Access to Water in Kenya’s Coast Region: A Challenge to Community Development and Poverty Alleviation in Lamu County


Water is considered a basic commodity and essential for life - living on planet earth is dependent on it. However, access to water has been and will continue to be a dilemma for a majority of the residents at the coast of Kenya. A close look at the window on “Coastal Resources and People” reveals that water is a key resource but despite its immense importance, many people especially in the rural areas and the Vulnerable and Marginalized Groups (VMG’s) do not have adequate access to potable, reliable and convenient sources of water. Lamu, currently considered among water scarce counties in Kenya as per the Lamu County Integrated Development Plan (, faces serious challengeof provision of potable water to its residents. With the influx of people from other parts of the country as a result of the implementation of the Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project - Lamu Port Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET), the current water stresses is only expected to worsen. The Lamu County Government plans to address the ever-increasing demand for access to water but resources to actualise these plans are yet to be consolidated. To complement this situation, Kenya Coastal Development Project (KCDP), a World Bank funded project is working with local communities in Lamu in thedevelopment and implementation of community-led water projects targeting to increasing access to water at household level.This paper will focus on community-based approaches to understand the water-web in Lamu East Sub-County to provide an assessment of opportunities, challenges and sustainability implications. Primary data is used on surveys, Social Assessment (SA) Vulnerable and Marginalised Group Plan (VMGP), observations and recommendations from the Lamu CIDP. It further proposes that of direct usage of saline water, seawater or brackish water, for sanitation purposes could alleviate the freshwater shortage.