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Water firms ranking: Nyeri tops again

A table of overall top and bottom 10 water firms.

Nyeri Water and Sewerage Company has emerged number one in a performance assessment done in 2020 by Water Services Regulatory Board. Nyeri has been leading since 2010, only missing in 2018 when it tied at top position with Ruiru-Juja Water and Sewerage Company.

Nakuru Water and Sanitation Company took position two. Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company, which was number two last year dropped to number nine.

Meru Water and Sanitation Company rose from number four to number three.

Isiolo Water and Sewerage Company posted the most improved results by moving from number 13 in 2019 to number 4 last year.

Isiolo tied at number 4 with Ruiru-Juja Water and Sewerage Company and Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company.

Embu Water and Sanitation Company dropped from number six in 2019 to number 16 last year.

Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company dropped from number 32 in 2019 to number 39 last year. Nairobi is the biggest water firm serving 3.6 million people.

Water Services Regulatory Board monitors water services firms’ work and publishes results in its annual Impact Report.

The board said comparative competition through ranking of utility performance is a key tool for driving utility efficiency.

Where do scores come from?

Water coverage – percentage of people served with water services divided by people in service area. It should be more than 90%.

Drinking water quality – takes into account drinking water quality, residual chlorine and bacteriological quality. Should be more than 95%.

Hours of supply – average number of hours water services are provided per day of all the zones served by a firm. For population of more than 100,000 it should be 21-24 hours; for population less than 100,000 it is 17-24 hours.

Personnel expenditure as a percentage of operation and maintenance costs – percentage of sum of personnel expenditure during reporting period divided by total operation and maintenance costs. For large and very large firms, it should be less than 20%; medium firms, less than 30%; small firms less than 40%.

Operation and maintenance cost coverage – percentage of total operating revenue divided by total operating expenditure. It should be at least 150%.

Revenue collection efficiency – percentage of total revenue collected divided by total billing. It should be more than 95%.

Non-revenue water – percentage of water losses from illegal connection, meter reading inaccuracies and leakages divided by volume of water produced. It should be less than 20%.

Metering ratio – percentage of total number of active metered connections divided by total number of active connections. It should be 100%.

Staff productivity – total number of staff in a firm divided by total number of active connections plus number of sewer connections. For large and very large firms, it should be less than 5; medium and small firms in less than 3 towns, less than 7; medium and small firms in three or more towns, less than 9.

How firms earned their marks

Water firms earn marks on the nine performance areas. Nyeri Water scored 169 points out of 200.

The firm scored ‘good’ in six of nine evaluated areas. It scored ‘good’ in drinking water quality, non-revenue water, hours of supply, staff productivity, revenue collection and metering. It scored ‘acceptable’ in cost coverage and ‘not acceptable’ in personnel expenditure.

Nakuru got 152 points. It scored ‘good’ in water coverage, staff productivity, revenue collection and metering. It got ‘acceptable’ in drinking water quality, hours of supply, personnel expenditure and cost coverage.  The firm was rated ‘not acceptable’ in non-revenue water.

Meru scored 146 points. It scored ‘good’ in drinking water quality, non-revenue water, hours of supply, staff productivity and metering. It was ‘acceptable’ in revenue collection and cost coverage. It got ‘not acceptable’ on water coverage and personnel expenditure.

Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company scored 74 points. It got ‘not acceptable’ in non-revenue water, water coverage, hours of supply and personnel expenditure.

Assessment of water firms’ performance in 2020

The board’s outgoing Chief Executive Officer Robert Gakubia said there was general decline in performance.

He said only three indicators recorded improvement while five declined and one stagnated.

“This, is a departure from the previous reporting period where improved performance was recorded in four indicators, a drop in three and stagnation in two,” Mr Gakubia said.

Water coverage for areas served by regulated firms declined from 59% in 2019 to 57% in 2020. The board attributed this to population growth surpassing growth in access.

Sewer coverage declined from 17% recorded in 2018/19 to 15% in the current period.

Non-revenue water increased from 43% to 47%.

National Water Services Strategy targets non-revenue water of less than 30%. Vision 2030’s non-revenue water goal less than 25%.

“The indicator has not recorded significant improvement despite the commercialisation of services,” Mr Gakubia said.

Impact Report 2020 says more focus must be put on non-revenue water reduction to improve sustainability of water firms.

“The continued decline of this indicator in the last two years despite improvement in other KPIs [key performance indicators] does not give comfort that the current level of service can be sustained going forward,” the report says.

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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