Leaving No One Behind: Prospects for User-Owned Urban Water Utilities in Kenya

Japheth Kibet Koros, Petri Juuti, Riikka Juuti, Jarmo Hukka, Shilpa Muliyil Asokan

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Achieving universal access to basic services and safe and affordable water and sanitation to all by 2030, as targeted in Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 6, is of utmost importance in improving people’s well-being. In Kenya, this means fulfilling a significant water services gap. This study analyzed the viability of user-owned urban water utilities there from managers’ perspectives. It found that the high performance of the few licensed private utilities, high ownership and control, small size, robust public participation, and regulatory policies favor their performance. Yet, the costliness of water services production limits their viability in the most sidelined low-income areas. The article recommends (i) diversifying service production models, (ii) establishing a revolving fund to finance major capital investments, (iii) making full cost recovery a key policy objective, (iv) mobilizing financing from local users, including low-income earners, and (v) setting pricing structures that imply cross-subsidizing between the rich and poor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-257
Number of pages27
JournalPublic Works Management & Policy
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Public participation
  • Sustainable development goals
  • Urban water services
  • User-owned urban water service producers

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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