Water Resource Management and Use

The Kenya Constitution 2010 gives every person the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities [Article 43. (1)(d)]. It also demands that the State puts in place affirmative action programs designed to ensure that minorities and marginalized groups have reasonable access to water [Article 56. (e)]. The constitution also provides that water services will be handled by County Governments whereas water resources management remains a national government function. In spite of these constitutional provisions there are a myriad of challenges facing the country that must be overcame before the vision can be realized. The main challenge is the fact that more than 80% of the land area of Kenya is arid and semi-arid. According to the National Water Master Plan 2030 (NWMP2030) the country’s per capita renewable water resources was 586m3/person/yr in 2010. This figure is likely to reduce to 393 m3/person/yr by the year 2030 (NWMP2030).

The impacts on and costs to the economy related ineffective and unsustainable management of the nations water resources may not be clear to many but are extremely large and in the long run irredeemable. The impacts extend to key sectors of the economy — including health, agriculture and livestock, energy, manufacturing, and transport. Judging by the level of the current budgetary allocation to water resources management, the country clearly does not fully appreciate the extent of the water resources challenges it faces, fully recognizing the social, economic, and political risks associated with poor water resources management, and so does not adequately treat and manage water resources as a strategic resource with important social and economic values.

Institutional Arrangement

Water Resources Department of Ministry functions are:

  1. Formulation and review of water resources management policies and strategies
  2. Formulation/review of standards for groundwater resources development;
  3. Guide, promote and coordinate assessment of the nation’s water resources (groundwater and surface water) both for quality and quantity
  4. Strengthen the monitoring of water resources through the improvement, establishment and rehabilitation of the hydro-meteorological, groundwater and water quality monitoring networks.
  5. Oversight and supervision of Water Resources Authority
  6. Promote, undertake and coordinate water resources research
  7. Registration and licensing of water professionals and contractors
  8. Resources mobilization (project proposals)
  9. Technical capacity development of county governments
  10. Water resources conflict management
  11. Promote and coordinate water catchment management and protection
  12. Formulate measures and strategies to counter/mitigate climate change impacts
  13. Regulation of the water resources actors including contractors and consultants
  14. Oversight of water resources monitoring, enforcement of Rules and regulations and classification of water resources and determination of water quality objectives

Water Resources Institutional Status Linkages

Water Resources Authority  for regulation of water resources use and management:

National water master plan (NWMP) 2030:

Policy Brief April 2021: Groundwater Resources Management in the Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya

Policy Brief April 2021: Impacts of Eutrophication in Lake Victoria – Restoring the former glory by control of excess nitrogen discharge in the Basin

Water resources annual situation report:

Ground water in Kenya:

Water Resource User Associations:  

Water sector financing for water catchment actions:

Last Update: November 11, 2021  

November 11, 2021 406 admin  Water
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