The Water & Sanitation Crisis in Kenya
With a population of 46.7 million, 37 percent of Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while 70 percent of Kenyans use unimproved sanitation solutions. This translates into more than 17.3 million people using unimproved water sources and 32.7 million people using unimproved sanitation facilities.
These challenges are especially evident in the rural areas and the urban slums. Only 9 out of 55 public water service providers in Kenya provide continuous water supply, leaving people to find their own ways of searching for appropriate solutions to these basic needs. Under these circumstances, the poor, particularly women and girls, spend a significant amount of time travelling some distance to collect water.
Water.org has been implementing direct impact programs in Kenya since 2005 and WaterCredit programs since 2010. To date, our direct impact programs in Kenya have reached over 175,000 people, providing them with access to safe water and sanitation through funding from John Deere and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.
From 2010 to 2015, with support from the Mastercard Foundation, Water.org introduced the first large-scale WaterCredit initiative in Africa, proving the viability of this market-based approach in Kenya. Water.org partnered with both microfinance and commercial financial institutions to develop and integrate water and sanitation lending into their portfolios. The initiative achieved more than double its projected impact, providing 425,000 people access to water and sanitation in both Kenya and Uganda.
The WaterCredit program provided valuable insight into scaling WaterCredit throughout Kenya. However, the water and sanitation crisis in Kenya remains critical, and Water.org is in the process of developing new ways to scale WaterCredit to reach even more people. For example, we are currently exploring alternative channels, for WaterCredit implementation with the goal of achieving a bigger impact through partnering with larger commercial banks, digital financial service providers, and water service providers.
We recently launched the first program incorporating new channels for service delivery, through a partnership with Equity Bank Kenya Limited. The five-year program consists Individual lending for WSS via Equitel Mobile, lending to water and sanitation SMEs, suppliers and manufacturers, and corporate lending to water service utilities. We are also exploring a similar partnership with the Family Bank in Kenya.
Going forward, we are in the process of launching a similar program design with other commercial banks, as well as continuing working with household-level WaterCredit microfinance institutions to reach more people with access to water and sanitation services with market-based solutions in Kenya.