Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Pipes and politics: a century of change and continuity in Kenyan urban water supply*

  • David Nilsson (a1) and Ezekiel Nyangeri Nyanchaga (a2)
Abstract

Major institutional reforms are currently under way to improve the performance of the public water sector in Kenya. However, a historical perspective is needed in order to achieve sustainable improvements that will also benefit the urban poor. This article seeks to provide such a perspective, applying a cross-disciplinary and socio-technical approach to urban water supply over the last century, in which institutions, organisations and technology are seen to interact with political, economic and demographic processes. Despite a series of reforms over the years, the socio-technical structure of the urban water sector in Kenya has shown a remarkable stability since the 1920s, and into the 1980s. However, the sustainability of the public service systems has been eroded since independence, due to changes in the institutional framework surrounding the systems, while exclusive standards and technological choices have essentially been preserved from the colonial era. Current sector reform must create incentives for addressing technology choices and service standards in order to provide public water services also for the urban poor.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Footnotes
Hide All
*

This study has been carried out in collaboration between the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and the University of Nairobi, under authorisation from the Kenya Ministry of Education. We wish to thank Sida/SAREC and the Academy of Finland for their financial support.

Footnotes
References
Hide All

Note: KNA=Kenya National Archives, Nairobi.

African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC). 2002. Population and Health Dynamics in Nairobi's Informal Settlements. Nairobi: APHRC.
Barkan, J. D. & Chege, M.. 1989. ‘Decentralising the state: district focus and the politics of reallocation in Kenya’, Journal of Modern African Studies 27, 3: 431–53.
Bayliss, K. 2003. ‘Utility privatisation in sub-Saharan Africa: a case study of water’, Journal of Modern African Studies 41, 4: 507–31.
Belli, P. 1997. ‘The comparative advantage of government’, Washington, DC: World Bank.
British East Africa Protectorate [BEAP]. 1907. Report on the sanitation of Nairobi and Report on the Townships of Naivasha, Nakuru and Kisumu, by G. Bransby Williams. KNA: GP 363.7 BRI.
BEAP. 1915. Nakuru District Commissioner, Annual Report 1914–1915. KNA: DC/NKU/1/1.
BEAP. 1916a. Public Works Department, Letter from director of PWD, Mr Ross, to Chief Secretary, dated 29.09.1916, Draft Water legislation. KNA: AG/43/76.
BEAP. 1916b. Nakuru District Commissioner, Annual Report 1915–1916. KNA: DC/NKU/1/1.
Budds, J. & McGranahan, G.. 2003. ‘Are the debates on water privatisation missing the point? Experiences from Africa, Asia and Latin America’, Environment and Urbanisation 15, 2: 87113.
Chatzis, K. 1999. ‘Designing and operating storm water drain systems: empirical findings and conceptual developments’, in Coutard, O. ed. The Governance of Large Technical Systems. London: Routledge, 7390.
Chege, M. 1973. ‘Systems management and the plan implementation process in Kenya’, African Review 3, 4: 595610.
Cohen, J. M. 1993. ‘Importance of public service reform: the case of Kenya’, Journal of Modern African Studies 31, 3: 449–76.
Collier, P. & Gunning, J. W.. 1999. ‘Explaining African economic performance’, Journal of Economic Literature, 37, 1: 64111.
Collignon, B. & Vézina, M.. 2000. ‘Independent water and sanitation providers in African cities: full report of a ten-country study’. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Colonial Office. 1950a. Annual Report on the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya for the year 1948. London: HMSO.
Colonial Office. 1950b. Report on the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya for the year 1949. London: HMSO.
Colonial Office. 1959. Report on the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya for the year 1958. London: HMSO.
Colony and Protectorate of Kenya [CPK]. 1925. Loan for Nairobi Corporation, Municipal loan. KNA: AG 23/130.
CPK. 1927. Report of the Local Government Commission 1927. Vol. 1, Nairobi and its Environs and Mombasa and its Environs. KNA: K. 352.
CPK. 1929. Water Ordinance 1929. Official Gazette, 31 Dec 1929 (AG/43/79).
CPK. 1930. Report for 1929. London: HMSO.
CPK. 1933. Annual Report on the Social and Economic Progress of the People of the Kenya Colony and Protectorate 1931. London: HMSO.
CPK. 1935. The Official Gazette, 25 June 1935. KNA: AG/43/79.
CPK. 1945. Report on Augmentation of Water Supply for the Nairobi Municipal Area. Government Printer, Nairobi. KNA: BV/19/295.
CPK. 1950. Public Works Department, Hydraulic Branch, Annual Report for 1950. KNA: BY/138/18.
CPK. 1953a. The Water (General) Rules, Official Gazette Supplement No. 52, 2 July 1953. KNA: K 333.91.
