Non-payment in the Kenyan water sector: A political economy analysis
Water that is treated and delivered has a cost and water utilities require sufficient revenue from their customers, whether public or private to cover these costs. However, non-payment of water bills leads to missing finances and are causing several impacts on the utilities in terms of water supply generation and investments in water network expansion. In Kenya, an issue of non-payment of water bills does exist and arrears by public institutions often account for a high percentage of the total operating revenue of the utilities, contributing significantly to the financial and operational challenges faced by utilities and thus, undermining the human right to water and sanitation.
For conceptualizing the underlying causes and consequences of non-payment in the Kenya water sector, a specific focus was set to investigate on all sectors involved in the non- payment procedure to develop a comprehensive and evidence-based overview of the situation. In this regard, this research aimed at identifying the relevant actors, their interests and intentions behind paying the water bills or not based on cultural, intrinsic, economic and social circumstances as well as the most important financial flows in the water sector.
Causes for non-payment of water bills have been identified to mainly arise because of shortcomings in the money distribution/flow within the whole water sector but especially the delay of funds towards public institutions, poor governance within the water sector, the current handling of non-payment by policies and the metering or billing procedure itself.
Impunity, lack of accountability and transparency leads to corruption and political interference in the issue of non-payment. However, also water utilities have the responsibility to meter water consumption and to issue bills to their customers on time, which is also sometimes the reason why public institutions have not been able to pay, or why unwillingness to pay for water becomes an issue.
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