Unseen barrier of water risks to sustainable consumption and production in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) in Kenya

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Bessy Eva Kathambi
Linda Obiero


Water risk; water crisis; sustainable consumption and production; MSMEs; Kenya


World economic reports cite MSMEs as important vehicles for sustainable economic growth for any country. With changing climatic conditions, water, as a resource has become scarce thus water risks, have been underscored to be an unseen barrier to the posterity of MSMEs with the potential of impacting on their unsustainable consumption patterns. Global city populations projected to double by 2050; water issues and availability are rendered high risk for businesses. Kenya termed as a water-scarce country, transfers the harsh reality of water risks as an unseen barrier to any MSMEs. The aim of the study was to investigate the unseen barrier of water risks to sustainable consumption and production in MSMEs and their threat to business bottom lines. The study was conducted through a systematic literature review of articles on water crisis and MSMEs globally and in Nairobi. Findings of the study indicate that a water crisis may result in insufficient water for a business to maintain production, while poor water quality could increase pre-treatment costs for industry explicating water risk as an unseen barrier. Water risks are further impacted by weak water governance which results in erratic water deliveries, resulting in production delays. Water risks manifest in inadequate water quantity or quality, which require MSMEs to relocate water-intense operations to water secure areas and pursuing alternatives such as building artificial storage.  Water risks require huge investments to resolve it underscoring its unseen barrier for the posterity of the MSMEs. To mitigate water risks, cost-effective measures that can be taken comprise putting guidelines on water efficiency, measuring the consumption of water, and investing in new technology that ensures efficient use of water.