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What is the Rural Investment Programme?

Storage Tank, Taru Egu (Rural Investments)The Rural Investment Programme in the WSTF is mandated to finance water and sanitation projects in the underserved rural communities across Kenya. It is the pioneer funding mechanism at WSTF and began financing projects in late 2005.

The key implementers are community-based organisations and increasingly water utilities who are involved in the preparation, planning, implementation and sustainability of their own projects. The programme relies upon outsourced support services from the private sector to offer technical support while the county governments assure coordination and supervisory roles. The projects funded through the Rural Investment Programme focus on the poor underserved communities in Kenya who are viewed as financial unviable and that are unattractive to the traditional commercial-based service providers. It focuses on target areas that are water stressed and that lack investment in water and sanitation facilities.

The Rural Investment Programme objectives are to:

  • Ensure that the poorest rural target areas have access to improved water and sanitation services
  • Enhance the capacity of the implementers to realise their programmes successfully by providing technical, advisory and capacity development support


How the Rural Investment Programme works

The Rural Investment Programme works through the following funding mechanisms: Rural Utilities, Medium Term ASAL Programme (MTAP) and WASH mechanisms.

Each of the funding mechanisms promotes the definition of roles within the sector for good governance through independent oversight and monitoring of resource utilisation. WSTF is responsible for ensuring that the fiduciary risks are minimised through effective funding and monitoring mechanisms.

Rural Utilities

The Rural Utilities Programme is an improved version of the former Community Project Cycle whose focus is to work with legal entities in the counties to enhance their capacity to apply for, design, manage, implement and maintain their own water and sanitation facilities in a sustainable manner. It is also called Joint 6 Programme (J6P) supported through the governments of Sweden, Finland and Kenya. This became necessary due to devolution and the new governance structures in Kenya under the Constitution 2010, in order to align and collaborate with the counties in its operations. This approach focuses on six counties, namely Laikipia, Kwale, Migori, Nandi, Narok and Tharaka Nithi with financial support from the governments of Finland and Sweden in a joint financing agreement.

At the moment, Rural Investments Programme is implementing two programmes: Government of Sweden / Finland / Kenya (Joint 6) Programme and the EU/DANIDA supported ASAL programmes.

The following figure shows the rural utilities programme funding process.


rural utilities funding process

 Medium Term ASAL Programme (MTAP)

The Medium-Term Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) Programme, MTAP in short, was funded by the governments of Kenya and Denmark and implemented through the Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands (MDNKOAL). The development objective of the MTAP is to “contribute to reduced poverty in the context of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and of safeguarding the state of the environment and promoting sustainable management of natural resources”. The MTAP is intended to contribute towards empowerment, resilience and food security in drought-prone areas and marginalised counties targeted by the programme. It focuses on six counties i.e. Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit and Wajir.

WSTF has implemented two programmes under this financing mechanism, MTAP 1 and MTAP 2. Under MTAP 1, WSTF disbursed KES 451 million. The Programme implemented 361 small WASH grants and 18 Community Project Cycle projects.

After the closure of MTAP, EU Share came in to support MTAP 2 Programme in the Rural Investment Programme. The SHARE Programme will run for four years and aims to strengthen food security and build disaster resilience in the region, in line with Kenya’s Ending Drought Emergencies Strategy, hence improving the transition from emergency assistance to sustainable development. The total investment is KES 303,099,375 disbursed to support 32 water and sanitation projects targeting 181,998 beneficiaries.

WASH Programme

The WASH programme is implemented in public institutions e.g. dispensaries, health centres and schools. It is targeted towards hygiene promotion and improving the water and sanitation services in these institutions. It was previously implemented alongside the water project in MTAP 1, supported by Danida, where 360 schools and health centres were funded. It is envisaged as a stand-alone programme going forward and Wajir Girls Secondary School Water Project will be the first of its kind to be funded through this approach in the coming financial years.


Rural Investment Programme target clients

In accordance with devolution and with pro-poor guidelines, the Rural Investment Programme is working with selected target counties — Garissa, Lamu, Isiolo, Tana River, Marsabit, Wajir, Nandi, Narok, Migori, Kwale, Laikipia and Tharaka Nithi. The Rural Investment Programme ensures transparent selection of communities based on need, targeting the poorest communities in Kenya. The criteria used to select the counties included the Poverty Index, the level of investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, the access to quality water services and the sanitation coverage levels.


Development partners

The Rural Investment Programme has received financial support from the European Union, the governments of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and the World Bank. The Kenyan government covers operational costs of WSTF while the development partner funds are directed towards the project implementation activities.


Achievements of the Rural Investment Programme

The Rural Investment Programme to date has initiated projects worth KES 2.4 billion, reaching a population of approximately 1.2 million people under the Non-CPC and CPC projects. In total, 300 water and sanitation projects have been funded. In the financial year 2015-2016, 32 water and sanitation projects have been funded under MTAP 2 Programme at a total cost of KES 303,967,825 targeting 181,998 beneficiaries. Joint 6 Programme has funded 31 water projects at a cost of KES 421,896,838 with a target of 285,550 people. 25 sanitation projects were funded at a cost of KES 26,431,951 targeting 5,600 people.

Key elements of the Rural Investment Programme’s success

The Rural Investment Programme’s success is based on several factors. It:

  • Ensures transparent selection of communities/ water utilities, targeting the poorest communities in Kenya,
  • Encourages all men and women within the community, including those marginalised or vulnerable, to participate in mobilisation, planning, implementation and management of water and sanitation projects,
  • Promotes self-reliance and poverty alleviation, not only through support to improved water services provision but also through environmental sanitation in schools and communities, improved hygiene practices, and improvement and protection of water sources,
  • Supports community capacity development in the management and operations of water and sanitation facilities, clearly delineates roles and responsibilities of different public and private sector stakeholders for improved governance, and provides independent oversight in the financing and monitoring of water and sanitation projects for ensuring sustainability.

In addition:

  • Participation, good governance and transparency enhance accountability,
  • Democratic elected management committees and participatory approaches to project implementation are key ingredients towards successful projects.


Challenges and future perspectives

A challenge for the Rural Investment Programme is the support to devolution and the transition from the CPC programmes to new mechanisms. Within this process, the responsibilities for water and sanitation were transferred to the counties. The water utilities (water service providers and water user associations) replace the community-based organisations with a legal mandate in order to increase sustainability. The Rural Investment focuses its activities on county priorities based on their County Integrated Development Plans.

The Rural Investment Programme also faces the challenge to change from grants to credits/ subsidies and commercial financing. It supports developing systems for the counties and the water utilities to attract financing support. The programme supports the counties in realising their mandate in managing water services and to be credible for financing. The goal is to create self-sustaining water utilities that are credit worthy.

The delay of projects through weather, security implications or accountability issues (projects need to be accounted for before the second disbursement is released) has to be reduced in future.

The targeting of the development partners of specific counties is also a challenge for the Rural Investments. The communities in the other 35 counties feel left out and also require support to improve their access.

In future, the Rural Investment Programme will continue to target the underserved poor population. Through the county resident monitors, the projects are continuously followed up.

In addition to the two financing mechanisms to CBOs and water utilities, the Rural Water Investment will take another focus on WASH in Schools. Even though several activities on School WASH have already been realised, the perspective is to bring School WASH to a bigger scale.


> For success stories on our investments, including Rural Investments, explore our stories here

> For further information on the Rural Investment Programme, including pictorial and tabulated achievements, see the Maji Insight 2015-2016 Report available here

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