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”. (


What is the Government of Uganda Spending on Sanitation?

Countries signing the eThekwini declaration in 2008 agreed to two explicit commitments concerning sanitation financing. They pledged to create separate budget lines for sanitation and hygiene and committed to spend at least 0.5 percent of GDP on sanitation and hygiene. Although the eThekwini has been widely adopted, WASHwatch users reported that it is still difficult to know whether their government had delivered on these two commitments.

5 years on from the eThekwini declaration, I decided to investigate whether the governments of Uganda, Kenya and Ghana had created sanitation budget lines and how much they were reporting to be spending on sanitation and hygiene. I recognise that the availability, and transparency of budget information is likely to vary greatly between countries and I admit to choosing countries I believed would have relatively high levels of budget transparency. Wish me luck on my journey through budgets, policy documents and spreadsheets!


Not being in Uganda, I had to rely on available digital resources and started my investigation in the most obvious place, the websites for the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Water and Environment.

According to Ministry of Water and Environment’s (MWE) Sector Performance Report (SPR), a study in 2009 recommended the establishment of a separate budget line for sanitation, which was created but left unfunded until the FY 2011/12.

During the FY 2011/12, the MWE, through the Sanitation District Grant, allocated 2 billion UGX to Ugandan districts, with each district receiving between UGX 19 to UGX 21 million. The government recommended using the money for the following:

  • carry out baseline surveys
  • create demand for improved sanitation through either Home Improvement Campaigns and/or Community Led Total Sanitation
  • promote hand washing as part of the demand creation
  • carry out activities to mark the Sanitation Week.

Further information on sanitation financing can be found in the MWE Ministerial Policy Statement* containing the approved budget for 2011/12 and 2012/13 projections. Unfortunately, the 490 page document is no breeze to get through. The document details spending for the entire sector and addresses sanitation and hygiene specifically in a few different sections. There are separate budget lines for the following:

  • 321449 Sanitation District Conditional Grants (page 476, 479, 483- 486) (see above): The grant is intended to support decentralised urban councils to plan for improved operation, management and financial performance by providing funds to bridge the gap between operation costs and revenue collection.
  • Rural Water Supply and Sanitation :
    • 090103 Promotion of sanitation and hygiene education (pg. 86)
    •  090182 Construction of Sanitation Facilities (Rural) (pg. 88)
  • Urban Water Supply and Sanitation :
    • 090205 Improved sanitation services and hygiene (pg. 94)
    • 090282 Construction of Sanitation Facilities (Urban) (pg.97)
Sanitation as a Percentage of GDP 2011/12 and 2012/13 Estimates
2011/12 2012/13 Estimates
GDP (UGX) 43,285,750,000,000 43,285,750,000,000
GoU 0.021 0.015
Donor 0.125 0.124
Total 0.146 0.016

In the end, I was able conclude that Uganda has separate budget lines for sanitation, they have five in fact; however, from what I was able to find, the government does not appear to be spending 0.5% of GDP on sanitation.

According to my calculations, for the approved 2011/12 budget, the Ugandan Government has committed 0.02% of GDP to sanitation. This number goes up substantially when donor funding is included (0.146% of GDP). Unfortunately, the 2012/13 projections report a reduction in sanitation financing to 0.01% of GDP due to a reduction in government spending of around 1 million USD.

It is certainly possible that there are other sanitation budget lines that I was unable to find. This merely highlights the importance of clearly identifying where sanitation, water and hygiene spending appear in the budget. While having budget lines for sanitation is excellent, having the information buried in long policy statements is not.

Katelyn Rogers

*Full MWE Ministerial Policy Statement can be downloaded from shared files in sidebar

Sanitation and Hygiene Budget Line Spending 2011/12 and 2012/13 in UGX

2011/12 Total

2011/12 GoU

2011/12 Donor

2012/13 Projections Total

2012/13 Projections GoU

2012/13 Projections Donor

SDG 321449



RWSS 090103







RWSS 090182







UWSS 090205







UWSS 090282








What is this budget line thing anyway?

