Coast governors have suffered a major blow after the national government turned down their proposal to delegate management of the Coast Water Works Development Agency to the counties to curb perennial water shortages facing the tourism hub.
Speaking under the auspices of the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP) economic bloc, the county chiefs led by JKP chairman Gideon Mung’aro alongside governors Andrew Mwadime (Taita Taveta) Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa) and Issa Timamy (Lamu) said having counties co-own the agency would enhance efficiency in the delivery of services and ease funding for water infrastructure projects.
The company, Governor Mung’aro pointed out, had been in existence for decades but no meaningful projects had been achieved in the region.
“We want our people to get water for drinking and irrigation,” he said. Speaking during the Kenya Water and Sanitation International Conference and Exhibition at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa, Mr Nassir said the bulk water companies need to be owned by the water service providers.
“But this requires a political decision, it is vital that this conversation takes place. A classic example is the Coast Water Works Development Agency which handles, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa and Taita Taveta counties. These counties need to co-own the agency,” said Mr Nassir.
Mr Mwadime, who chairs the Water, Natural Resources, Forestry and Sewerage Committee at the Council of Governors, called for collaboration between the counties and national government in addressing water issues.
“Water is life. Sixty years after attaining our independence, it’s interesting to note that in some counties in Kenya, people trek as far as 20 kilometres to fetch water. We must work towards addressing such challenges besieging our people. Mzima Springs need a new piping system; it is dilapidated,” said Mr Mwadime.
Only 55.3 per cent (2.4 million people) of the population in the Coast region (4.1 million) have access to piped water.
Mzima Two water project
The governors also pushed for the Mzima Two water project to boost supply.
“Mzima Two is a crucial project that will increase water supply in the region and curb shortages,” said Mr Mwadime.
However, Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome maintained that the agency will remain a national government asset.
“Water development agencies are for the management of bulk water. They then transmit [the water] to counties. The law allows the agencies to remain the property and assets of the national government. That does not take anything away from the mandate of the counties in terms of distribution and service provision,” the CS said.
She said the construction of the Sh18 billion Mwache Dam and Sh35 billion Mzima Two would boost the provision of water services in the region.
The construction of the dam located in Kwale County has already kicked off while that of the second Mzima pipeline is yet to start due to financial constraints. The Mzima pipeline that is presently in place has been experiencing frequent bursts due to dilapidated pipes. The l Mzima Two water project is expected to ease pressure on the existing infrastructure.