CPK. 1953b. The Water Undertakers' Rules, Official Gazette Supplement No. 31, 26 May 1953. KNA: K 333.91.
CPK. 1956. Report of the Commissioner for Local Government for the year 1956. KNA: K 352. 0676 0005 KEN.
CPK. 1957. Sessional Paper No.98 of 1957. The Manzoni Report on the Public Works Department. KNA: MSS/66/111.
CPK. 1961. Ministry of Works, Hydraulic Branch, Memo dated 1961-02-09. KNA: BY 35/16.
Crocker, K. J. & Masten, S. E.. 2000. ‘Prospects for private provision in developing countries: lessons from 19th century America’. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Curry, R. L. & Rothchild, D.. 1980. ‘The fiscal costs of a basic human needs strategy’, Journal of Modern African Studies 18, 1: 143–50.
Drangert, J. O., Okotto-Okotto, J., Okotto, L. G. O. & Auko, O.. 2002. ‘Going small when the city grows big: new options for water supply and sanitation in rapidly expanding urban areas’, Water International 27, 3: 354–63.
East African Standard (Nairobi). 2005. Online article dated 5.04.2005, accessed 31.8.2006. http://www.eastandard.net/archives/cl/mags/fs/news.php?articleid=17116
Ertsen, M. 2005. ‘Prescribing perfection: emergence of an engineering irrigation design approach in the Netherlands East Indies and its legacy 1830–1990’, Delft University, Doctoral Thesis.
Fieldhouse, D. K. 1999. The West and the Third World: trade, colonialism, dependence, and development. Oxford: Blackwell.
Furedi, F. 1973. ‘The African crowd in Nairobi: popular movements and elite politics’, Journal of African History 14, 2: 275–90.
Gleick, P. H., Wolff, G., Chalecki, E. L. & Reyes, R.. 2002. The New Economy of Water: the risks and benefits of globalization and privatization of fresh water. Oakland, CA: Pacific Institute. http://www.pacinst.org/reports/new_economy_of_water/, accessed 07.10.2007.
Government of Kenya [GoK]. 1964. Development Plan 1964–1970. Nairobi.
GoK. 1965. Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, ‘The Organisation of Water Development: notes for guidance of Provincial Water Advisory Committees’, KNA: DC/KMG/2/26/39.
Green, R. H. 1965. ‘Four African development plans: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania’, Journal of Modern African Studies 3, 2: 249–79.
Hifab International. 1988. Ministry of Development Cooperation NORAD, Report of Appraisal mission: Minor Urban Water Supply programme, 1988–92. Stockholm.
Howard Humphreys. 1986. Nairobi City Commission, Water and Sewerage Department, Third Nairobi Water supply project, Distribution System Short Term Plan to 1995. Volume 1. Nairobi.
Hukka, J. & Katko, T. eds. 2003. Water Privatisation Revisited: panacea or pancake? Delft: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.
Hukka, J., Katko, T. & Seppälä, O.. 1992. ‘Kenya water sector: a position paper’, Tampere: University of Technology.
Hydén, G. 1983. No Shortcuts to Progress: African development management in perspective. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Kaijser, A. 1994. I fädrens spår: den svenska infrastrukturens historiska utveckling och framtida utmaningar. Stockholm: Carlssons förlag.
Kaijser, A. 2003. ‘Redirecting infrasystems towards sustainability’, in Biel, A., Hansson, B. & Mårtensson, M. eds. Individual and Structural Determinants of Environmental Practice. Aldershot: Ashgate, 152–79.
Katui-Katua, M. & McGranahan, G.. 2002. ‘Public-private partnerships and the poor: small enterprises and water provision in Kibera, Nairobi’, WEDC, Loughborough University.
Kjellén, M. & McGranahan, G.. 1997. ‘Urban water: towards health and sustainability’, Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute.
Levy, B. 2004. ‘Governance and economic development in Africa: meeting the challenge of capacity building’, in Levy, B. & Kpundeh, S. eds. Building State Capacity in Africa: new approaches, emerging lessons. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Leys, C. 1979. ‘Development strategy in Kenya since 1971’, Canadian Journal of African Studies 13, 1/2: 295320.
Lobina, E. & Hall, D.. 2000. ‘Public sector alternatives to water supply and sewerage privatization: case studies’, Water Resources Development 16, 1: 3555.
Matrix Development Consultants. 1993. ‘Nairobi's informal settlements: an inventory, for USAID/REDSO/ESA’, Nairobi: unpublished consultancy report.
McGranahan, G. 2002. Demand-side Water Strategies and the Urban Poor. London: IIED.
Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI). 2004. The National Water Services Strategy (2005–2007). Nairobi: MWI.