One of the commitments monitored on WASHwatch is – have governments established a separate budget line for sanitation and have they committed enough funds to it.

This commitment is arguably the lynchpin of all existing commitments to prioritise water and sanitation, as demonstrated by its repeated inclusion in international declarations (all available under shared files in sidebar).

–          Ministers who signed the 2008 eThekwini Declaration explicitly pledged to “create separate budget lines for sanitation and hygiene in their countries and to commit at least 0.5% of GDP”.

–          Similarly, the 2008 Delhi Sacosan Declaration lays out a roadmap to 2015 MDG completion with 1-2% of the Government’s annual budget to be allocated to sanitation.

–          At the 4th annual SACOSAN Colombo Declaration, Ministers explicitly agreed “to establish specific public sector budget allocations for sanitation and hygiene programs” .

The shift in phrasing from ‘separate budget line’ to ‘specific public sector budget allocation’ is significant. Sanitation and hygiene spending is often divided up between different ministries, making it complicated to track.

For example, a single national budget might include hygiene spending in the Ministry of Education budget, sanitation spending in the Ministry of Water budget and both sanitation and hygiene spending through the Ministry of Health.

Having sanitation and hygiene under the jurisdiction of multiple ministries is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as there is a clear institutional mechanism for coordination and oversight.

The essence of the ‘single budget line’ commitment is transparency, and this can equally be achieved by identifying sanitation, water and hygiene spending, separately and comprehensively, wherever they appear in the budget. These separate budget headings can then be easily aggregated together to give totals for sanitation, hygiene and water.

Unfortunately, our user survey revealed that of all the commitments monitored on WASHwatch, this was the most difficult. And this undermines the essence of transparency:

–          To properly analyse the effectiveness of government spending on sanitation and hygiene…

–          To calculate realistic projections of the spending that would be necessary to achieve universal access…

–          To compare the prioritisation that is being accorded to sanitation across time and across regions…

–          To lookout for corruption…

…We have to know what is currently being spent! 


Keeping Promises Report: Key Findings

Are countries delivering on their water and sanitation commitments? This is the question WASHwatch helps monitor and it is the subject of the recent WaterAid report entitled Keeping Promises: Why African Leaders Need Now To Deliver On Their Past Water And Sanitation Commitments.

Keeping Promises takes an in depth look at where five Sub- Saharan African  countries (Ghana, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda) stand in terms of delivering on the water and sanitation commitments that they have made, highlighting success and shining light on areas where more still needs to be done.

While substantial progress has been made towards achieving targets for access to water, all five countries are off-track in terms of access to sanitation. In fact, with the exception of Rwanda, the countries are substantially off track, with a gap of more than 20% between 2010 coverage and the 2010 sanitation target.


One answer is the low priority given to sanitation financing. All five countries have made commitments to spend 0.5% of GDP on sanitation, and to be more transparent about sanitation financing by creating a separate budget line. Nevertheless, transparency remains limited and available evidence indicates that this spending target is not being reached. For example, the Government of Sierra Leone estimates that 2012 sanitation spending was less than 0.01% of GDP and in Ghana, urban sanitation spending has not exceeded 0.15% of GDP in over 5 years.

More worrying yet is that the 0.5% of GDP is probably a low estimate of the spending necessary to achieve  the MDG target for sanitation. Furthermore, the findings of Keeping Promises are not unique to the countries investigated. A World Bank survey of 18 Sub-Saharan countries determined that in all but five countries investment in sanitation was less than 0.1% of GDP.

The WASHwatch user survey revealed that of all the commitments monitored on WASHwatch, determining whether governments have in fact created a separate budget line for sanitation and whether they are spending 0.5% of GDP on it were the most difficult.

Therefore, over the next 3 weeks, I will be investigating sanitation spending in Uganda, Kenya and Ghana, to see what I can find out about public spending and budget transparency. While the Keeping Promise report provides a strong indication of what I can expect to find in terms of outcomes, I am more interested in chronicling the process.

I want to know more about the following:

  • Where to look?
  • What to look for?
  • What is available publicly?
  • What needs to be available publicly- the crucial information gaps?