How much is Kenya spending on sanitation

Despite open government data (OGD) being a relatively recent phenomenon initially popular primarily in high income/developed countries, the last few years have seen a wave of low and middle income country governments undertaking OGD initiatives. Open government data initiatives have been able to acquire popular support so rapidly in part because of their ability to spark the interest of normally quite distinct communities.

When I began writing my last post on sanitation financing in Uganda, I knew I wanted to research a few countries to be able to compare and contrast the process. I also knew my search would be restricted to information available online and would therefore have to choose countries where I could reasonably expect to find publicly available budgets online. Kenya was an obvious choice in part because of their OGD imitative. I assumed that being OGD pioneers in the global South, I could reasonably expect to find up to date and comprehensive budgets available online.

The most recent update on  scores Kenya with a ‘2’ for the commitment to a separate budget line for sanitation, meaning that they do have one and allocations are used, but only a ‘1’ for the commitment to allocate 0.5% of GDP to sanitation, meaning that between 0.1 and 0.5% of GDP is allocated.

John Kiyonga Munyes, the Minister for Water and Irrigation signed the eThekwini Declaration in 2008, pledging to create a separate budget line for sanitation and hygiene and to commit 0.5% of GDP to it. Unfortunately, despite 239 pages of data sets publicly available on the open data portal (not counting maps, charts and links to external dataset), I was unable to find how much the government spent on sanitation last year.

One source available was a detailed dataset for spending from 2002/3 to 2009/10 and a dataset of total spending by ministry for the 2011/12 financial year.

Ministry spending totals are useful for generating visualisation comparing what proportion of the budget goes to various sectors but as there is no ministry of sanitation, are of little help for determining sanitation spending.

The 2002-2010 Public Expenditure dataset provides significantly more (albeit not up-to-date) detail. Within the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, I was able to find one separate budget line for sanitation (0227 Sanitation Services) with an estimated 19,008,000 KShs allocated in 2010/2011. However, this budget line seems to be new in the 2010/11 budget and because the dataset has not been updated, the executed spending column for this budget line remains blank.

Additional budget allocations for sanitation were reported at the sub-national level through both the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF). In 2009/10 the total executed sanitation spending reported through the CDF and the LAFT respectively was 2,892,847 KShs and 53,105,349 KShs, for a total of 55,998,196 KShs or around 0.0018% of GDP. Unfortunately, I was unable to find spending allocations for either of these funds more recent than 2009/10.

My findings are very much in line with a 2010 WSP report on water and sanitation financing in Kenya. The report explains that the lack of clarity in sanitation financing arises in part because the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, both in part responsible for sanitation in Kenya, are in different budget sector working groups.[1] The report also points out that while budget allocation from the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation to the ‘Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit” doubled in 2009, the majority of this is allocated to health service workers. Unfortunately, although these workers are suppose to dedicate 60% of their efforts to sanitation and hygiene promotion, the ministry has no budget line to actually fund these efforts.

Not one to give up easily, I went to the websites for the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and the Ministry of Finance in hopes that maybe more detailed budget information was available that had yet to be published on the open data portal.

I was able to find Budget Policy Statements for 2012 and 2013 from the Ministry of Finance but these dense documents left much to be desired. The Sector Programmes and Budgetary Allocations for 2012/13 through 2014-15 allocate 252 million KShs to Sewerage Services in 2012-13, which is projected to increase to 369 million KShs in 2013/14 and to 401 million KShs in 2014/15. In the 115 page policy document however, this is the only sanitation specific budget allocation I was able to find, although sanitation services were mentioned as part of other projects.

My Conclusions?

Going into my Kenyan data expedition on sanitation financing, I expected a relatively painless experience in part because I (naively) believed that all the necessary data would be neatly put together in spreadsheets and posted on their Open Data Portal. In the end, data available on the open data portal was out of date, forcing me to go through long, cumbersome policy documents to no great profit.

In regards to the eThekwini commitments, Kenya does have separate budget lines for sanitation but it does not appear to be spending 0.5% of GD on sanitation and hygiene. WSP report that current investment in sanitation is between 0.1% and 0.5%, although it is not clear in the report how they reached this figure nor whether the figure is for overall investment (both the government and donors). This is consistent with the WASHwatch analysis, and suggests that Kenyan investments in sanitation are below there commitments, and significantly lower than the estimated 0.9% of GDP lost due to inadequate sanitation in the country[2].


– Katelyn







[1] WSP. (2010). “Water Supply and Sanitation in Kenya : Turning Finance into Services for 2015 and Beyond”. (

[2] WSP. (2012). “Economic Impact of Poor Sanitation in Africa: Kenya”. (


Leave a Reply