The TISDA programme prompted by the vision to improve the quality of life in Sub Saharan Africa, commissioned six case studies in 2010. After successful research and compilation of the reports, validation meetings were held to highlight the findings and the recommendations.
Mombasa is currently the only case study area where all the activities under the implementation stage of the TISDA programme have been under taken. The recommendations highlighted are an initiative of multi stakeholder forums and validation processes that enhanced ownership for the program
The TISDA research team conducted a case study in Old Town, Mombasa in May 2010. The case study diagnosed the water service provision situation in terms of performance and integrity, looking at both the Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company (MOWASCO) and the informal providers (boreholes and push carts vendor). This is their story ….
The Old Town was the first urban centre in Mombasa Island established in the 14th century. It is a picturesque tourist destination with ancient houses looking over the Indian Ocean, reminiscent of the era of sultans, art, history and culture. Two decades of neglect, skewed development policies and mismanagement have seen the town’s unreliable water service delivery deteriorate in spite of being surrounded by a natural mass of water. The town is characterised by a perennial shortage of drinking water, an old and dilapidated system, broken pipes frequently causing leakages and cross contamination of the pipe water with effluent from the old sewer system. This confluence of events has led to deteriorated water service provision in the area, and compromised water quality thus causing water borne diseases.
Some of the issues highlighted during the research included the continued lack of water, estimated bills, contaminated water, lack of equity in water supply, vandalism of infrastructure, and lack of responsiveness from the service providers. However, concerted efforts by the residents of the Old Town, MOWASCO and TI-Kenya under the TISDA programme has catalysed a metamorphosis in water service delivery for the residence of the Old town.
A mile up from Old Town stands MOWASCO, the official water service provider mandated to provide water and sanitation services in Mombasa Island. MOWASCO explained to the researchers that despite their efforts and capacity to supply piped water to the residents of Old town, the supply is not sufficient and thus water is rationed three days in a week. Consequently, in order to fill the gaps, majority of the residents have opted to use the salty water boreholes while others are seeking the services from push cart vendors. This information has been collated, analysed and compiled into a case study report, which has also proposed a number of recommendations to improve water service provision and enhance integrity in terms of Transparency, Accountability and Participation.
The first milestone was achieved in October 2010 when the first meetings were held with MOWASCO, informal water providers and users to validate the findings and recommendations. Most of the challenges faced by all stakeholders were interrelated; problems in the past remained unsolved partly due to lack of communication between actors. The inter-linkage of problems and potential solutions made it necessary to create dialogue among main water stakeholders in order to jointly find solutions in an environment of trust. Heated as the discussions were, the will and commitment by the residents of Old Town and MOWASCO established a foundation out of the burgeoning relationship; albeit one that would need careful nurturing and support through consistent communication and engagement.
In February 2011, the TISDA team provided a platform for a multi-stakeholder discussion on the problems affecting the water sector and solutions to these. Local and international experts involved in the TISDA project trained the stakeholders on how anti-corruption initiatives in the water sector can be utilised to improve performance and service delivery through greater transparency, more diligent disclosure of information and direct accountability mechanisms that enable users to raise their concerns and demand for better services.
The workshop highlighted concrete tools to fight corruption including business principles for countering bribery, transparent procurement mechanisms, and the use of development pacts to increase trust, accountability practices and to keep the customers informed. After the workshop, the representatives of the residents of the Old Town, regional Water Action Groups (WAGs), and MOWASCO made a commitment to work together and drafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the key points identified. The climax of the relationship was marked by a football match to foster unity symbolizing a fresh start to a joint initiative towards improving service delivery. The corporate affairs desk of MOWASCO is now working on ways of using the community football team as ambassadors of the water company to help them penetrate the community and share information.
MOWASCO has since pursued the recommendation in the TISDA report to advocate and improve customer relations through community engagement. They have held six barazas in Mombasa and in Old Town. The barazas have since been taken up seriously contrary to the previous situation, as minutes are taken and a follow up is made on the agenda of the baraza. Services at the front office have also improved. The metre readers are currently undertaking a training course on customer relations and they are now easily identified as genuine employees of the water company. A database has been developed to handle complaints filed and follow ups by the customer care desk thus increasing responsiveness.