Factors affecting water governance and accessibility among households in Huruma informal settlement, Nairobi
The enactment of the Water Act of 2002 has been hailed as an important milestone in the reform and subsequent improvement of the water sector in Kenya. The Act established institutions that separated the three key functions of policy formulation, regulation and service provision. Though some challenges still exist, considerable progress has been made in the management of resources and provision of water services. However, the pace of reforms has not been able to contend with pressing development issues especially in informal settlements. The Water Services Trust Fund was created and mandated to provide financial support for improved access to water and sanitation in areas without adequate services. Almost a decade later, the challenges facing informal settlements continue to exist. The ultimate goal of the study was to assess water governance in informal settlements in Kenya’s Nairobi County and evaluate the different factors that affect access to water for households. The objectives of the study were to identify the sources of water for households in Huruma and to identify the formal and informal actors involved in the provision of water in the area. The study also sought to highlight the challenges faced by both water actors and households in the provision and access to water respectively. The study adopted both quantitative and qualitative approaches in data collection and analysis. This involved administration of structured and open ended questionnaires. Key stakeholders were identified and simple random sampling method used to select households, water vendors, civil society groups, administrative authorities and water service providers, both legal and illegal. A sample size of 100 randomly selected households and 20 different water vendors operating in the study area were selected to supplement data and information collected through focus group discussions. The per capita daily water demand was barely within the limits of basic access of service level. The study also revealed challenges related to the poor quality of water supplied to households. In relation to cost of water, over ninety percent of household spent about one fifth of their monthly income on water. It emerged that households in informal settlements, with lower purchasing power parity, paid over 12 times more for water than households depending entirely on water supplied by Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company. Leaking water pipes, illegal water connections, poor condition of access paths and harassment by administrative authorities were some of the challenges affecting water actors sampled in the study area. The study recommends that the water service provider together with other stakeholders first address the reported leakages of water to prevent further losses. This includes efforts to disconnect all illegal water connections, which according to the study, have led to the economic exploitation of poor households in informal settlements. The study also recommends that the number of water kiosks in strategic areas be increased to reduce the distance traveled and time taken to access water. Eventually, the main aim should be geared towards individual water supply connections to ensure optimal water access. Finally, the study recommends the exploitation of alternative water sources such as rainwater harvesting, together with the commensurate infrastructure capacity for water capture and safe storage.