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US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission in Kenya Visits SUWASA Prepaid Meter Water Project in Nakuru
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission in Kenya Visits SUWASA Prepaid Meter Water Project in Nakuru

From left to right: the Nakuru County Minister for Natural Resources, Environment, Water and Energy, Richard Kipsang Rop; the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission in Kenya, Isiah Parnell; and the NAWASSCO Acting Managing Director, James N’gang’a.

From left to right: the Nakuru County Minister for Natural Resources, Environment, Water and Energy, Richard Kipsang Rop; the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission in Kenya, Isiah Parnell; and the NAWASSCO Acting Managing Director, James N’gang’a.

Representatives of the community and local utility warmly welcomed the US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission in Kenya, Isiah Parnell, during his visit to the pre-paid meter water project in Nakuru on Oct 3, 2014. “The prepaid meters have made water convenient, affordable, reliable and safe, and we are happy to be a part of the project,” Mr. Parnell declared after speaking with beneficiaries. The Nakuru project is part of the USAID-funded Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA) Kenya initiative, which the Development Innovations Group (DIG) has been implementing since 2010 as a subcontractor to Tetra Tech. Under SUWASA Kenya, DIG applies its innovative financing model that links utilities with commercial loans to improve and expand water services for Kenya’s urban poor.  In the city of Nakuru, the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company (NAWASSCO) was the first to adopt this innovative financing approach to pilot a communal pre-paid water project. 

In Nakuru, SUWASA Kenya successfully fostered an unprecedented public/private partnership among NAWASSCO, Family Bank, and the Government of Kenya’s Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF). The partnership was structured to support NAWASSCO in the purchase of 95 communal meters to address the problem that many residents did not have access to reliable and affordable piped, clean water.  As a result, more than 13,000 residents now have easy, continuous access to potable water at a fraction of the cost they used to pay. Building on the success of the SUWASA prepaid meter pilot project, the utility aims to expand the number of pre-paid meters to serve 40,000 people by the end of 2015.

The SUWASA Kenya program was instrumental in helping NAWASSCO unlock commercial financing to improve its service delivery by working with the community, the utility, and the bank. With SUWASA Kenya’s support, the utility identified a market-driven, commercially-viable infrastructure investment, and developed a loan application for bank financing. SUWASA Kenya also provided technical assistance to Family Bank on the design and delivery of customized loan products for utilities needing capital. Another important partner in the Nakuru project was WSTF, which provides financial support to utilities to increase access to water in unserved and underserved areas of Kenya. Furthermore, SUWASA Kenya secured financing for an additional 80 meters through a contribution from USAID’s Small Investment Program.

DIG’s innovative financing model is transforming the water sector in Kenya. To date, DIG – through the SUWASA Kenya program – has supported a dozen utilities in identifying and accessing financing for investments valued at over USD 4.6 million to improve the poor’s access to safe, reliable and affordable water. The SUWASA pilot projects, such as the Nakuru communal pre-paid meter system, have demonstrated that utilities can access financing for commercially-viable water projects that can be replicated and adapted in urban poor areas throughout the country.

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