Strengthening Kenya’s institutional framework for urban sanitation

Themes: Planning Research Sanitation Urban Sanitation Research Initiative
Countries: Kenya

The establishment of a strong institutional framework for Kenya’s sanitation sector can help secure better urban sanitation outcomes by coordinating action, ensuring cooperation and generating commitment among the responsible organisations at all levels. Kenya’s institutional framework is currently in transition and the enactment of the Environmental and Sanitation Bill will provide the much-needed enabling environment for coordinated and regulated interventions, especially for low-income areas and informal urban settlements.

This research-into-policy work was carried out in close collaboration with WASREB (the national water regulator) and the Ministry of Health, and aimed to identify lessons from decentralised countries that have faced similar challenges, to engage Kenyan stakeholders to assess the lessons’ adaptability, and to identify a way forward and engage in policy dialogue in the context of the ongoing institutional reforms.

The main institutional bottlenecks identified in Kenya were:

  1. Overlap and competition for sector
  2. Weak incentives at sub-national level to commit policy attention to urban sanitation
  3. Limited regulatory oversight for onsite sanitation

The establishment of a harmonised approach to sanitation could solve a number of critical institutional limitations, which include functional overlaps, competition around sector leadership, weak political incentives for governments to commit policy attention to sanitation, and a disjointed legislative and regulatory framework for onsite sanitation service provision.