Pay as You Drink for Sustainability of Community Water Projects
European Scientific Journal April 2018 edition Vol.14
Pay as You Drink for Sustainability of Community Water Projects
Anne Wairimu Ndiritu (PhD) 0
0 University of Nairobi, Open and Distance e-Learning Campus , Nairobi , Kenya Solomon Muriungi Mburung'a (PhD) Kenyatta University , Solomon Muriungi, Nairobi , Kenya Caroline Njoki Ndiritu ( MA) University of Nairobi, Open and Distance e-Learning Campus , Nairobi , Kenya
The main objective of this study was to investigate how community water projects are influenced by water user fee payment by the stakeholders. This study was carried out in Kieni Constituency, Nyeri County in Kenya. The research was based on the models of sustainability and theories of capital structure. The study was carried out in all the 73 water projects in Kieni Constituency. The units of analysis were all the chairmen of these projects together with 381 beneficiaries of the water projects. Two district water officers and 9 local bank managers were also included in the study. Structured questionnaires, interview and observation schedules were used as research instruments. Pearson's Product Moment correlation was used in ascertaining the relationships between the study variables and F statistic was used in testing the hypothesis that: there is no significant relationship between the amount of water user fees and sustainability of community water projects. The analysis showed that there was a correlation coefficient r=0.356 depicting a moderate positive correlation which was significant at 0.10 significant level. This indicated a significant moderate positive relationship between water user fee and sustainability of community water projects. It was therefore concluded that an increase in water user fee moderately improves sustainability of community water projects. From the study findings, it was recommended that there is need to establish a sufficient level of water user fee and also a proper management of the collected water user payments
Water user fee; Sustainability; community projects
The importance of water cannot be overemphasized especially because
of its necessity for survival. Lack of this important commodity has led to many
deaths as well as underdevelopment of many countries. Studies show that lack
of safe water directly contributes to the perpetuation of underdevelopment for
. Research has also linked it to lower literacy
levels and an oppression of women and children’s rights
.The provision of quality water has therefore been a major concern of
people all over the world. Kenya government like all the other countries has
invested a lot of funds in the provision of quality water. A lot of funding has
been provided by both the government and other donor agencies with the aim
of improving livelihoods. However, the actual delivery of water supply and
sanitation services do not match the concern leaving gaps in effectiveness and
consumer satisfaction (Mwemba 2013). The water aid that has been provided
by the developed countries has had limited success in providing sustainable
water solutions. This study sought to determine if one of the reasons for lack
of success of water sustainability is lack of water use payment by the
Access to safe water can be seen as one of the most basic human needs
and rights. This is because water is very important for human health and
wellbeing. This access to safe drinking water is so important that many
international organizations use this as a measure for progress that can reduce
the rate of poverty, diseases and even death (Smakthtin et al., 2004). It is
unfortunate therefore that billions of people in many countries especially in
developing countries still lack this important commodity(Ofwat, 2006). This
problem is greatest in Africa which accounts for 19 out of the 25 Nations of
the world without access to safe drinking water (Winpenny, 2001). Unsafe
water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH are responsible for 4.2% of global
burden of disease as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)
making inadequate WASH the fourth largest global health problem
Lack of safe drinking water or water scarcity is one of the world’s
leading global problems that affect more than 2 billion people. This translates
to one in every six people lacking access to adequate drinking water
. According to WHO & UNICEF (2006), 80% of the population
not accessing drinking water is found in three regions, that is, Eastern Asia,
Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,. Water accessibility is above 78% in
all regions except sub-Saharan Africa. In sub Saharan Africa water
accessibility stands at 50%. WHO & UNICEF (2013) estimated that, 300
million people lack safe drinking water in Africa. Kenya was identified as one
of the top ten countries with the high population without access to drinking
Kenya as a developing country has made some steps in provision of
water to its citizens. Many water projects have been established by the
government, community and individuals. Most of the government water
projects have also had some support from the non-governmental
organizations. Studies however show that most of these projects once
established cease to operate a few years
(Ministry of water and Irrigation,
Sustainability of these water projects has been attributed to technical,
institutional, financial social and environmental factors. Although many
countries tried to achieve the millennium Development Goals: Goal 7, which
was to Halve the proportion of population without sustainable access to safe
drinking water and basic sanitation, Kenya was still unable to achieve this.
