Every year, I am sent to different parts of the world to undertake vital developmental and humanitarian tasks. In 2005, the Swedish government made a grant to Kenya and I set off to this tropical East African country.
This grant was based on the Swedish Cooperation Strategy with Kenya and the Kenya Joint Assistance Strategy (KJAS), which was agreed upon by the Kenyan government and its main development partners. The grant was part of Swedish development cooperation whose overall goal is to create conditions that enable the poor to improve their lives.
Why did I travel for thousands of miles, across oceans, just to be here in this East African country? The answer to this question can be found in the words of Abraham Lincoln two centuries ago, ‘I can make more generals, but horses cost money.’
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here because without me, the means of executing a strategy often remain beyond reach. In essence, I help to actualize good intentions. I am here so that the horses can be bought to ferry generals towards victory.
My first stop after arriving in Kenya was at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. What a place it was! The Ministry was located in a sturdy building that stood silently behind Nairobi’s Uhuru Park. I was there for one of the many meetings that were held between representatives of the Embassy of Sweden, Ministry officials and other water sector stakeholders.
I was the main agenda during most of the meetings since I had to be put into good use now that I had arrived. One of my primary destinations was the Kenya Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (KWSP). For more than five years from 2005 – 2010, I strolled the watery corridors of the water sector institutions, from Nairobi through to national and local levels, in the company of Kenyan Shillings and Danish Kroner trying to ensure the enhancement of water quality and quantity.
As a rule, I never execute action – I only facilitate it. This means that those who execute the action must be men and women of integrity who will diligently execute the agreed upon action in order to realize desirable outputs in a timely fashion. In other words, they’ve got to make it happen just as it was intended!
My work at KWSP was to facilitate action that would result in reliable provision of water services, sustainable management of water resources and steadfast implementation of water sector reforms from 2005 to end of 2010.
In 2002, three years prior to my arrival, Kenya had enacted the Water Act 2002. It was a landmark enactment that provided a vibrant and productive legislative framework for Kenya’s Water Sector. Although a lot had been done to implement this landmark Act, a lot more still needed to be done.
As Aristotle once said, ‘the law is reason, free from passion.’ Although a good water law was now in place, it couldn’t implement itself. Passion had to team up with reason if sustainable action was to be attained. All water Stakeholders needed to take informed and united action that would operationalise the Water Act. Towards this end, I facilitated the effective establishment of eight Water Sector Boards that are now responsible for the efficient and economical provision of water and sewerage services within their area of jurisdiction.
Even after these Boards had been set up, I continued asking myself what more could be done to ensure that water consumers at the local level are not short-changed in any way. In order to ensure accountable usage of financial resources, I subsequently assisted in the establishment of the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF).
WSTF is a State Corporation that was established under the Water Act, 2002. Its mandate is to ‘assist in financing the provision of water services to areas of Kenya which are without adequate water services.’ In this regard, it acts as a basket fund for mobilizing resources and providing financial assistance towards capital investment costs of providing Water Service and Sanitation (WSS).
‘Great!’ I exclaimed after my encounter with WSTF. I already had a plan up my sleeve so I quickly facilitated an alliance between the Water Service Boards and WSTF. This alliance birthed the ‘Community Project Cycle (CPC),’ a new investment framework for rural water and sanitation services.
CPC was a resource allocation procedure that prioritized fifty poorest areas in each Water Service Board jurisdiction. Through CPC, poor communities all across Kenya were targeted for funding that would help them meet their water needs. Such funding was demand-driven and not politically instigated. There was no greater joy for me than to see people who needed my help receiving it.
Although this funding has provided much needed help to many Kenyans, many more communities in the country still need help. The Kenya Water Supply and Sanitation Programme did not have the finances to fund all the target locations and there continues to be a serious funding deficit in the WSTF. It is therefore vital for the Kenyan government to step in and fund the target communities that are yet to receive help.
Indeed, the flow of solidarity from my country Sweden and other partners can only result in a constant flow of water if the Kenya government remains vigilant and fully responsive to the water needs of Kenyans.Add to Favorites