A Citizen’s Report Card (CRC) exercise on Report Card (CRC) [LINK] on water and sanitation services was undertaken in Kenya’s three largest cities -Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu- in September and October 2006 as a means to gather feedback on levels of access to water, water quality, transparency of service, quality of service, and costs. The CRCs were given to a representative group of stakeholders in each city. CRC conclusions were further discussed in Focused Group Discussions and results were shared with service providers, policy-makers and the media.
Action and Outcomes
On one hand, levels of satisfaction with water services in all three cities were found to be average. On the other hand, the CRCs revealed that there are clear signs of inequity in access to water from main connections between the poor and the non-poor.
The report concludes that “the poor are also paying higher prices for lower levels of service than the non-poor.”
Access to water in times of scarcity is even more difficult for the poor.
There is generally relatively limited interaction between users and the water service companies. Indeed, 35% of respondents connected to mains did not pay their bills directly to the company. Of those who were connected to the mains and paying their own bills, few respondents actually reported offering or being asked for bribes. A general appreciation on levels of corruption was not conclusive. Overall, consumers reported not finding the water companies very accessible and were sceptical about having their complaints resolved and little information was shared between companies and users.
A review of the CRC exercise, showed that a combination of factors contributed to making the initiative possible:
- a relatively democratic space, the presence of experienced research organizations, free media and a vibrant civil society
- an endorsement from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, which was the CRCs as a useful opportunity to receive feedback on the impact of reforms. Senior government officials even participated in the project launch
- the willingness of service providers to receive and act on citizen feedback
Although the CRC was not designed to address water integrity specifically or to go deeply in assessing corruption levels, the report did yield useful feedback for all stakeholders and above all helped inform and engage users with service providers and policy-makers. The review points to examples of increased engagement: for example, “in 2008 governance challenges were reported to be plaguing the Mombasa Water Company and the Coast Water Services Board. In response, Mombasa residents worked collectively to appeal to the minister responsible for water to ensure that appointments to the coast Water Services Board reflected public interest.” Also, as a sign of the growing importance of oversight and accountability in the sector as a whole, a water and sanitation sector civil society Network (KEWASNET) was created in 2007.
From the implementation of a CRC:
- A general assessment of water sector service levels can serve as an entry point to address water integrity issues such as inequity and to help improve transparency, accountability and participation in the sector.
- The involvement of policy-makers, service providers, and an active civil society are essential elements of the initiative.
- Questionnaires are more effective if kept relatively short.
- Communicating throughout the initiative is also crucial. Discussing results with the participants yielded useful additional insight and spurred engagement. Discussing top-line findings with the service providers and policy-makers ahead of public launches helped reassure and engage them, and enabled them to prepare their responses for the media and the public.
- Having the capacity to undertake research (including developing sampling frames and conducting surveys) is an essential requirement for the organization leading the process