The current conflict over water between Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria and Nairobi County government needs to be handled with utmost care.
When the Water Act 2002 came into effect, it created several bodies with distinct but complementary roles that saw the sector work harmoniously towards water management, regulation, financing and provision.
Upon the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, water provision became a county government function leading to the enactment of the Water Act 2016 to align the previous law to the new constitution.
Water is a natural resource and, therefore, a national resource. The provision of water is vested in the county governments through the water service provision companies.
Water being a basic right as stipulated in the Bill of Rights and Article 43 of the Constitution, it means that the narrative by the Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui and Nairobi Governor and MCAs’ that Murang’a residents do not deserve compensation for the water that goes to Nairobi is a fallacy.
The leadership of Murang’a County, and indeed other cross-border water projects like that of Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu County should engage soberly and the Senate should step in to resolve the matter.
The Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly in its 2015 Finance Bill levied Sh3 million to Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company for water abstracted from Chebara Dam and Kaptagat forest, but this is yet to be implemented.
In the Water Act 2016, there is no clear body that is mandated to conserve the water sources or plough back finances that are levied for abstraction to water service providers for conservation purposes.
It is therefore imperative that there is need for a legislation on how the country’s water catchment should be conserved to compliment the Kenya Forest Service and the Water Towers Agency.
Counties should be at the centre of spearheading conservation of water catchment areas within their jurisdiction.
Water Resource Users Associations, which were formed to conserve and handle water conflict resolutions at the grassroots level, hardly exist because they have no finances and even what they get from Water Resource Authority and Water Service Providers as social responsibility cannot conserve an inch of our forests.
Yes, water source counties should be compensated by those counties that receive their water to finance conservation of the resource.
David Chemweno, Save Kenya Water Towers