2011/2012 Yearbook Environment


Although updated statistics about access to water is not available, estimates put the nationally piped water coverage at between 42 per cent and 59 per cent in 2009. The rest rely on water kiosks, protected wells, rainwater catchment, and open water sources such as flowing streams and shallow open wells to meet their daily water needs. Rural areas perform consistently worse than urban areas. In rural areas, where 78 per cent of the national population lives, only 38 per cent to 52 per cent have easy access to safe water. However, according to the Economic Survey 2012, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, continued to pursue development programmes geared towards increasing water and sanitation coverage through construction and rehabilitation of water, sewerage and irrigation infrastructure.

Some of the water projects completed in 2011 include the construction of Maruba dam in Machakos, Kisumu Water Supply Project, rehabilitation of Sasumua dam and Olbanita water project in Nakuru, thus increasing access to water services. Four medium sized multi-purpose dams namely Kiserian in Kajiado, Umma in Kitui, Chemasusu in Koibatek and Badassa in Marsabit are in different phases of completion. Other projects undertaken during the year include rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, among them Ahero, Mwea, Hola and Bura, and construction of 75 new small holder irrigation schemes across the country. The survey further indicates that the Government, in collaboration with other stakeholders, continued to increase access to safe water through drilling of boreholes and maintenance of water purification points across the country.

The completion and commissioning of Kisumu Water Supply Project in Nyanza increased the number of water purification points. Regions with high number of water purification plants include Rift-Valley, Central, Western, Nyanza and Eastern Provinces. Eighty nine boreholes were drilled in 2011/12, compared to 95 in 2010/2011. Thirty two were drilled in Rift-Valley, 19 in Eastern, 12 in Nyanza and 11 in North-Eastern. Total development expenditure in water supply grew by 14.0 per cent from KShs31.1 billion ($36.6 million) in 2010/11 to KShs35.4 billion ($417 million) in 2011/12. The increase in funding to the water and irrigation sub-sector is mainly attributed to the high priority accorded to the sub-sector in the Medium Term Plan (MTP).

Capital expenditure on water development grew by 19.1 per cent from KShs21.8 billion (Kshs256 million) in 2010/11 to KShs25.9 billion ($305 million) in 2011/12. The increased funding was mainly for the development of urban water supplies infrastructure undertaken by the water services boards. The increased funding of the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation (NWCPC) by 9.9 per cent was mainly in water conservation and dam construction. Likewise, funding to the rural water supplies increased by 13.2 per cent from KShs1.3 billion ( $15.4 million) in 2010/11 to KShs1.5 billion ($17 million) in 2011/12. However, spending by the National Irrigation Board (NIB) declined for the second consecutive year from KShs2.4 billion ($28 million) in 2010/11 to KShs1.8 billion ($21.7 million) in 2011/12. Although Kenya is among the few countries in the world endowed with abundant fresh water masses water storage has declined from 11 cubic metres per capita to an alarmingly low value of below five cubic metres per capita.

The Nile, one of the world’s longest rivers, rises in Kenya and it is fed by dozens of tributaries that emerge in the expansive Rift Valley. The country also has a part of Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is responsible for ensuring Kenyans have access to clean safe water, for domestic as well as industrial use. To meet its mandate, the ministry has put in place numerous programmes, strategies and policies. These include Water Resources Management Policy; Water and Sewerage Services Policy, Water Quality and Pollution Control, Dam Construction Schemes; Flood Control and Land Reclamation; Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Policy, Public Water Schemes and Community Water Projects. Some of the institutions established to implement the policies, strategies and programmes are the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation; Kenya Water Institute; National Irrigation Policy; National Irrigation Board (NIB); Water Services Regulatory Board; Water Resources Management Authority; Water Appeal Tribunal; Water Services Boards; and Water Services Trust Fund.

The distribution and management of water is done through 126 regional water and sewerage companies. These companies were formed in 2003 when the Government decided to place the distribution of water into private hands. There are plans to reduce the number to 47.

Kenyan National Water Sector Strategy (2007 – 2015)

The Kenyan National Water Sector Strategy (2007 – 2015) seeks to attain a 75 per cent access to safe and reliable water for urban areas and 70 per cent for rural areas . The year 2011 was crucial because it was the mid-point in the implementation of this key project. Its overall aim is to contribute to the provision of improved water supply and sanitation in a number of small towns where water-supply coverage varies from below 20 per cent to around 50 per cent. These include Bondo, Siaya, Maua, Othaya, Mukurwe-ini and Kitui. The present infrastructure in some of these towns, built in the 1950s, is inadequate.

