The Pro-Poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) has published a policy brief on the role Payments for Watershed Services (PWS) can play in sustainable land management for water provision. The policy brief analyzes the potential for using PWS in the Sasumua watershed. This watershed supplies part of the water used in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Nearly 75% of the watershed is intensively cultivated on parcels of land averaging 1.1 hectares per household. Because of the proximity to the reservoir, very little filtration and sediment deposition takes place before runoff water reaches the reservoir. Different land use changes were analyzed, and results show that implementing terraces or grass filter strips would reduce sediments (85% reduction for terraces, 40-50% for grass strips). Either method, however, would only bring about marginal changes in water quantity. Implementing and maintaining these changes is currently too expensive for farmers.
An investigation into the possibility of using PWS to implement these changes was undertaken. Results showed that 91% of the smallholder farmers interviewed were willing to accept payments to establish and maintain these changes, especially grass strips. At the same time, a survey among water consumers in Nairobi indicated that over 40% were willing to pay an extra $1.25 to finance the conservation of the watershed. The problem, though, is that it is unclear who, if anyone, has the right to collect a water fee and redistribute income to the farmers. There are four different institutions involved in water administration: the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Water Resources Management Authority, Water Resource User Associations, and the Water Services Trust Fund, each of which has its own restrictions and challenges related to PWS implementation. The policy brief recommends that a change in policy and legal frameworks needs to be made in order for PWS to play a role in protecting water resources in Kenya.