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No, Kenya’s capital Nairobi doesn’t rake in KSh10bn a year from Murang’a water

This article is more than 5 years old

  • Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria said Nairobi earned KSh10 billion a year from water sourced from his county.

  • Nairobi’s water supply company only earned KSh5.1 billion from water sales in 2016/17.

  • An expert said water couldn’t be claimed like other natural resources because it was widely available and flowed from place to place.

Kenya’s young county governments are under pressure to make ends meet. As a result, some are laying claim to the national resources in their territories as a source of income.

One is Murang’a county in central Kenya. In October 2018 governor Mwangi wa Iria said Murang’a would not supply nearby Nairobi county with no-cost water because “water cannot be given away for free”.

Murang’a is home to Thika Dam, also known as Ndakaini dam, which supplies 83% of the water used in the capital. Dams in two other counties supply the rest.

“Nairobi rakes KSh10 billion from Murang’a water every year,” Wa Iria said in a Citizen TV interview. “From equitable share the [Murang’a] county government gets KSh6 billion. Actually, they make double of what I get from the national government.”

A month earlier Wa Iria described water as Muranga’s “oil”. He said the county should benefit as Turkana county did in negotiating a favourable revenue deal with the central government after it struck oil.

But does the governor’s claim hold any water?

Nairobi utility earned KSh5.1 billion from sale of water

Wa Iria’s figures were based on audited reports of Nairobi’s water utility firm, spokesperson Jane Mbuthia told Africa Check.

The Nairobi City County Water and Sewerage Company is fully owned by the Nairobi county government. It is responsible for managing water supply in the city.

The company’s most recent audited report shows its total income for the financial year 2016/17 was KSh9.67 billion. But not all the money came from selling water.

The sale of water earned KSh5.1 billion, or 53% of its total income. The balance came from sewerage services, meter rents, grants, and bank interest.

In 2016/17 Murang’a county got KSh5.78 billion as its equitable share from the national government.

A hydrologist at the University of Nairobi, Prof George Khroda, told Africa Check that water couldn’t be compared other resources because it’s so widely available.

“Water is not like oil which is contained in a specific place. It flows,” he said. “If we charged for water, every county through which water passes could charge for it. The use of water should be decided through negotiation.”

Conclusion: Nairobi earned KSh5.1 billion – not KSh10 billion – from water sales in 2016/17

Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria said Nairobi earned KSh10 billion from water sourced from his county every year. He said Murang’a should benefit from its water resources as Turkana county had from its oil.

In 2016/17 the Nairobi water management company’s total income was KSh9.67 billion. Of that, KSh5.1 billion, or 53%, came from the sale of water.

A hydrologist said water couldn’t be compared other natural resources – such as oil – because it’s so widely available, flowing freely from place to place.

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