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Meru County Urban Water: ‘Management has embraced all rules of the game’

Mr Joseph Mberia, Chief Executive Officer, Meru County Urban Water and Sanitation Services Company.

Meru County Urban Water and Sanitation Services Corporation was formed in 2014 to replace Meru Water and Sanitation Services Company, and Imenti and Tharaka Nithi Water and Sanitation Services Company. It was to provide and manage water and sanitation services in urban areas, and develop adequate water supply system for domestic and industrial use. It is among water companies scoring highly on water loss target. However, marks are low on extending water coverage and reducing personnel expenses. Water Tower editor Kaburu Mugambi spoke to Chief Executive Officer Joseph Mberia.

Water Tower: According to Water Services Regulatory Board’s performance assessment, Impact Report 2018, Meru County Urban Water and Sanitation Services Corporation and Nyeri Water and Sanitation Company were the only companies to score “good” in non-revenue water performance indicator. (Non-revenue water is water produced but is “lost” before it reaches the customer). How were you able to do this while other water companies failed?

Mr Joseph Mberia: I would attribute our performance to a number of things.

  • having good and disciplined practises
  • ensuring all customers have meters
  • embracing good quality of materials
  • practise credible workmanship
  • JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) rehabilitated our infrastructure..


         READ: Water Companies lose Sh7 billion annually to water leakages


The Impact Report 2018 shows that overall Meru County Urban Water and Sanitation Services Corporation dropped from position 2 in 2017 to position 15. What happened?

This happened during a transition period which made the utility to operate without a substantive board. As a result, key decisions were not being made for lack of complete corporate governance structure.


What are you doing to get back your position?

We are doing a number of things.

  • The board is already in place giving corporate shape and guidance.
  • There is the chief executive officer to enforce the operations of the utility.
  • The management of the utility has embraced all the rules of the game.


For two consecutive years, your company has scored “not acceptable” in two key indicators by the regulator (Wasreb). These are water coverage and personnel expenditures as a percentage to total operations and maintenance cost. What are you doing to score “good” or “acceptable”?

We are minimising in-house execution of works, in preference to contracting services, and proper utilisation of the utility’s regular staff in order to cut down on extra expenditure. We are also planning for alternative sources of water, for example, boreholes in order to increase our coverage.


What is your sewerage coverage?

Our sewerage coverage is 7%. We are  putting up a new sewerage line in Meru town, which will include a modern sewer treatment plant able to produce manure. It is modelled as the one bult by Nyeri Water and Sanitation Company.


What is your water customer base?

15,000 connections.


What projects did you complete in 2019?

We completed:

  • rehabilitation of Zone 2 pipelines (Kithoka Area)
  • installation of a more efficient pump at our Kigure plant
  • reinstatement of sections of pipeline networks destroyed during construction of Meru town and its environs by-passes.
  • design of a new water supply system



What projects are you planning to start or complete in 2020?

This year, we plan to:

  • replace aged meters
  • recycle backwash water
  • dink boreholes to supplement current water sources
  • relocate piping networks affected by proposed Meru town dual carriage way road.


The Government is urging water companies to extend their coverage to rural areas. What have you done toward meeting this requirement?

We have extended our network to Giaki area and we are currently planning on a larger system to increase production and cover a larger rural area.


How has your company used information and communication technology (ICT) to improve your work?

We employ ICT in the following areas

  • Billing
  • Mapping
  • Data collection

About Kaburu Mugambi

Kaburu Mugambi is a veteran of business reporting having worked with two national newspapers in Kenya. He is a graduate of economics from Kenyatta University. He started his journalism career in 2000 with The People Daily as a business reporter before becoming a business sub-editor. He joined Daily Nation in 2004 as a business writer. He holds a post-graduate diploma in mass communication from University of Nairobi's School of Journalism and an MBA in marketing from the same university. In 2016, he founded Water Tower, a media firm focused on water, energy and climate. Its content cuts across water, energy and climate with emphasis on adaptation and sustainability.

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