Impact of ownership of water resources and associated facilities to its access and management in the asal Kitui County, Kenya

Keziah Ngugi, M.W. Ertsen, Maina Gichaba, Stephen M. Mureithi

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In Kenya, where 80% of the land is arid and semi-arid, access to water is an everyday challenge for majority of the people. Methods used to improve access to water in Kenya results to different, and sometimes unexpected outcomes. The water resources assessed have come about through interventions by various agents, majority donor funded. These agents use various models resulting to different outcomes. We assessed technologies used to improve access to water in the Asals of Kitui County, Kenya. The technologies were classified into four; individual, private, community and government owned. Those assessed were tanks, boreholes and hand dug wells, sand dams and pipelines for individual, private, community and government owned respectively. Private and individual resources outperformed others in terms of management with donor aided community owned being the least sustainable. Government owned water facilities reached relatively more people and although unreliable were the most trusted source to those covered by the infrastructure. Individual owned water resources offered water in small quantities, the main benefit being owners were able to manage with ease through rationing to stretch availability for a long time. Donor funded community owned resources suffered vague ownership models making their management and maintenance impossible. Privately owned resources offered the best solution as water was sold and the resulting money become income for the owners as well as providing resources for maintenance. The resulting income offered incentives for further investment which further improved access. The tragedy with privately owned water resources was that the poor paid too much for water while the rich continued to accumulate massive wealth. To ensure adequate access to water especially in remote places, privately owned and operated systems should be encouraged and supported but with government sponsored regulations to ensure the poor are not exploited.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventAfrica Knows!: It is time to decolonise minds - Virtual event
Duration: 2 Dec 202028 Feb 2021


ConferenceAfrica Knows!
Internet address


  • Water resources
  • water resources ownership
  • donor aid

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