Mitullah, W. V. 1999. ‘A review and critique of urban housing policy in Kenya: 1963–1995’, in Ng'ethe, N. & Owino, W. eds. From Sessional Paper No 10 to Structural Adjustment: towards indigenising the policy debate. Nairobi: Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, 219–39.
Mombasa Pipeline Board [MPB]. 1962. Report and Accounts for Financial Year Ending 30th June, 1962. KNA: ACW 33/13.
Morgan, W. T. W. 1969. ‘Urbanization in Kenya: origins and trends’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 46, 167–78.
Muwonge, J. W. 1980. ‘Urban policy and patterns of low-income settlement in Nairobi, Kenya’, Population and Development Review 6, 4: 595613.
Mwangi, E. & Gitau, M. J.. 2003. ‘The Water Act (2002): a regulatory minefield’, Briefing Papers 3/2003, Nairobi: Kenya Leadership Institute.
Nilsson, D. 2005. ‘The evolution of urban water and sanitation in East Africa from a public goods perspective’, in Tempelhoff, J. W. N. ed. African Water Histories: trans-disciplinary discourses. University of the Northwest, Vereeniging, South Africa, 317–45.
Nilsson, D. 2006. ‘A heritage of unsustainability? Reviewing the origin of the large-scale water and sanitation system in Kampala, Uganda’, Environment & Urbanization 18, 2: 369–85.
North, D. C. 2005. Understanding the Process of Economic Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Nyangeri, E. N. 2003a. ‘Scope for public–private partnerships in WSS services in Kenya’, in Hukka, & Katko, eds. Water Privatisation Revisited, 6674.
Nyangeri, E. N. 2003b. ‘Barriers to and conditions for the involvement of private capital and enterprise in water supply and sanitation in Latin America and Africa: seeking economic, social, and environmental sustainability, Baseline report D2 Kenya’. Prinwass, Fifth Framework Programme 1998–2002: INCO2 – Research for Development, European Commission: unpublished research report.
Nyangeri, E. N. 2004. ‘Barriers to and conditions for the involvement of private capital and enterprise in water supply and sanitation in Latin America and Africa: seeking economic, social, and environmental sustainability: Strategic Country Report Kenya’, Prinwass, INCO2 – Research for Development, European Commission.
Obudho, R. A. & Obudho, Rose A.. 1992. ‘The colonial urban development through space and time 1895–1963’, in Ochieng, W. R. & Maxon, R. M. eds. An Economic History of Kenya. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 147–58.
Ochieng, W. R. 1995. ‘Structural & political changes’, in Ogot, B. A. & Ochieng, W. R. eds. Decolonisation & Independence in Kenya 1940–93. London: James Currey, 83109.
Odira, P. M. A. & Nyangeri, E. N.. 1994. ‘Water and sanitation services in low-income areas of Nairobi, Kenya’, in Sandelin, S. ed. Low-income Area Water Supply and Sanitation in selected African Cities. Tampere: Tampere University of Technology.
Onjala, J. O. 1999. ‘Economic growth and development in Kenya since independence’, in Ng'ethe, N. & Owino, W. eds. From Sessional Paper No. 10 to Structural Adjustment: towards indigenising the policy debate. Nairobi: Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, 5592.
Orgut. 2006. ‘Kenya Water and Sanitation Programme: the transfer plan, progress gaps and recommendations’. Nairobi: unpublished consultancy report.
Ostrom E., L., Schroeder & Wynne, S.. 1993. Institutional Incentives and Sustainable Development: infrastructure policies in perspective. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Ostrom, E. & Walker, J.. 1997. ‘Neither markets nor states: linking transformation processes in collective action arenas’, in Mueller, D. ed. Perspectives on Public Choice. Cambridge University Press.
Republic of Kenya [RoK]. 1965. African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya. Sessional Paper No. 10. Nairobi.
RoK. 1966. Development Plan 1966–1970. Nairobi.
RoK. 1969a. Building code. Local government regulations 1963: The Local Government Adoptive By-Laws Building Order 1968 and The Local Government Adoptive By-Laws Grade II Building Order 1968. Nairobi.
RoK. 1969b. Development Plan 1970–1974. Nairobi.
RoK. 1969c. Nairobi City Council, City Engineer. Mathare Valley. KNA: RN/6/21.
RoK. 1972a. Laws of Kenya, The Water Act, Chapter 372 (including The Water Undertaker Rules, subsidiary to Cap 372). Nairobi: Government Printer.
RoK. 1972b. Plan Performance and Expectation 1969–74, Part 1, Presented for discussion at Consultative Group meetings in Paris April 1972. Nairobi. Nordic Africa Institute library, Uppsala.
RoK. 1974. Development Plan 1974–1978. Part 1. Nairobi.
RoK. 1978. Minor Urban Water Supply programme, Progress Report 1st July 1977–31 December 1977. Ministry of Water Development (private archive).
