“The WRUA Agency model seems to be a very promising initiative towards improving WRUA governance and financing. As members of Nyahururu WRUA, we fully welcome the piloting of this model in our catchment. However we must remain honest to ourselves that this model is still very new to us and as a result must be cautious of the challenges that may arise during its implementation.”
This are the sentiments of Mr. Anthony Kingori, the chair of Nyahururu WRUA, who believes that they are a strong candidate for the WRUA Agency model piloting project. He was keen to note however that much the financing of the WRUAs is becoming the focal point of discussion. Instead the fundamental and most important issue that needs addressing should be governance among the WRUAs and capacity building in Community Water Projects on members’ roles and mandates.
Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) are organizations that were formalized in 2002 after passage of the Water Act 2002. Their main mandate was to ensure sustainable water resource management. This entails:
- Water resource conflict resolution
- Increasing awareness on water conservation measures among its members
- Water resource and catchment protection
WRUAs are registered under the Registrar of Societies and are governed by a Constitution and by-laws. WRUA operations costs are designed to be covered by members (community water projects) contribution.
However, members’ contribution are only a fraction of what the WRUAs require to undertake their mandates. As a result, they end up turning to donors and well-wishers for financing. This threatens the sustainability of the WRUAs. Any WRUA committee efforts, such as catchment protection, i.e. riparian rehabilitation where they grow indigenous trees along the riparian areas, are a financial strain.
Ms. Joy Makena, the manager of Teleswani WRUA understands that the WRUA Agency Model must have the concurrence of the Water Resource Authority (WRA) to be successful. Only when the WRA delegates responsibilities to the WRUAs for catchment protection and compensates WRUAs for their services will the model be successful.
“With the funds realized from this, WRUAs capacity will be improved, financial sustainability will be guaranteed, WRUAs operations and financing will be upgraded, and governance and service delivery by the WRUAs will be enhanced, “explains Ms. Makena, with signs of hope emanating from her eyes. “Previously we’d talked about how we would like WRUAs to be self-reliant, but there was no clear explanation on how this would be achieved. But now one thing is clear, with the introduction of the WRUA Agency Model, WRUAs sustainability will be guaranteed in the long run.
Her sentiments, and those of Mr. Kingori. Are echoed by Burguret’s WRUA chair, Mr. Steve Mbao. “I cannot sit here and act like it is an all rosy affair within the WRUAs and Community Water Projects. There are more than enough cases of lack of trust amongst ourselves in terms of accountability and transparency and to be fair at times this lack of trust is very much justifiable due to the absence of proper Governance structures and lack of capacity within the WRUA management systems.”
Mr. Mbao confirms that indeed the initiative has come of age but suggests that all stakeholders involved must make governance the number one priority. Any finances issued must be issued to entities that can demonstrate great leadership structures, are accountable and fully transparent to their membership. “Financing must be based on merit, everyone must be able to report on how they intend to use the finances given, where they intend to use it and for who’s benefit,” insists Mr. Mbao.
Ngusishi WRUA chair and a board member of the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership
Mr. Peter Murithi, has been at the forefront advocating for the adoption of the model. He has at all times insisted that WRUAs must work towards being self-reliant. He believes the Model can only be achieved through strong governance structures and operations within the laws and by laws of the Water Resources Users Association. These are all stipulated within the Water Act 2016. MKEWP, the drivers of this agenda in return need to enhance and strengthen the governance and capacity of the pilot WRUAs to achieve full potential of the model.
Currently MKEWP is on a lobbying and Advocacy mission to ensure that the relevant stakeholders from National and County Governments are fully involved and aware of the WRUA agency model project in a bid to get their full support and endorsement before the piloting process begins.