(UN 2013). It is still upon Kenya to try to achieve the same goal under the 6th
global Sustainable Development Goals. Many non-governmental
organizations and national governments have invested a lot of resources
initiating water projects especially in rural areas which are managed by
communities. Such water projects are the ones are in Kieni constituency
(Scanlon, Cassar & Nemes, 2004)
. Water projects are implemented to ease
accessibility of the community members to clean water and hence improve
their well-being (quality of life). Implementation of these projects is always
successful but their sustainability poses a challenge. This necessitates studies
to show how these projects can be sustained. This study was therefore guided
by two objectives:
1. To establish the extent to which stakeholders paid for water as they
used from water projects
2. To investigate how community water projects are influenced by water
user fee payment by the stakeholders.
One hypothesis was developed to guide the study
H0 There is no significant relationship between water user fee and
sustainability of community water projects.
Statement of the problem
Access to quality water and sanitation has been identified as one of the
major foundations for achieving the Sustainable Development (UN). The
world is able to better manage production of food and energy and contribute
to decent work and economic growth if there is water sustainability.
Every country should play its part in ensuring the sustainable
development goals are achieved. Kenya as one of the developing countries in
its constitution 2010 clearly underlines the importance of provision of clean
water to its citizen. Under article 43 (d) the constitution guarantees every
Kenyan the right to have water that is clean, safe and affordable. Unfortunately
it is reported that around 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking
water that is unsafe. It is also reported that more than only 60% of people has
access to this scarce resource. UN reports that the 40% for people without
access to clean water is likely to rise. (UNICEF/WHO Water for life, 2005).
The crisis is worse in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa
and South Asia.
Access to safe drinking water results in significant health, economic,
and social gains since it contributes towards healthy communities. No
economic activity that can take place without water. Further researches
confirm that water is an essential natural resource, and indispensable for life.
It is indeed a pre-requisite for growth and prosperity for mankind (Hurton et
al 2007) other Scholars such as Getachew (2005) looks at the benefit of water
not just from the political point of view but also from the economic point.
From the economic benefits point of view, Getachew says that increasing the
amount of water that is available to the point of use can help productive
activities to take place. Davis and Gerry (1993) however reports a health
dimension by reporting that access of safe and clean water can reduce the
many infectious diseases which are relate to unsafe water especially in
Access to safe water is pegged to functioning and sustainability of the
water systems. The low levels of sustainability of water projects reduced the
chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which was to half
the proportion of people globally without access to safe drinking water (UN,
1992). In Kenya, 41 per cent of Kenyans do not have access to adequate
drinking water supply through point sources, piped systems, and rainwater
(World Bank, 2011)
Access to water has been a challenge worldwide. According to a report
by WHO/UNICEF 2017, the total number of people without access to safely
managed drinking water services is 2.1 billion (UN 2017). Rural water supply
is declining at an alarming rate not just in Kenya but in other parts of the
world as indicated by statistics across the world
(Clark 1988, McPherson
1994, Taylor & Mudege, 1996)
. In Kieni Constituency, Nyeri County, Kenya,
majority of the community water projects were not operating at full capacity,
with between 60 percent and 65 percent of all boreholes in Kieni either do not
function at all, or operate significantly below designed expectations (KFSSG,
2012).Some of the reasons given for this decline are lack of participation by
rural communities who are the end users in planning, implementation and
management of water supply facilities and weakness in the operation and
management of water supply facilities
(Churchill, 1987, Kimena 1998)
high number of water points falling out of use threatens sustainability of the
rural water supply which will further impact on the achievement of sustainable
development goals (Musonda 2004)
Sustainability of Water Projects
Different scholars define projects differently. Nokes and Sean (2007)
for example describe a project as a set of coordinated activities with a specific
start and finish time, pursuing a specific goal with constraints on time, scope
and resources. Some projects require that their activities be sustained over time
to ensure continued flow of outputs and hence achievement of the desired
change which could be social, cultural or economic. Water projects like all
other projects require sustainability over time for them to achieve their desired
outcomes which could be social, cultural and economic ( Mwamburi 2014).
