Water rights in Kenya

'We work with communities to advocate for sustainable policies and practices that promote access to clean, safe and sufficient water for domestic and agricultural use. We capacity build communities to form Water Resource Users Associations (WRUA) that are vehicles for water conservation and climate change adaption and mitigation.'

According to the Constitution in Article 259 land includes any body of water on or under the surface. Despite this, according to the water rights, a landowner has no property in running water. The land ownership only gives him the natural right to use the running water. In Kenya, the management, conservation, use and control of water resources is governed by the Water Act of 2002 .The Act also provides for the acquisition and regulation of rights to use water and for the regulation of water supply and sewerage services.

We call for improved conservation and management of water supplies in order to protect the water rights for the people of Kenya. Article 43 of the Constitution states that every person has a right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities.

These shows that availability, quality and accessibility of water in Kenya is still wanting. Most of these challenges are 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. The poor, mainly women and girls, spend a significant amount of time travelling some distance to collect water.

This leaves the country's inhabitants vulnerable to serious dangers such as exposure to the elements and risk of attack by predators, they become more susceptible to water-borne diseases. Water pathogens are a huge health problem in Kenya because most people in the country are not protected against random epidemics such as cholera. The rate at which they are exposed to these is very high for the water is not only contaminated at the basins and pumps where water is collected but also the containers which they use to fetch the water most of them are second-hand objects which were previously used for oil, fertilizer or wastes.

Water and sanitation crisis in Kenya still remain very critical and Growth Partner Africa is committed in ensuring that water rights guaranteed in the Constitution is realized by all people of Kenya.

Growth partners Africa is an organization that has picked up the duty of enlightening the public on the conservation and management of water.

Democratization of water justice

Article 43 of the Constitution provides that every person has a right to a clean and safe water in adequate quantities. From the facts mentioned above, it shows that this right has not been fully realized by the people of Kenya.

Goal 6 of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) is on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Access to water is a human right which was approved in resolutions by the UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council in 2010. Ensuring that access to water and sanitation is provided for all is a question of democratic politics.

We are committed in ensuring that Goal 6 is fully achieved in Kenya by ensuring that access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure to all and more importantly to those who cannot afford to pay the full cost of these services is guaranteed.

One of the major problems in achieving democratization of the water justice is commodification water and this includes privatization of water resources and water-based services. The effect of this is that it leads to conversion of natural goods into marketable private property. In Kenya, this has been seen through the rise of the bottled water industries and commodification of water has denied many Kenyan access to water. Further, in ensuring accessibility of water services to all, there is need for inclusionary societal projects rather than exclusionary projects. The later produce inequality and injustice by treating water as a commodity which should be available to only those who can afford it. We call for inclusive projects that are grounded on the principles of equality and substantive, material democracy, and which conceive access to these services to be a public good that must be guaranteed by the state.

A large population continues to lack adequate access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities which has been the result of structural social injustice and inequality in Kenya. Most policy decisions in relation to water and sanitation services in Kenya have always been implemented without public participation. The practice in Kenya has been that water politics and management are rarely transparent to citizens and lack accountability. We help in ensuring that the laws and policies that are passed are presented to the public to seek their views and hence ensure public participation.


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