the water regulatory and institutional framework for the water sector from 2002 to 2017, identified gaps in the regulatory framework, and the resulting challenges in execution of their mandates. It used a cross-sectional and descriptive research design and is qualitative in nature. The study population included the water institutions with the Water Act, 2002, the Water Act, 2016, the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 forming other sources of data. Purposive sampling was used to identify key informants and snowballing used to refer the researcher to the appropriate/relevant staff members. Data collection was conducted by document analysis of the Water Act, 2002, the Water Act, 2016 and the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with key officials of the water institutions. Data were transcribed, coded and categorized then themes, patterns and relationships elicited from the data. Data interpretation was done by scanning data for repetitive words and phrases and comparing the findings from the interviews and document analysis with the findings of literature review and discussing similarities and differences between them. The study found that the regulatory framework establishes institutions for regulation of water resources and water service provision, water works development and water harvesting and storage and financing of water services. Each institution has roles assigned to it which cater for principles of participation, accountability, and tariff setting. Despite this, gaps still exist in regulation of some institutions, overlaps in roles and lack of coordination mechanisms among the institutions and challenges in funding, regulation and coordination. As a result, the study proposes the inclusion of coordination mechanisms, clear outlining of roles, regulation of institutions involved in water works and envisioning of mechanisms for County Government involvement on matters that directly involve them in the Water Act.