11 March 2024

Strategic Funding and Multisectoral Engagement for Achieving Universal Water Access: A Legal Brief of Kenya’s Imperatives by 2030

Water and Sanitation Principal Secretary (PS) Julius Korir speaking in Nairobi during the Water and Sanitation Investors Conference 2024. PHOTO/COURTESY: X/@MOWSI_KE

In the pursuit of ensuring universal access to clean water by 2030, the Kenyan government faces a substantial financial challenge. The estimations set forth by Water and Sanitation Principal Secretary (PS) Julius Korir underscore the gravity of the fiscal demands, necessitating a comprehensive strategy drawing upon diverse financial streams, including public funds, grants, concessional financing, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and climate financing. This article examines the legal dimensions of this imperative, considering the roles and responsibilities of both the national and county governments, as well as the regulatory frameworks governing financing mechanisms and partnership arrangements.

Under Kenyan law, the provision of essential services such as water supply falls within the purview of both national and county governments. The Constitution of Kenya mandates devolution, empowering county governments to manage water resources and supply within their jurisdictions, while the national government retains overarching responsibilities, including policy formulation and resource mobilization (Constitution of Kenya, 2010; Water Act, 2016). Consequently, the financing of universal water access initiatives necessitates collaboration and coordination between these levels of government.

Water and Sanitation Principal Secretary(PS) Julius Korir’s remarks during the Water and Sanitation Investors Conference 2024, elucidate the financial imperatives underlying the goal of universal water access. The projected budget of approximately Ksh.995 billion represents a significant investment, requiring innovative financing mechanisms. Korir’s delineation of the anticipated contributions from national and county governments, development partners, concessional financing, PPPs, and climate financing reflects a nuanced understanding of the diverse funding sources available within Kenya’s economic landscape.

In mobilizing funds for water access projects, the Kenyan government must adhere to established legal frameworks governing public finance management, procurement, and partnership agreements. The Public Finance Management Act (2012) imposes obligations of transparency, accountability, and prudence in the utilization of public funds, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently and equitably. Additionally, procurement regulations govern the solicitation and awarding of contracts, safeguarding against corruption and promoting fair competition (Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015).

PS Korir’s advocacy for PPPs underscores the government’s recognition of the potential for private sector participation in advancing water access objectives. The legal framework for PPPs in Kenya, enshrined in the Public Private Partnerships Act (2013), delineates the parameters for contractual arrangements between public authorities and private entities. By harnessing the expertise and resources of the private sector, PPPs offer a mechanism for innovation, efficiency, and risk-sharing in delivering essential services.

The imperative of achieving universal water access by 2030 demands a strategic and legally sound approach to financing and partnership engagement. PS Korir’s articulation of the financial requirements and investment strategies reflects a proactive stance by the Kenyan government in addressing this critical challenge. Through adherence to established legal frameworks and prudent fiscal management, Kenya can leverage its resources effectively to realize the fundamental human right to clean water for all citizens.

Authored by

Joshua Kimani ACIArb

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