The Water Act, 2002 created the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) as a semi-autonomous government institution and a key State Corporation under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

The Authority is the lead agency that is mandated to manage the water resources in the country. WRMAs overall development objective is to ensure rational, effective management of the water resources and equitable access for the various competing needs.

Mandate according to the Water Act 2002


The Water Act, 2002 confers the following powers and functions to the Authority:

a)    To develop principles, guidelines and procedures for the allocation of water resources;

b)   To monitor, and from time to time re-assess, the national water resources management strategy;

c)    To receive and determine applications for permits for water use;

d)   To monitor and enforce conditions attached to permits for water use;

e)    To regulate and protect water resources quality from adverse impacts;

f)     To manage and protect water catchments; 

g)    In accordance with guidelines in the national water resources management strategy, to determine charges to be imposed for the use of water from any water resource;

h)   To gather and maintain information on water resources and from time to time publish forecasts, projections and information on water resources;

i)     To liaise with other bodies for the better regulation and management of water resources;

j)     To advise the Cabinet Secretary with respect to water resources regulation and management




In accordance with guidelines in the National Water Resources Management Strategy, (2010-2016), the above functions entail:

1.     Planning, management, protection and conservation of water resources

2.    Water allocation, apportionment, assessment and monitoring of water resources

3.    Issuance of water permits

4.    Water rights and enforcement of permit conditions

5.    Regulation of conservation and abstraction structures

6.    Catchment and water quality management

7.    Regulation and control of water use

8.    Coordination of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Plan

The Water Resources and Management Authority’s Strategic Objectives are as follows:

1.      Strengthen water resources information gathering and management systems

2.      Improve water resources planning, allocation and compliance to regulation

3.      Improve the protection of water resources

4.      Strengthen stakeholder collaboration in water resources management

5.      Build institutional capacity and improve working environment

6.      Enhance resource mobilization and effective use of the finances



WRMA’s functions can be grouped into four broad categories as follows;

Improving the Water Resources Information Knowledge base


This function involves the collection of all information on water resources, analysis, storage and dissemination. This information is critical for water allocation, water resources investment decision making and modelling to enact scenarios to better understand the impact of climate change in future. WRMA collects analyses, uses and keeps the following water Resources information:

·         Hydromet data (rainfall, temperature, evapotranspiration, humidity wind speeds and direction etc.)

·         Surface water information ( river flows, sediments loads,)

·         Ground water information ( ground water levels, chemical qualities, aquifer


·         Water quality information for different water bodies

·         General characteristics of all water bodies ( Updating the Register of all water bodies)

Regulation and control of the Use of Water Resources


This function requires WRMA to sustainably and equitably allocate water resources among competing needs. It also requires that stakeholders are involved in the process. WRMA uses the “water use permit” tool to carry out this functions. It involves the following activities:

·         Development of Water allocation plans – water abstraction and pollution surveys, analysis and compilation. These are used to guide allocations

·         Water allocation, through processing applications and granting of water use permits

·         Stakeholder consultations in the permit processing and enforcement – use of CAACs, public consultations and WRUAs

·         Enforcing conditions attached to the permits. Ensuring compliance to WRM rules

·         Ensuring the residual water is maintained in the country’s water bodies

Protecting the water Resources from adverse impacts


This function requires WRMA to control pollution and improve water quality in the country’s water bodies. It involves integrating land use activities and human actvities into WRMA Water Quality control programs. This includes the following activities

·         Catchment protection, restoration and management

·         Identification, documentation and gazetment of  fragile water sources, vegetating the catchment areas , soil erosion control activities

·         Involvement of communities living in water catchments in pollution control activities ( WRUAs, effluent dischargers, road construction agencies)

·         Water pollution control and monitoring ( Enforcement of WRM rules, River clean ups , Solid waste management, Effluent discharge management, Accidental pollution)

Managing Disaster Risks induced by Water resources


This function deals with the control of water resources quantities in disaster situations such as floods, which if not controlled have been known to cause huge loss of lives, human suffering, destruction of property and significant impairment of economic activities. These high and low quantities are due to natural seasonal dynamics. These episodes have however, in recent times, increased in severity as a result of climate change impacts. WRMA, as the manager of the resource, has to be involved in the management of the associated risks. The activities within this function include:

·         Capacity building of the local communities to go through these episodes with minimal loss, suffering and destruction

·         Collecting, analysing, storage and dissemination of information on impacts of these disaster risks

·         Providing early warning information for people to take early action

·         Developing and implementing integrated flood and drought management systems on a river basin level


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