RoK. 1979. Development Plan 1979–83. Part 1. Nairobi.
RoK. 1983a. Development Plan 1984–1988. Nairobi.
RoK. 1983b. Water Use Study, Draft Main Report. Ministry of Water Development. Nordic Africa Institute library, Uppsala.
RoK. 1984. Ministry of Water Development, Water Use and Tariff study. Nairobi.
RoK. 1994. Development Plan 1994–1996. Nairobi.
Royal East Africa Commission [REAC]. 1955. Report. London: HMSO.
Satterthwaite, D. 2003. ‘The Millenium Development Goals and urban poverty reduction: great expectations and nonsense statistics’, Environment & Urbanization 15, 2: 181–90.
Sharp, A. M. & Jetha, N. M.. 1970. ‘Central government grants to local authorities: a case study of Kenya’, African Studies Review 13, 1: 4356.
Shirley, M. M. 2000. ‘The politics and economics of reforming urban water systems’, Conference on Political Institutions and Economic Growth in Latin America, Stanford University, 14–15.04.2000.
Southall, R. & Wood, G.. 1996. ‘Local government and the return to multi-partyism in Kenya’, African Affairs 95, 381: 501–27.
Stamp, P. 1986. ‘Local government in Kenya: ideology and political practice, 1895–1974’, African Studies Review 29, 4: 1742.
Stren, R. 1972. ‘Urban policy in Africa: a political analysis’, African Studies Review 15: 3, 489516.
Stren, R. 1975. ‘Urban policy and performance in Kenya and Tanzania’, Journal of Modern African Studies 13, 2: 267–94.
Swamy, G. 1994. Kenya: structural adjustment in the 1980s. Washington, DC: World Bank.
SWECO. 1973. City Council of Nairobi, Nairobi Sewerage and Groundwater survey, Part II, organization, management, finance and legislation report. Stockholm & Nairobi. KNA: GP 628.2058 NAI.
Thompson, J., Porras, I. T., Wood, E., Tumwine, J. K., Mujwahuzi, M. R., Katui-Katua, M. & Johnstone, N.. 2000. ‘Waiting at the tap: changes in urban water use in East Africa over three decades’, Environment & Urbanization 12, 2: 3752.
Thompson, J., Porras, I. T., Tumwine, J. K., Mujwahuzi, M. R., Katui-Katua, M., Johnstone, N. & Wood, L.. 2001. Drawers of Water II: 30 years of change in domestic water use & environmental health in East Africa. London: IIED.
United Nations Populations Division [UNPD]. 2006. Database webpage, accessed 29.09.2006. <http://esa.un.org/unpp/>
Vaa, M. 1993. ‘Towards more appropriate technologies? Experiences from the water and sanitation sector’, Research Report No. 94. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.
van de Walle, N. 2003. ‘Presidentialism and clientelism in Africa's emerging party systems’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 41, 2: 297321.
van Zwanenberg, R. M. A. & King, A.. 1975. An Economic History of Kenya and Uganda 1800–1970. London: Macmillan.
Werlin, H. H. 1966. ‘The Nairobi City Council: a study in comparative local government’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 8, 2: 181–98.
Werlin, H. H. 1973. ‘Nairobi's politics of housing’, African Review 3, 4: 611–30.
White, L., Thornton, W., Silberman, L. & Anderson, P. R.. 1948. Nairobi Master Plan for a Colonial Capital. London: HMSO. KNA: 711WHI.
Willis, J. 1995. ‘Men on the spot, labor, and the colonial state in British East Africa: the Mombasa water supply 1911–1917’, International Journal of African Historical Studies 28, 1: 2548.
World Bank. 1994. World Development Report 1994: infrastructure for development. Washington, DC.
World Bank. 2003. World Development Report 2004: making services work for poor people. Washington, DC.
World Health Organisation [WHO]. 1963. ‘The organization for water development in Kenya, Report of a World Health Organisation Consultant Team’ (KNA): BY/138/43.
WHO. 1971. Sectoral Study and National Programming for Community and Rural Water Supply, Sewerage and Water Pollution Control. Report No. 1. General community water supply problems. Brazzaville: WHO.
WHO. 1972. Sectoral Study and National Programming for Community and Rural Water Supply, Sewerage and Water Pollution Control. Report No. 2. Recommendations on national programme for community water supply development. Brazzaville: WHO.
WHO. 1973. Sectoral Study and National Programming for Community and Rural Water Supply, Sewerage and Water Pollution Control. Report No. 12. Ten year development programme for community water supplies. Brazzaville: WHO.
WHO. 1975. ‘Report of the review mission for the water supply, sewerage and pollution control “sectoral study” for Kenya’. KNA: BY/33/72.
WHO & United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 2004. Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target: a mid-term assessment of progress. New York: UNICEF & Geneva: WHO.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed