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Overview

This paper discusses an innovative public-private partnership approach to operations and maintenance (O&M) of rural water systems in Kenya. The provision of water in Kenya is mandated to county governments, which tend to play a more prominent role in urban centres, while donors and NGOs take the lead in harder-to-reach or less commercially viable rural settings. Mostly, donor-funded water projects cover only capital expenditure (capex) and not operations and maintenance (O&M), resulting in inadequate maintenance of water infrastructure. After the initial investment, projects are handed over to community volunteers, who often do not have the technical expertise or financial management skills needed to keep them running. In addition, the tariffs collected are not sufficient to cover the O&M costs. The pilot project discussed in this paper demonstrates the value of proactive maintenance of water infrastructure that not only yields significant savings, but also provides better outcomes for communities.

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