Factors influencing management of commercialized urban water services in Kenya
Water not only sustains life but also is an essential ingredient for all social and economic developments. Provision of water services particularly in urban areas, where the demands are high and the water resources very limited is a big challenge in all countries. The Government of Kenya in appreciation of the need for competitive service delivery in this sector paved way for commercialisation of urban water services in the country in mid 1990s. Though commendable improvements have been made in some of the commercialised water services, poor service delivery persists in others. This study conducted in the period between May and August, 2003 had the objective of determining the important factors that influence management of the commercialised urban water services in Kenya. To achieve this objective, data on all the eight commercialised water services was collected through structured questionnaires and personal interviews held with senior management staff of the agencies managing these water services and staff involved in steering the commercialisation process of water services in Kenya. From this study, important factors that must be effectively addressed for improved performance of the commercialised water services were identified. Financing was identified as a major factor that inhibited the commercialisation strategy implementation. Financing was found to affect the institutional capacity development and water supply operations improvement. Success in commercialised water services would only be achievable with substantial Government budgetary allocation, donor agency support and private sector partnership in the initial phase of commercialisation. Capability gaps were also identified in the human resources. This gap is permeated through a fundamental mistake of transferring almost all staff from the previous managing agency to the private water companies, as opposed to hybrid with sourcing from the competitive market. All the issues that influence management of the commercialised water services revolve around these two key factors; Financing and Human resources. It is hoped that the results of this study will contribute to the onerous task of quality water service delivery to all urban areas in this country.