WATER AND SANITATION RIGHTS
Access to water and sanitation is indispensable for human survival and essential for enjoyment of other rights including the right to life, health and education. The Constitution of Kenya under Article 43 1(d) guarantees every Kenyan the right to water that is clean, safe and affordable. Part 1(b) further guarantee access to affordable sanitation that is acceptable and accessible. To date, only 56.9% percent and 63% of Kenyans have access to safe drinking water and affordable sanitation respectively, click to see the report here. This implies that 17 million and 13 million Kenyans have poor or no access to water and sanitation services correspondingly. Most affected are the people in poor urban informal settlements and rural areas. More information on qualifiers of water and sanitation rights can be found here. Hakijamii has been working with likeminded organizations, national & county governments, Water Action Groups and community organized groups to address the following issues:
Access to safe and clean drinking water is a challenge for 17 million Kenyans
Advocating for pro-poor policies in the water sector
Hakijamii has worked tirelessly at national and county levels to influence the outcome of policies and legislation. We gave input through submission of joint memorandums to parliament. Our input attempted to give the Bill a rights perspective and ensure that it addresses the concerns of the less fortune in poor urban informal settlements. The latest copy of the Bill can be accessed from here. The Bill is currently at the finalization stage in the National Assembly. Additionally we have worked with counties to formulate progressive county laws and policies that will advance the realization of water rights. In Mombasa, we meaningfully influenced the outcome of the County Water Bill to include public participation in water governance. At the international level, we prepared a parallel report which can be found here and submitted to the International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This was done purposely to press on the government to pass the National Water Bill 2014 and the National Water Policy 2012 which have been pending since 2010.
Water crisis in Mombasa’s Tudor Estate
Promoting water sector governance
Hakijamii works to promote integrity and proper water sector governance through capacity building for policy makers, water service providers and community partners. The organization has strengthened County Sectoral Committees in Nairobi, Garissa and Turkana with a view to enabling good water stewardship at county level. Hakijami participates in both national and international platforms addressing water rights challenges. This year’s World Water Day saw Hakijamii participated in a campaign designed to generate need for water resources management. Water is a critical commodity that has sustained livelihoods through creation of jobs, irrigation, promoting tourism and generation of hydro power. An article by Hakijamii on How Water creates jobs can be accessed through this link https://youtu.be/2rnIZxHoAxI.
The struggle for the diminishing water resources across the country
Through this engagement, we have been influencing water sector budget for counties to enhance water and sanitation service provision through allocation of sufficient resources. We have strengthened the capacity of community groups to engage with respective county governments departments working to WASH with a view to influencing budget outcomes in the sector.
Awareness creation and sensitization
Hakijamii works with communities disseminating policy information, budgeting processes and enabling the communities to understand the constitutional rights. Rights education is critical to holding the government to account. It also promotes transparency in government processes. Hakijamii build capacities for communities to understand Human Rights based Approaches (HRBA) to water and sanitation.
Group photo in Garissa after a capacity strengthening on Rights Based Approaches to water and sanitation in Garissa
Hakijamii works towards ensuring that there is adherence of water actors and institutions to water governance principles of transparency, accountability, and participation, based on core values of honesty, equity and professionalism. Water integrity is one of the most important means to achieving a water wise sector that is resistant to corruption. Hakijamii emphasizes on structured citizen engagement in addressing water integrity issues. We have conducted research and produced a paper that unearths the institutional, policy and legal challenges that must be addressed to promote water governance.
Hakijamii is currently engaging in discussions with various stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the following challenges:
Historical bills: These are water use bills that date back even before the new constitution was promulgated. These bills are a major hindrance to water and sanitation rights. Citizens have been disconnected by the Service Provider pending the payment of these bills that amounts into huge sums
Non Revenue Water: This is a challenge facing all the Water Service Providers (WSP) across the country. Hakijamii has commenced conversations with Water Action Groups, Water Working Groups and Community Water Committees to mitigate this challenge. This in collaboration with water companies, county governments and other CSOs with a view to finding collective solutions to this problem.
Policy and legislation gaps: The sector is in deficiency in pro-poor and progressive policies and laws that can stimulate realization of these rights. We have done tremendous work on the Water Bill 2014 and continue to work with counties towards formulation of excellent policies. Mombasa County is an example of a county we have worked with to draft the county water law.
Human Rights Based Approaches to Water and Sanitation: Hakijamii continues to build capacity and increase the voice of the citizens in demanding for their water rights. We emphasize on integration of the qualifying principles of participation, non discrimination in county planning, budget and programs.