Half-hearted devolution: A view of Kenya’s water governance from Siaya County, Kenya

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3 Scopus citations


Decentralization in countries around the world occurred as a form of structural revolution in redistribution of power in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2010, Kenya too went through a fundamental reform in which a new constitution was promulgated, which put into place a devolved system of government. This structural revolution has directly affected issues related to water governance in Kenya, but reflects similar trends and changes established internationally. This article reviews the devolution process in Kenya and its consequences. It delves into water legislation from the perspective of devolution and analyzes how devolution functions and objectives were formed with the new regulations. Finally, this study analyzes how policies and their ramifications are manifested on the ground in Siaya County in Western Kenya. The author applies mixed methodical methods of document review of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and of the Water Acts 2002 and 2016 as well as open-structured interviews with relevant stakeholders and observations conducted in Siaya County on two field trips between July 2017 and February 2018. A close examination of the impact of devolution on the sustainable access to clean water in Siaya County will demonstrate that the transition to devolution and compliance with the 2016 Act have led to the surfacing of a host of problems including inadequate governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-338
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Middle East and Africa
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • Devolution
  • Kenya
  • Siaya County
  • Sustainability
  • Water access
  • Water governance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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