Water is life and life is priceless!
Living amidst a COVID 19 pandemic period only further proves how valuable and precious a commodity water really is. It’s not only key for handwashing which is an effective tool for prevention of COVID 19 infection, but is also paramount for our very own existence and livelihood. Promoting good water governance is therefore essential and should be prioritized.
The Water Governance House Forum
The Water Governance House under Utafiti Sera in collaboration with Partnership for African Social & Governance Research (PASGR), seeks to build a community of Practice from diverse backgrounds and specialties who will be intentional and deliberate about putting in place activities and measures that will successfully promote evidence on informed policy making.
On 24th Sept 2021, KEWASNET organized first stakeholders’ forum on water governance that attracted over 30 key WASH sector players to. This initiative was driven by an understanding and commitment to the global and national calls for good governance where water, its access and people’s rights to water is concerned. These WASH sector players were identified through a rigorous stakeholder mapping exercise to ensure a 360-degree representation of the people politically, academically, economically and at the grass root levels are represented.
During the half day event at the Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi Kenya, Mr. Malesi Shivaji, the CEO KEWASNET, noted that although there have been considerable improvements in water governance over the years in Kenya, a lot still needs to be done that includes making sound evidence- based decisions, working towards realization of human rights, proper documentation and monitoring for continuous improvement.
Indeed, this forum was crucial as the Water Governance House was formalized, the members of the House validated the stakeholders mapping process, and refined the House focus.
The members of the Water Governance House suggested more members that should be brought on board including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation. Additionally, there is need to provide training opportunities for the next generation of researchers such as university students and environmentalists to secure accountable future generations that will be committed to bridge the gaps between research and policy.
Key resolutions from the forum, strategy on stakeholder engagement and the way forward The next steps and the way forward were built from the stakeholders’ engagement and contribution as follows:
- The policy uptake in water governance needs to be guided through engagement in policy spaces for relevance, effectiveness and sustainability as articulated in PASGR’s “The Diamond of influence Model”
- Adopt innovative financing of water/WASH research activities to bring on board funding partners and analyze the practicability of expanding the focus areas.
iii. Shape conversation around solid waste management by engaging key players e.g. National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to fuel water and sanitation policy uptake
- Participate in intergovernmental programs that are aligned with the National Government’s priorities and agenda to have an edge while building evidence research-based proposals
- Seek opportunities to influence national budgeting for WASH projects while looking into issues of water pricing and tariffs
- Consider focusing on the issue of Non-Revenue Water as it continues to plague our Water Utilities.
vii. Define the values of the Water Governance House.
The house’s constitution should also include members of the Accountability for Water programme National Advisory Group, Water Sector Trust Fund, and Kenya Water Institute (KEWI), pointing out that KEWI’s Act is undergoing review offering the house an opportunity to tap into the public participation. In conclusion, the review of the water sector strategy flagged out governance as the main issue plaguing the WASH sector. Therefore, the Water Governance House is rightfully placed to contribute to addressing water governance issues at National and sub national level