The goals of the NWSS (2007 – 2015) are: •

  • Access to safe drinking water to increase from 57 per cent in 2006, to 90 per cent by 2030
  • Access to improved sanitation to increase from 55 per cent in 2006, to 70 per cent by 2030
  • Mortality rate to decrease from 115 per 1,000 in 2003 to 18 per 1,000 in 2030
  • Reduce the number of people living below the poverty line from 45.9 per cent in 2006 to 21.7 per cent in 2030
  • Water supply and coverage to improve from 42 per cent in 2009 to 70 per cent in 2015
  • Time for fetching water to reduce from (on average) two hours per day in 2009 to 0.5 hours per day in 2015
  • Average daily hours of supply to increase from less than eight hours per day in 2009 to 24 hours per day in 2015
  • There will be increased revenue stream generated
  • There will be increased percentage of the population practising good hygiene and sanitation from 55 per cent in 2009 to 70 per cent by 2015
  • Incidence of diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera to reduce by at least 50 per cent by 2015
  • Maternal mortality rate to reduce from 414/100,000 births in 2006 to 171/100,000 births by 2015
  • Irrigated area under this programme to increase from 700 ha to 2,500 ha by 2015

At the policy level, the ambitious Sector Reform (2003-2013), a joint initiative of the Government of Kenya and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development that started in 2003 remained on course. Its last phase that started in January 2011 has five support components: water sector reform; regulatory authority; poverty fund, through the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF); and plot sanitation.


Kenya has a vast potential for irrigation, estimated at 539,000ha. This includes 200,000ha in the Lake Victoria Basin, 64,000ha in the Kerio Valley, 205,000ha in the Tana Basin, 40,000ha in the Athi Basin, and 30,000ha in the Ewaso Ngiro Basin. A number of irrigation schemes have been created in the past to help boost food production by increasing cropland, among them, Bura, Bunyala, Mwea, Perkerra, Tana (Hola), West Kano, and Ahero. Other schemes, covering 23,640 hectares, have been proposed. These include Taveta, Turkwel, Arror and Kano plains. In addition, there are a number of schemes established and run by private investors.

It is hoped that these schemes will help communities produce enough food for home consumption as well as for sale. Thus, irrigation is being seen as the answer to the dwindling food productivity in Kenya. However, about Kshs100 billion ($1.2 billion) is required to erect about 30 dams in parts of the country. The Government is looking for more than $1 billion (about Sh90 billion) over the next decade as part of a plan to develop water storage facilities that will provide water security for Kenya in times of drought caused by the effects of climate change. Already up to Kshs8.5 billion ($100 million) had been spent this year on irrigation projects, as the country strives to reclaim 40,000ha. With changing weather patterns having made a significant portion of the country to experience drought, the Government hopes to build reservoirs to make water available throughout the year.


The Kshs6.84 billion (80.4 million) rehabilitation of Sasumua Dam was completed and commissioned in June 2011. The dam, which serves Nairobi, had been damaged during the 2003 El Nino rains. The rehabilitation that started in 2009 was undertaken by Kenyan, French and Chinese experts.

Water Services Trust Fund

Almost 50 per cent of Kenyans have no access to a toilet with acceptable standards while only 19 per cent are connected to a sewer system. Twelve per cent are forced to open defecation. While coverage of safe drinking water in the urban low-income areas is now rapidly improving from the meagre 20 per cent in the past, the trend for sanitation is still pointing downwards. It is against this backdrop that the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) was established under the Water Act 2002. Its mission is to provide financial support for improved access to water and sanitation in areas without adequate services.

In June 2011, WSTF, German Financial Cooperation (KfW) and German Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a five-year Urban Sanitation Programme that aims to provide sustainable sanitation services to additional 800,000 people and reach 200,000 with safe water in the urban low-income areas. The programme targets the population in the “sanitation hotspots”, such as the informal, formal / unplanned and planned low-income urban settlements where child mortality is twice the national average.

Rainwater harvesting

With rainfall unreliable and investment in water storage low, the challenge has become how to harvest rainwater. In the 2011/12 Budget, Treasury allocated dry regions Kshs1.5 billion ($18 million) to help them construct 15 water harvesting pans with a storage capacity of 100,000 cubic metres of water. The amount signals the seriousness with which the Government considers rainwater harvesting as a crucial element in dealing with water scarcity. Non-state actors, like the Kenya Rainwater Association (KRA), have also been helping communities harvest water. KRA has been implementing rainwater harvesting and management (RHM) projects in dry parts of the country. The projects seek to improve access to water and therefore ensure food security and reduce poverty among rural communities. Community members work in partnership with KRA and donors to ensure the projects are successful and sustainable.

A KRA technical assistant is permanently based at every site to manage the project; oversee construction, build community capacity, liaise with local government officials and to ensure the project’s success. Joint initiatives have resulted in the implementation of projects countrywide, among them EU/Skillshare Integrated Rainwater Harvesting and Management in Eight Semi- Arid Districts of Kenya (2008–2011); New Life Mission Water, Food Security, and Child and Gender Rights, Mashuru Division (2010–2013); UNDP-GEF/SGP Climate Change Mitigation Project, Laikipia East District (2010–2011); and USAID-KHCP Rainwater Harvesting and Utilisation Project, Ukambani and Coast Regions (2011–2014). Some of these projects are ongoing while others are in their final stages.

