The Kenya Water Act 2016 provides for the establishment of Water Resource Users Associations (WRUA) for the collaborative management of water resources and to manage water use conflicts at sub catchment levels. The Water Act anticipates that WRUAs are supported to have sufficient capacity to play an effective role. The Act therefore places a responsibility on the Basin Water Resource Committees (BWRC) to ‘facilitate the establishment and operations of the water resource user associations’. To date approximately 400 WRUAs have been established. However, the number of well-performing WRUAs is really insignificant, and the major constraint to WRUA capacity is the lack of financial resources for basic operations. Thus, many of our user associations fail to meet their responsibilities.
The existing framework for a WRUA is developed is through the WRUA Development Cycle, which provides technical and financial guidelines for WRUA development and growth. This framework is project oriented, focusing on financing WRUAs to develop sub catchment management plans and its implementation. Subcatchment management plans, however, are hugely expensive to conduct.
Moreover, the existing gap in the Cycle is the lack of a business plan or financial sustainability strategy to support WRUA daily operations. WRUAs with better performance are financed by members to meet costs for operations. However, there exists no policy guidance on how this is approached, and how members leverage funding from either County or National government.
This is unfortunate, as we’ve found that the best performing WRUAs complement the functions of the regional and local Water Resources Authority, and the County Government.
WRUA financing is a pervasive problem that needs addressing to achieve stronger WRUA institutions and sustainability.
MKEWP is working with 7 WRUAs within the Upper Ewaso Basin to document and build a strong case for financial resource allocations to WRUAs to support operational costs and service delivery.
The 7 WRUAs are Naromoru, Likii, Teleswani, Ngusishi, Ngare Ndare, Ndare Nything and Isiolo WRUAs. This is supported through the “WRUA Institutional Development Project” (WIDP) implemented with the goal to strengthen WRUA institutional and financial capacity for sustainable water resource use and management at the sub-catchment level.
This project is funded by World Bank through 2030 WRG Kenya to MKEWP. The project implementation is supervised by a committee selected by the MKEWP Council. Laikipia Forum serves as the Secretariat to MKEWP.