Although a lot of resources have been provided to improve the
provision of water supply there are still problems associated with water
projects’ sustainability. In rural areas for example, there is marginal
improvement recorded to match the amount of resources allocated for such
development projects. Infrastructure in terms of pipes and channeling systems
throughout the country has continued to deteriorate to such extent that a lot of
it is lost through mismanagement before reaching the consumer. Studies on
sustainability of rural water projects in different countries in Africa by Harvey
& Reed,2007, Adida ,201
2, Beyene 2012
, Musonda,2004, Abrams1998, and
Shaw (2012), identified factors such as financial and economic issues; non
supporting policy context; non-flexible institutional arrangements;
community and social aspects; lack of spare parts supply; poor technology
and the natural environmental issues; poor maintenance of projects; and lack
of proper monitoring as the ones affecting rural water supply projects. Shaw
(2012) for example indicated that, rural community water projects collect
insufficient funds to cater for the required repairs and proper maintenance
which led to lack of sustainability of rural water supply projects.
The importance of charging people for water use is necessary to ensure
that people take responsibility in the proper use of this resource. Keissler
(1997) asserts that charging for water use leads to sustainable water
management. Water like all economic resources should be charged a market
value. Hardin’s (1968) confirms the same and explains that if people are
allowed to use the environmental resources freely, they would seek maximum
personal benefit through unsustainable use rather than use is sustainably for
society as a whole.
Community Water supply project is a service, and just like any service
project. It requires manpower, spare parts, repairs, energy and other inputs.
According to Wyatt (1988), these requirements need funds. Hence, in order to
implement and operate a sustainable water supply project, a cost recovery
system must be in place. Establishment of water supply projects involve costs
which must be incurred at the design stage, construction phase and in the
operational phases of any water supply project. However, these costs depend
on the type of management practices, technology used, and the geology. The
costs can be classified into subunits as proposed by Whittington (2003)
namely: Transportation costs for instance major pipelines and pumping
facilities; production costs such as reservoir, tanks, pumps and treatment
plants; distribution costs which include, metering and local reticulation;
connection costs and administrative costs such as office expenditure,
collection, billing and customer relation. Cost recovery systems were
normally user fees of water tariffs, that is levying fees for water usage.
Water User Fee
Different researchers have found differing views on why water should
be priced. For example, whittington (2003) is of the view that water is a social
good and should therefore not be charged and therefore should be provided for
free, however, Boland and Whittington (2003) are of the view that water is an
economic good and therefore should be priced and not provided for free.
World Bank (1993 argues that the government can no longer afford to
meet all the expenses and costs that are associated with the provision of water
services. Nyoini (1999) agrees that users should be made to meet these
expenses. Free water supply can however be associated with the wastage that
goes with free things. Research has indicated that free provision for water is
responsible for the poor financial performance and stability of water utilities
in poor economies.
Many scholars have recommended payment for water as a necessity
for sustainability of water projects. Their argument borders on the fact that it
is not possible for the governments and donors to cover all the costs especially
the recurrent costs of water service provision. Users of water must therefore
share the burden. They also agree that the cost of maintaining access to clean
water is not unreasonably high since the users have money to do other less
(Msukwa and Taylor 2011, Haysom, 2006)
. Payment of
water charges also develops a sense of ownership and empowerment among
the water users. There is evidence also that even the poorest and most
underprivileged segments of the society are normally willing to pay for water
supply so long as it is reliable
(McPherson, 1994, Briscoe &de Ferrenti, 1988)
Other studies on water demand have found that poor people are more willing
to pay for improved service than their rich neighbors
(Briscoe &de Ferrenti,
1988, Churchill, 1988)
. Churchill (1988) for example argues that most rural
communities can afford to pay for the improved services, provided that
appropriate technology is used. This he argued was because of the fact that the
rural communities were already spending large amount of time and energy in
According to Harvey and Reed (2004), sustainability of rural water
project demands community financing and creation of efficient systems of
operation, maintenance and repairs. According to Whittington et al (2008), a
minority of rural communities in Ghana, Peru and Boliva were not collecting
sufficient revenues to cater for operations and maintenance costs. In addition
a significant minority of water projects were not collecting revenues at all.
This led to breakdown and non-functionality of community water projects.
This is one aspect this study aims at investigating, that is, the influence of
water user fee on sustainability of community water projects in Kieni
A study by Gine and Perez-Foguet (2008) also noted the failure of
community projects to generate sufficient revenues meant repairs were not
done. They asserted that, communities should chose technologies that are
cheaper and efficient and set tariffs that are commensurate with their economic
status and hence affordable. However, Baumann (2006) stated that, the life
expectancy of installed water supplies is greatly reduced if there is inability of
communities to collect sufficient revenue for repairs. Therefore community
water user fee need to be reasonable and take care of repairs and maintenance
and other recurrent expenditure. Bannerjee and Morella (2011) suggested that,
“an average of 1.9% of household income is spent by rural dwellers on water
services in Africa, which is below the commonly cited 3%-5% affordability
guideline”. This therefore means most Africans do not value importance of
water due to their low household expenditure on water. This therefore called
for an investigation on water user the generated that is, their adequacy, and
influence on sustainability of water projects.