The EU/Skillshare Integrated Rainwater Harvesting and Management in Eight Semi-Arid Districts of Kenya (2008–2011) integrates rainwater harvesting (farm ponds, earth dams/water pans, school roof catchment systems), improved sanitation (ventilated improved pit latrines-VIP), complementary technologies (drip irrigation, bee-keeping, vegetable growing), and rangeland rehabilitation (draught animal technologies and tree planting). Target districts include Baringo, Laikipia East, Laikipia West, Koibatek/Mogotio, Narok North, Narok South, Nyandarua North, and Transmara. The project is benefiting 20,000 people and schools in the communities.

Nairobi River

The Nairobi River Basin is an integral part of the ecology of Kenya’s capital city. It is covered by about a dozen parallel streams that run east to eventually pour into the Athi River. Some of the streams originate from the Aberdares and crisscross informal villages with hundreds of thousands of people and the industrial area full of factories. For decades, this basin has been on the receiving end of industrial effluent and domestic pollution. Tests downstream have revealed the lack of aquatic life in the rivers due to pollution. Drastic measures to give life to the basin were taken, with the Government directing in 2010 that a riparian area be fenced off and planted with trees along a stretch of 30 metres, be created.

This project complemented the ambitious Nairobi River Basin Programme (NRBP), implemented between 1999 and December 31, 2011. The initiative brought together the Government of Kenya, UNEP, UN-Habitat, UNDP, the private sector and civil society. The ultimate goal of NRBP was to restore the riverine ecosystem with clean water and a healthier environment for the people of Nairobi. It was to achieve this through rehabilitation, restoration and management of the Nairobi River ecosystem to improve livelihoods, especially for the poor, enhance biodiversity, and ensure sustainable supply of water for domestic, industrial, recreational and emergency uses. Just as the UNEP project was ending, another was being established to maintain the rhythm and effort towards a clean Nairobi.

The implementation of the Nairobi River Sewarage Reticulation Improvement Project started in June 2011 after its approval a year earlier. The objective of the project largely funded through a loan from the African Development Fund is to improve access, quality, availability, capacity and sustainability of waste water services in Nairobi through the rehabilitation and extension of sewerage services and waste water treatment facilities. The project focuses on the sewerage infrastructure so that the waste water being generated in the city is collected and directed to treatment facilities without being an environmental hazard.


According to Nema, the Kenya coastal and marine environment is endowed with a variety of natural resources that support livelihoods of a rapidly growing population currently estimated at 3.3 million. The resources include a great diversity of plants and animal life such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, sand dunes, seagrass, beds, estuaries and marine species. Of the 159 species of trees and shrubs considered threatened in Kenya, 38 per cent are at the coast as are a third of the 71 species of threatened birds. Besides supporting livelihoods, the resources also drive various economic activities including tourism, agriculture, maritime transport and fisheries, which make significant contributions to the local and national economy.

For instance, about 60 per cent of the contribution of tourism to the national economy is known to come from coastal tourism. However, pollution, over-exploitation of resources, destructive fishing practices, uncontrolled development and climate change pose a serious threat to the coastal and marine resources. Pollution from domestic, industrial and agricultural sources is causing degradation of water and sediment quality resulting in human health problems and loss of aesthetic value while uncontrolled development has led to conversion of habitats to other uses such as agriculture, mining and urban settlements. Unsustainable fishing practices have resulted in a decline of fisheries resources and consequently fish catches.

These pressures, if not addressed, will compromise the ability of the coastal and marine environment to provide ecosystem services and support socio-economic development. Nema jointly with Danida, and a host of government and non-state actors came up with the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Action Plan for Kenya, 2011-2015, to address the resource management challenges facing the coastal zone, including those posed by climate change.

The Nile

The Nile water has been a very controversial subject for decades. A colonial agreement between the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1929 gave the latter total user rights over the Nile, thus relegating other riparian states to the sidelines. This colonial relic provided that Egypt had to consent to any projects that sought to appropriate the river. The other riparian states have been uncomfortable with this arrangement. A series of meetings have been heldto try to redress this imbalance. The 33rd regular meeting in Nairobi deliberated on possible ways of sharing the Nile River water without causing conflicts among the riparian states.

It drew representatives from Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, and South Sudan. Ethiopia and Kenya continued with talks on how to resolve the row caused by the former’s decision to build the Gilgel Gibe III Dam on Omo River, which supplies water to Lake Turkana in Kenya. The Ethio-Kenya Joint Consultative Meetings took place throughout the year to seek an amiable understanding between the two countries over the matter. There has been fear that the dam could starve the Turkana community of its main sources of livelihood; fishing and pastoralism.