Importance of community based water governance in utilization of water resource users association development cycle funds in upper Ewaso Nyiro, Laikipia County
Water governance at all levels from the global, regional, national and local level has been identified as the major reason for the water scarcity problem facing most nations of the world. In order to improve governance water management has been decentralized to the lowest possible level which is the community and provided for the involvement of stakeholders in decision making. In Kenya, water management has been decentralized to the local level through the creation of WRUAs. These are community based organizations whose main mandate is to resolve conflicts over water at the Sub-catchment level. In order to fulfill its mandate, the WRUA receives funds from the Water Services Trust Fund through the WRUA Development Cycle framework. The Associations are responsible for managing, reporting and accounting for the usage of the funds. However literature reviewed showed that the institutional capacity of Community Based organizations in terms of availability of technical, financial and managerial skills is a bottleneck in their ability to effectively utilize funds received. Further the ability to account, report and involve stakeholders in funds management influences the ability to fully utilize funds earmarked for development activities. The result of this is that funds are withdrawn, diverted to other activities or do not result in value for money. Therefore the objective of the study was to assess the importance of stakeholder participation, management capacity, accountability and level of compliance to procedures in water governance on the utilization of funds. The purpose of the study was to establish the importance of community based water governance on the utilization of Water Resource Users Association Development Cycle (WDC) funds. The study is of significance to the WRUA, government and other development partners as it will add empirical evidence on the importance of governance on the rate of funds utilization. The study was carried out in the Upper Ewaso Nyiro Sub-region, Laikipia County and targeted a population of 559 members of the 7 WRUAs in Sub-catchment 5BE out of which a sample size of 85 was included for the study. The researcher administered questionnaires and focus group guide collect data with the assistance of a research assistant. The target population was the WRUA officials, ordinary members and water users from the Nanyuki, Likii, Ontulili, Siriomon, Timau, Ngusishi and Teleswani WRUAs. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data collected based on frequency. Correlation analysis using Pearsons product moment correlation was used to determine the relationship between the variables. The study found out that compliance to procedures of funds utilization was of most importance to utilization of WDC funds with a strong positive correlation coefficient of 0.854. It further found that management capacity especially in terms of staffing levels and financial, managerial and technical skills was important with a strong positive correlation of 0.641 with utilization of WDC funds. Participation was ranked of lowest importance with a correlation co-efficient of 0.118 in the utilization of WDC funds. Thus the study recommends training of WRUA to improve skills and enhance knowledge on compliance to WDC procedures. Also the involvement of all stakeholders at stages of the project cycle is important to enhance transparency and build the confidence of community members and development partners.