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Accepted paper:

Impact of ownership of water resources and associated facilities to its access and management in the asal Kitui County, Kenya


Keziah Ngugi (SEKU)
Maurits Ertsen (Delft University of Technology)
Maina Gichaba (University of Nairobi)
Stephen M Mureithi (University of Nairobi)

Paper long abstract:

Access to water for all cannot be overemphasized. In Kenya, where 80% of the land is arid and semi-arid, access to water is an everyday challenge for majority of the people. Methods used to improve access to water in Kenya results to different, and sometimes unexpected outcomes. We assessed technologies used to improve access to water in the asals of Kitui County, Kenya. The technologies were classified into four; individual, private, community and government owned. Those assessed were tanks, boreholes and hand dug wells, sand dams and pipelines for individual, private, community and government owned respectively. Private and individual resources outperformed others in terms of management with donor aided community owned being the least sustainable. Government owned water facilities reached relatively more people but were often not reliable, failing to fulfill their obligation of supplying adequate water throughout the year. Individual owned water resources offered water in small quantities, however owners were able to manage with ease through rationing to stretch availability for a long time. Donor funded community owned resources suffered "tragedy of the commons", as everyone scrambled for water when available but turned away when called upon to provide maintenance works and resources. Privately owned resources offered the best solution as water was sold and the resulting money become income for the owners as well as providing resources for maintenance. The resulting income offered incentives for further investment which further improved access. The tragedy with privately owned water resources was that the poor paid too much for water while the rich continued to accumulate massive wealth. To ensure adequate access to water especially in remote places, privately owned and operated systems should be encouraged and supported but with government sponsored regulations to ensure the poor are not exploited.

panel D18
Disciplinary trends in Africa: water science and technology