Commercialization of Water Services: Manyatta, Kisumu

Increasing economic difficulties and changes in prevailing ideologies in African countries has since led to calls for a reduction in the role of the state in public service provision. The thrust for public services, particularly water, has thus been more towards commercialisation. Although well intended to help ensure a better and more efficient management of water resources, this policy shift is arguably laden with ambiguities that do not augur well for the consumers, especially the poor. In the informal settlements, the water service provision has not improved, as various studies show that commercialisation has contributed much less than expected to the improvement of the water supply with many service providers both private and public justifying the lack of service delivery in these areas with various reasons. Given that most o f the urban population growth is occurring in poor communities and settlements, the task of reaching the un-served is becoming increasingly difficult. This study sought to find out the challenges facing the current water supply system in informal settlements and how these challenges can be addressed.

A review of literature in this field was undertaken which elucidates both on the strengths and weakness of the various approaches used in water service delivery. These include the purely public sector approach of state-owned monopoly whose results have been disappointing as they are identified with high levels of waste and inefficiency, and the private companies whose aim is profit maximization and who find such areas not profitable or too risky, have also not achieved the desired status of water service delivery.

The study demonstrates that indeed, singly, both approaches seem not to be an answer for informal settlements. Out of the inadequacies and strengths of these approaches, the study proposes an integrated model, which captures the strengths of the various actors in the water sector including neglected but very important actor - the community indicating each party's input and degree of participation for sustainable water service delivery.

Both primary and secondary data were collected. The primary data was obtained from 70 household respondents sampled using the cluster sampling techniques. Thirty water operators were sampled using the non-probability sampling technique with the selection of the sample being deliberate. The key informants were also selected using a non-probability sampling technique based on the researches judgment. Spatial data such as the location of standpipes was collected using the Global Positioning System (GPS). Spatial analysis as well as various descriptive and inferential statistical analyses was performed. The information is graphically and spatially represented using tables, bar graphs, pie charts and maps.

The analysis presents the main sources and method of water delivery, the types of water providers and their areas of operation, the water distribution and coverage, the challenges in delivery and the opinions of the community in Manyatta informal settlement, Municipality of Kisumu.

In the examination of factors it was found that current system of commercialization has not improved the water supply to the poor in the informal settlements, as the level of access is still poor and coverage still low. The majority of the residents prefer for the management of the water supply to be handed over to Community Based Organisations effective delivery of water services.

It is, therefore, recommended that a partnerships approach that includes a broad set of actors be adopted and that this requires formal institutions to bring about legal and procedural changes to planning, policy formulation and providing partial financial support. Secondly, intermediaries should be included in the framework and their role recognised. Thirdly, water utilities need to find ways to mobilise and tap into funds from domestic financial markets and the small-scale providers should be legalised and included in the framework.

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