Kleemeier (2000) stated that community members were reluctant to
pay when everything appears to be working. Manyena et al (2008) found the
majority of communities were willing to pay for water services, some did not
have the ability to pay for the real cost of water. Whittington et al (2008)
observe that, in rural communities cash flows are highly seasonal and have
very little savings in rural communities. This, therefore, placed many
community water projects in a situation they cannot generate enough of water
user fee to cater for operation and maintenance of the established water
Gine and Perez (2008) emphasized the need for realistic and
transparent financing mechanisms in community projects. They noted that,
contributions need to be well managed and invested in maintenance and repair
for a project to be sustainable. Nedjoh et al (2003) argued that inadequate
tariffs, lack of knowledge on maintenance costs, and high rates of defaulting
by water beneficiaries in addition to poor financial management and
ineffective collections influenced negatively the ability of community’s
projects to be financially sustainable. Wood (1994) on the other hand stated
that, for some rural communities, projects with higher technology such as hand
pumps represent an unaffordable technology. He suggested more austere rope
and buckets as a lower-cost alternative. Such technology could reduce water
tariff costs making water more affordable to Kieni constituents and reduce
default payments of water tariffs and increase sustainability of community
Davis et al (1993) raised the question that whether in a community
based O & M system, the poor rural communities can meet the full cost of
operation and maintenance. WHO (1993) argued that beneficiaries can fully
meet maintenance cost. Others argued that because of high poverty levels,
meeting full costs of O & M by rural communities is difficult. According to
Briscoe & de Ferranti (1998), even in cases where the community members
are willing to financially contribute to operation and maintenance of
community water projects, they are hampered by lack of resources.
McPherson (1994) argued that, there is growing evidence that even the most
under privileged segments and poorest of society were willing to pay for water
supply as long as it was reliable. UNCHR (1997) argued that, water demand
in low and middle income generally, people are willing to pay a higher
proportion of their income for improved services than their rich neighbors. In
support of this view, Churchill (1998) also argued that some areas in various
countries where poverty is extreme, the communities can afford to pay for
improved water services, provided that appropriate technology is used. This
could be attributed to the fact that people in rural areas are already spending
high proportion of their time and energy in water collection. Kieni
constituency is an arid area which receives inadequate rainfall yet majority
practice agriculture as main source of livelihood. This situation requires
investigation on whether the communities are willing to pay for water usage
and its influence on sustainability of community water projects.
Water tariffs can be implemented for different reasons under different
structures. In most cases water is charged so as to provide revenues to projects
for the efficient delivery of water services. According to Brikke & Rojas
(2001), the operation and maintenance cost recovery was essential for the
financial sustainability of water projects, proper and effective system
maintenance, leading to provision of quality water services. According
Magnusson (2004) water pricing promoted efficient and sustainable use of
water. Whittington (2003) suggested that water pricing promoted fairness and
equity in access to water and water use. He emphasized the need for
transparency in pricing of water. Brown & Holcombe (2004) stated that “a
consumer, who consumes twice the quantity water, as another consumer,
should pay a bill, that is, at least twice as large as that of the latter”. However
Ruijs et al (2008) had a different view that, fairness on pricing of water should
be on the basis of affordability and socio-economic characteristics of the
household. This is because water is essential for mare human survival.
Therefore fairness in water user fee is essential to prevent negative
consequences associated with the lack of access to safe and sufficient water
supply and sustainability of community water projects.
Water tariffs can also be used to promote poverty alleviation. This is
because the water tariffs will generate revenue for the extension of improved
water supply services to the poor with relatively high economic and social
(World Bank, 1993)
. The poor usually spend more of their financial
resources on medical bills due to the consumption of poor quality water.
Thompson et al (2001) had documented that improved water sources within
households in East Africa and Manila, saves time for water collection and
thereby to engage in productive activities which can generate revenue for their
households and improve household incomes, and also reduce medical
expenses due to improvement in health.
