Enhancing access to safe water and improved sanitation services in Kenya: Are we on track? (December 2018)


Adequate access to safe water and improved sanitation services is central to achievement of better health and wellbeing of Kenya’s population. These services facilitate prevention of waterborne diseases which in turn may reduce mortality rates and health expenditure.

Adequate availability of water is also critical for sustainable economic growth and reduction of poverty – currently estimated at 36.1% of Kenya’s population – as water supports key economic activities such as agricultural, industrial and energy production. Furthermore, violent conflicts over water resources could reduce if adequate access to quality water is improved across the country.

This report looks at progress towards achieving universal access to water and sanitation services in Kenya, as well as the investments that have been made in this sector.

Key findings

  • Access to water from an improved source increased substantially between 2009 and 2015/16 at the national level. However, rural areas are still left behind.

  • There are significant inequalities in access to water from an improved source. If not addressed, this may result in some counties being left behind.

  • The proportion of households with access to improved sanitation services increased in 29 counties but reduced in 18 counties between 2009 and 2015/16.

  • Significant inequalities also exist in access to improved sanitation services. And the quality of available sanitation services is low, with 78.4% of households using toilets with no place for washing hands.

  • Expenditure to the water and sanitation sector has increased in recent years at the national level and in some counties. However, Kenya is facing a huge resource gap (Ksh1.2 trillion) that may negatively affect its ability to achieve universal access to safe water and improved sanitation services by 2030.

  • Scaling up access to safe water and improved sanitation services is also constrained by high incidence of poverty, fragmented legal and policy frameworks, inadequate data for planning and budgeting and climate change which affects availability of water.