An Analysis of Water Governance in Kibera, Kenya


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Populations in urban slums continue to rise due to the relatively affordable shelter provision. Most slums are neither planned nor formal and therefore lack basic service delivery. Despite the fact that the majority of inhabitants in these slums are low-wage earners, they are forced to pay more for basic needs such as water than their neighbours in ‘affluent’ and ‘well-to-do’ neighbourhoods. This paper analyses the water governance problems in Africa’s arguably biggest slum Kibera (Kenya), and zeroes in on the Public-Private Partnership between the two biggest water suppliers in the slum, who, due to their troublesome partnership, have considerably contributed to the on-going water governance chaos.

It also attempts to make plausible recommendations for remedying the problems. By discussing some theoretical standpoints and relating them to the study, we find that they provide strengths to the analysis despite some weaknesses in their theoretical foundations. Our main conclusions are that the water governance problems in Kibera are multi-faceted in which corruption has been a factor disrupting the governance system and aggravating the water governance problems, and consequently there should be some alternatives to improve the situation. This include convening multi-lateral and bilateral dialogues on effective water governance involving the stakeholders, and establishing an Association of Water Consumers, who will represent and protect all the households using water in Kibera.

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