From the analysis of the 20 sub-Saharan African countries poverty
reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), 85% of those countries had an emphasis
on community management and financing of rural water supplies (Harvey,
2006). However, they did not adequately address the affordability of
associated costs of water. This situation needs to change for improvement in
the levels of sustainability and reduction of proportion of people without
access to safe drinking water in rural Africa. The success of cost recovery
system, as a determinant of sustainability, is affected by the extent to which
water management committees are guided, supported and retrained, in relation
to water user fee structures and financial management. If such external
guidance is absent, then the success of cost recovery systems and efforts will
Negative impact of water fee charges on sustainability
Although there is a lot of support for water user fee payment, there are
scholars who are against the payment for water by users. They argue that user
fees are too low to generate sufficient funds and are also not able to foster
(Whittington, Davis et al. 2008)
. When communities are told to
cofinance this is likely to create feelings of injustice and resentment, rather that
empowerment and ownership
. A systematic review of
willingness to pay for clean water in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia
showed that at even very low user charges put people off using clean water
(Null, Kremer et al. 2012)
. The low willingness to pay is also as a result of
people under estimating the benefit of water
(Kremer and Miguel 2007,
Sometimes the community is also unwilling to contribute the water
charges. This unwillingness to pay for the services is influenced by a number
of factors one of which is availability of alternative sources of water in the
community for example a river though far( Roark et al. 1993, Briscoe &de
Amount and adequacy
of fee charged for water
Types of water tariffs
Penalties for non
Ferrant, 1988). This study conceptualized the relationship between the
independent and the dependent variables as follows:
Water user fee
Sustainability of water projects
The study seeks to examine the relationship between water user fee as
the independent variable and sustainability of community water projects.
Cross-sectional descriptive survey design was used in this study. This
design was justified because the water projects were distributed across the
geographical area of the study. The descriptive research design also combined
both quantitative and qualitative approached which ensured the advantages of
(Scrimshaw, 1990, Rao & Woolcock, 2003)
. The study adopted both
probabilistic and non-probabilistic sampling designs. A census of all the 73
community water projects in Kieni constituency was studied. All the chairmen
of the community water projects were included in the study. In addition,
stratified random sampling was used to select 381 from a total of 51,304
beneficiaries. Two District water officers and 9 Nyeri bank branch managers
were also studied. Data was collected using self-administered questionnaires,
observation and interview schedules. This data was analyzed by use of
descriptive statistics, and inferential statistics. Pearson Product Correlation
Coefficient was used to ascertain the influence of water user fee on
sustainability of community water projects. F-statistic was used for hypothesis
testing. The study used α=0.10 as the significant level. Multiple linear
regression analysis was used for modeling of mathematical equation to depict
the influence of the water user fee on sustainability of water projects. The
following hypothesis was tested:
H0 There is no significant relationship between water user fee and
sustainability of community water projects.
Water user fee was analyzed by assessing water connection fees,
charges for water consumption and adequacy of water user fee. To do this, the
respondents were asked to indicate the amount of money that they are charged
for their water. Pearson Correlation Coefficient was used to find out the
relationship between water user fee and sustainability of community water
projects. Correlation coefficient r = .356* indicated a moderate positive
correlation between the variables. This correlation was also significant at 0.10
significant level. A conclusion was therefore made that an increase in water
user fee moderately improve sustainability of water projects.
F statistic was also used to test this relationship. It was found to be
equal to 16.781, which was significant at p=0.00 therefore the null hypothesis
was rejected, meaning that there was a significant relationship between water
user fee and sustainability of community water projects in Kieni Constituency,
Nyeri county Kenya.
Conclusions of the study
The study concluded that, all community members pay fee to cater for
water projects operations and maintenance except for dams and water pans
whose water was free. All water beneficiaries pay same amount of water user
fee irrespective of the amount used under the gravity water projects which
leads to unsustainable water use and wastage of water.
There was a moderate positive relationship between water user fee and
level of sustainability of community water projects. The correlation was also
significant at 0.10 significant level. The null hypothesis four was rejected.
Hence the study concluded that, there was significant relationship between
adequacy water user fee and sustainability of community water projects in
Kieni Constituency, Nyeri County.
Since there was significant relationship between water user fee and
sustainability of community water projects, the study recommends that, an
optimum level of water user fee be established and improvement of its
collection and management to ensure proper utilization of the collected funds.
Water user fee payment is also likely to ensure that the projects are well
maintained since the related expenses will be taken care off. Stakeholders are
also likely to use the water they fetch carefully since it will be costing them
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