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Water Resources Users Associations (WRUAs) have the responsibility to increase water conservation efforts among their member. This responsibility forms part of their mandate in the protection of water quality and quantity in their sub catchment. The WRUAs serve as a critical bridge between Water Resources Authority and water users within a sub catchment and are critical to improved water resource management.

However, most WRUAs struggle to operate and address water resource issues within their sub catchments due to lack of capacity, resources, and funds to run their operations and activities. They provide few services as a result. Simply put, without resources the WRUA model is not working.

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership is piloting the WRUA agency model in order to address these shortcomings. The WRUA agency model describes an arrangement between WRA and a WRUA, in which the WRA pays the WRUA for specific services. This role is envisaged in the Water Act 2016. The model is yet to be operationalized but it does provide an opportunity to redefine the WRA-WRUA relationship around specified deliverables in a way that also improves WRUA operations, financing and WRA functions.  To accelerate the operationalization of this model, WRA headquarters needs to endorse and approve this approach. Moreover, WRUA capacity needs improvement to undertake specific services contracted by the WRA.

MKEWP is leading adoption of this new model with its development partners the World Bank and CORDAID. They are also working with WRUAs to build their capacity to improve on their governance and service delivery.

There’s some important history here. Private-public partnerships within the basin have been shown to work well. For example, Ngusishi WRUA, in Timau, operates a functional service-based WRUA with support from its membership. Their membership is drawn from commercial growers, small scale farmers, and the WRA. Water fee collections actually provide the WRA with the ability to contract Ngusishi WRUA, and in turn, the WRUA is seen to provide value-added services to its members.

MKEWP will nurture similar partnership in other WRUAs to improve WRUA capacities. To kick-off this model, 7 WRUAs will be selected this year for piloting. Their success will build a case to scale the WRUA agency model within the Ewaso Ng’iro Basin and the Country.

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