Water Service Provider COVID-19 Financial Stress Testing and Mitigation

A water service provider marketer gets customer feedback from a residential caretaker.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is the first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19, and recognizing this, the National Emergency Response Committee in Kenya directed water service providers (WSPs) to ensure that all Kenyans had access to water and handwashing facilities. Key in this directive was the requirement that water should be provided for free in informal settlements and public places, disconnected customers would be reconnected, and no disconnections for non-payment of bills would be carried out during the pandemic.

This technical brief discusses how the directive has amplified the financial effects of the pandemic on WSPs. Based on consultations with three WSPs, WASH-FIN found that COVID-19 has increased financial stress mainly due to undertaking new tasks they were not performing prior to the pandemic, while also facing a sharp decline in revenue collection.