Four lobby groups sue State for increasing water charges
Thursday April 13 2023
The Kenyan government has been sued for increasing water bills and commercialising water and sanitation services without consulting Kenyans by conducting public participation forums.
The lawsuit filed yesterday at the High Court in Milimani was triggered by the implementation of new water levies rolled on March 1, 2023, following an upward revision of the resource use charges.
According to the petitioners, the government’s decision was based on advice from the World Bank on the commercialisation of water and sanitation services.
The new levies are contained in the Water Resources Regulations 2021, enacted by the Water and Sanitation ministry during the former regime of President Uhuru Kenyatta. At the time Water minister was Sicily Kariuki.
Based on the new levies, the charges rose from 50 cents to Sh5 per cubic metre of water distributed to consumers by the Water Resources Users Associations for domestic, public and livestock purposes.
The suit filed by four lobby groups and five persons claims that the new levies have aggravated pressure on consumer bills. It states that the regulations have increased the water user charges by between 500 and 1,000 percent, “in spite of water being a necessity to sustain animal and plant lives besides enabling human dignity that good sanitation entails”.
It alleges the increased charges have made the precious commodity inaccessible to Kenyans and amount to a breach of the State’s duty under Article 21 of the Constitution to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate clean and safe water.
“The water users charges set out in part B of the Second Schedule of the regulations are so exorbitant and unaffordable on account of the increments. The charges are based on a free market agenda espoused and promoted by the World Bank,” reads the lawsuit.
According to the petitioners, the Cabinet secretary did not subject the regulations to public participation before the same were gazetted.