M-Governance: Use of Technology in Water Service Delivery in Kenya

M-Governance: Use of Technology in Water Service Delivery in Kenya

Hilda Moraa (iHub Research, Kenya), Anne Salim (iHub Research, Kenya) and Albert Otieno (iHub Research, Kenya)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4900-2.ch013


iHub Research conducted a study on 896 citizens to establish whether citizens raise alarm when faced with problems related to water. The study aimed to ascertain the communication channels they use to forward complaints to relevant authorities and the level of satisfaction obtained by the citizens after their complaints have been received. The study found that 68% of the respondents had faced challenges while trying to access their main source of water and were not able to complain to anyone about the problems affecting them due to inexistence of appropriate communication channels. A lack of understanding with regards to whom or where to complain was cited as one of the major reasons as to why most respondents do not complain about the water service levels. Majority of the citizens interviewed use face-to-face communication to raise their water grievances. Levels of satisfaction were found to vary when it comes to rating the action taken on water complaints raised. This study opines that with the emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) this scenario is poised to change. The study participants revealed that they are motivated to utilise ICTs to air their complaints with regards to their levels of service satisfaction. Emerging ICT applications, especially those accessible on mobile devices, provide a lot of promise for enhancing water service delivery in Kenya because feedback on water/service quality can be received ubiquitously.
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Poverty is one of the many problems faced by many developing countries. It is a stumbling block to the development of any economy in the world, Kenya inclusive. The Government of Kenya (GoK) has been undertaking a series of reforms aimed at enhancing quality, efficiency and transparency in service delivery by public sector institutions in an effort to alleviate poverty. There are opportunities through Kenya’s current Development Framework, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2030, which aims at transforming Kenya into a newly industrialized middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030. The elimination of poverty is pegged on improved access to water supply and appropriate sanitation whose achievement is hinged on good governance, accountability, feedback, action and transparency. Since poverty is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, it is assumed that reducing or eliminating it should also employ a multi-dimensional approach. Therefore, in addition to the poverty-reduction-strategies being implemented by the GoK, the use of ICTs in public service delivery channels shows a pronounced positive promise.

iHub Research conducted a study covering urban and rural areas of the three counties (Kiambu, Migori, and Makueni) in Kenya. The methodology used to conduct this study involved literature review, development of study framework tools, mapping, field data collection and analysis. In-depth interviews were conducted with a total of 896 people and key informant discussions with 9 stakeholders in the water sector in the three counties in Kenya. The main objective of the study was to explore Use of Technology (herein ICTs) in escalating citizen complains and satisfaction in water service delivery. This was achieved by understanding: if citizens raise their water issues, who and where they complain to, whether they receive any feedback or action after complaining and if they were satisfied with the service they received. Citizens were also asked if they were aware of some mobile technology tools that have been created to enable them communicate with water service providers and government as well.

This chapter intends to highlight the challenges faced in effecting a quality water service delivery in Kenya and thereafter outline the prospects of utilising ICTs with a view to provide a participatory service. The chapter looks at mobile applications which are being implemented in Kenya in the realm of m-Government (The use of mobile ICTs to improve public service delivery). It can be seen from this chapter that there are a lot of prospects brought about by the emerging mobile technology platforms. In the water sector, citizens may be accorded an opprotunity to engage with the water service providers in a bit to improve the overall service delivery.

The chapter is arranged as follows: the next section presents the background which outlines the general conceptualisation of ICT usage in the water sector and outlines prospects brought about by the emerging technologies. Thereafter, the study context and findings are outlined and presented. The chapter then presents the recommendations (which are not recommendations per se but pointers which may aid effective mainstreaming of ICTs, among other things, towards an improved water service delivery framework). After that, a future research section is presented outlining the future works both from the research and practical perspective. The last section is the conclusion which provides a recap of what has been discussed in this chapter.

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