1st Edition

Pro-Poor Strategies in Urban Water Provisioning What Kenyan Water Utilities Do and Why They Do It

By Akosua Sarpong Boakye-Ansah Copyright 2021

    Water utilities are the main instrument for countries to achieve universal service coverage. In pursuing universal service coverage, water utilities have turned to pro-poor water services to extend water services in low-income areas. This thesis discusses the use of pro-poor water services by water utilities in Kenya, with the intention of highlighting the dimensions of the approach that require attention of policy makers and practitioners when engaging with the concept. Based on the analysis of the technologies, financial and organisational arrangements associated with the pro-poor concept, this thesis shows that the use of pro-poor strategies allows water utilities to reduce the risks of servicing low-income areas while still claiming to fulfil their mandate of providing access to all in a commercially viable manner. The analysis also shows that rather than a decision of the water utility, the choice for pro-poor strategies emerges as the result of a consensus or compromise between the different actors that constitute the broader institutional environment in which water utilities operate. The thesis concludes that while pro-poor water services may serve the interests of water utilities and other stakeholders, in the absence of well-directed subsidies and proper monitoring they will not result in low-income households benefiting from more affordable and reliable access to water.

    1 Introduction
    1.1 Evolution of Pro-Poor Services
    1.2 Research Objectives
    1.3 Methodology

    2 Literature Review
    2.1 Introduction
    2.2 From MII to Pro-Poor Services
    2.3 Pro-Poor Services: Appropriate Technology, Finance and Organisation
    2.4 Popularity of Pro-Poor Approaches: Balancing Financial and Social Objectives
    2.5 Conclusion

    3 Aligning Stakeholder Interests: How ‘Appropriate Technologies’ Have Become the Accepted Water Infrastructure Solutions for Low-Income Areas in Kenya
    3.1 Introduction
    3.2 Methodology
    3.3 Case Study
    3.4 Results: Unpacking the Interests and Preferences of the Different Actors
    3.5 Discussion: Aligning the Interests and Interdependencies of Stakeholders and Appropriate Technologies
    3.6 Conclusion

    4 From Rowdy Cartels To Organized Ones? The Transfer of Power in Urban Water Supply in Kenya
    4.1 Introduction
    4.2 Approaches towards Formalization of Informal Providers
    4.3 Methodology
    4.4 Drivers for the Producer Perspective on Formalization
    4.5 Formalizing Informal Providers through Partnership
    4.6 Concluding Remarks

    5 The Pragmatism of Adopting Pre-Paid Water Dispensers: Insights from Two Kenyan Water Utilities
    5.1 Introduction
    5.2 Theoretical Framework: Pragmatism
    5.3 Methodology
    5.4 The Mixed Mandate of Kenyan Water Utilities
    5.5 Water Service to Low-Income Areas in Kisumu and Nakuru
    5.6 The reasons for Introducing Pre-paid Water Dispensers in Kisumu
    5.7 The introduction of PPDs in Nakuru
    5.8 Discussion
    5.9 Conclusion

    6 The Appropriateness of ‘Appropriate Technologies’ in Improving Access to Utility Water in Urban Low-Income Areas: Evidence from Kenya
    6.1 Introduction
    6.2 Service Differentiation in Urban Water Supply
    6.3 Methodology
    6.4 Results
    6.5 Discussion and Concluding Remarks: For Whom are Appropriate Technologies Appropriate?

    7 Conclusion
    7.1 Introduction
    7.2 Pro-Poor As a Pragmatic Move to Balance Dual Mandates of Water Utilities
    7.3 Pro-Poor Strategies as a Pragmatic Move to Align the Interest of Stakeholders
    7.4 Reflections: The Equity of Pro-Poor Services


    Akosua Sarpong Boakye-Ansah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Laboratory Technology from the University of Cape-Coast, Ghana and a Master’s degree (cum laude) in Water Management from the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (formerly UNESCO-IHE Delft Institute for Water Education). Between the periods of 2007 and 2015, she worked with the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) first as Chemist/Bacteriologist in a Central Water Laboratory and then as a Process Chemist for the Barekese treatment works, in the Ashanti region of Ghana. In this capacity, she was responsible for the treatment of water and ensuring the overall quality of water treated on the plant.

    In 2015, she started her PhD research with the Water Governance department of the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. Her research formed part of the project, Performance Enhancement of Water Utilities in Kenya through benchmarking, collective learning and innovative financing (PEWAK). As a practitioner, she is experienced in drinking and wastewater treatment, water quality assessment and water distribution. As a researcher, she is interested in social, political, institutional and governance aspects of water services and has been involved in research in different countries including Ghana, Malawi and Kenya.