With the world’s attention focused on Kenya’s recent elections, it would be easy to overlook many other issues facing the country. In the last ten years, the country has witnessed a series of reforms aimed at improving access to clean, safe water. Water Action Groups (WAGs), meanwhile, have attempted to get citizens actively engaged in water provision and services, but have frequently found that consumers are unaware of their rights and unable to hold water service providers to account. WAGs have addressed this through community fora and have also taken up unresolved issues on behalf of consumers and followed up on them until they were resolved. The WAG pilot project was hugely successful and won a number of awards.
We’re delighted to have awarded a grant of £15,000 to one of those groups, Water and Livelihoods Reforms Network, to establish a ‘consumer info desk and data desk’. This will entail the creation of a website containing detailed information on water in Kenya. This builds on the 40+ community fora they have held to date and is a way of providing information to a much wider constituency. It will also contain an ‘issue management system’ allowing citizens to report problems or request information via SMS or email. In the initial stages, they will focus on the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company and the Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company. They will also use push SMS messaging to inform consumers of their rights with regard to water provision and service provider customer charters. £7,000 would be spent on technology development, while a further £6,000 would go towards management and staff costs. The remaining £2,000 is to be spent on platform promotion.
We think this project very much complements the work of the iHub and their water and sanitation hackathon, which we blogged about last week. What both of these projects show is that water and sanitation are key issues facing Kenya right now. Hardly surprising given the current strain on water resources in the country – a strain that is only likely to increase over the coming years.