By Beth Nyaga
Kenya has launched the second phase of an ambitious project to support water service providers (WSPs) to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) levels in order to enhance their financial sustainability and improve access to water services among consumers.
Through technical support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the project aims at contributing significantly to increased access to safe water for all Kenyans in line with the country’s Vision 2030. In 2015, the national NRW average was 43%. This means that almost half of the water produced is lost through physical losses, such as pipe leaks, and commercial losses ranging from illegal connections, unmetered public use, meter errors, unbilled metered water. This is a very serious problem considering the costs incurred by WSPs in water production such as purchase of chemicals for water treatment, electricity for pumping, staff salaries as well as maintenance costs.
The programme will also enhance the capacity of water companies to increase revenues, meet their operation and maintenance costs and finance infrastructure developments.
“JICA’s support to the water sector dates back to 1977 when the first Japanese experts were dispatched to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation,” Kazuhiko Tambara, JICA Kenya’s senior representative said recently during the official launch of the project attended by senior Kenyan officials.
Since then, JICA has collaborated with the Ministry in many projects all over the country from urban water supply to Meru, Kapsabet, Embu and Narok towns to rural water supply Projects in Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Garissa, Wajir and Baringo counties.
The project entitled “Strengthening Capacity in Non-Revenue Water Reduction” follows the highly successful ”Project for Management of Non-Revenue Water” implemented with support from JICA in 2010 – 2014. In this project, the standards for the management of non-revenue water were developed with the aim of reducing the loss, which stood at 42% in 2014 to 20% by 2020.
JICA has assigned 10 experts in various fields to work together with Kenyan counterparts in the new Project Following the devolution of water service provision, support from the county governments is crucial to addressing the high NRW problem.
“This Project is in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 6, to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” said Mr. Tambara.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Water Secretary Engineer Lawrence Simitu, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Prof. Fred Segor said the current water coverage is about 58% and that a significant number of Kenyans still lack access to safe drinking water.
“The Government has taken a number of measures to intensify the fight against inefficiency in water services delivery,” he said, adding that key among these measures include the enactment of the Water Act 2016.
“We are embarking on the development of National Water policy which will play a critical role in guiding the implementation of the Water Act 2016,” he added.