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Performance overview

There has been tremendous transformation in the water services sector within the last ten years of reforms. Significant improvement has been realized in the management of resources and services to the benefit of citizens.

Water services have witnessed a clear separation of policy making, which is the sole responsibility of the state department of water; regulation, which is the responsibility of the regulator (Wasreb); and service provision, which is the responsibility of eight regional Water Services Boards. In their capacity as asset holders, the latter appointed over 100 Water Service Providers (WSPs), as their agents, for actual service delivery.

Commercialization has ensured that utilities meet the minimum standards for water service provision, and that they can be held accountable for services that meet quality, affordability, and sustainability criteria. Realization of the right to water can only be achieved if the sector is operating under uniform norms and standards on quality, service delivery, cost recovery and consumer protection. Now that water services have been devolved, Wasreb urges county governments to adopt and strengthen the model of socially responsible commercialization by having water service providers who are autonomous. Ring-fencing of revenues is a critical ingredient of this strategy.

It is a precondition for gradually achieving full cost recovery in water services. This is essential for the long-term sustainability of service provision. Full cost recovery is also important in facilitating the expansion and enhancement of water services so that the human right to water can progressively be realized. Therefore, ring-fencing of revenues, which is one of the main achievements of the water sector reforms, should be safeguarded under devolved services. Since the reforms were implemented, funding for the sector has increased more than six fold.

It is, however, worrying that this growth in funding has not been matched with commensurate increase in access levels. Improving access therefore calls for much more than increase in funding. It entails ensuring that resources are properly targeted, and demonstrating good value for money. In this regard, there is need to inculcate a culture of strategic thinking and planning to improve the quality of decision making in water utilities.

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