Flood and Drought Management Tools

Culmination of 2015/2016 El Nino Phenomenon and Challenges faced during ISO 9001 implementation

By Eng David Onyango, Joshua Oria and Harriet Ashoro | Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company Limited, Kenya

Culmination of 2015/2016 El Nino Phenomenon and Challenges faced during ISO 9001 implementation

Effects of the destruction on the infrastructure (KIWASCO, 2016)


In Kenya, the rains reached its peak in early December and there was widespread destruction that took place. Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (KIWASCO) encountered many water-related issues due to the El Nino phenomenon.  Kisumu County experienced a rise in water level in the lake , change in water quality and quantity, the inaccessibility to some installations, the frequent power supply interruptions and sewer overflows. Access to the water production plants was hampered and lake intake structures and barriers were also destroyed. The raw water quality kept on fluctuating due to rains and surface runoff in the region. KIWASCO had to manage carefully the fluctuation of water by monitoring the raw water quality at the intakes and adjust accordingly since the treated water quality can only discharge a fixed quantity of water. During extreme periods of rainfall events, drastic measures were employed, such as occasional shutdowns, until raw water quality stabilized to levels which could be handled by the plants.

With the current dry season, water levels at the intakes are dropping and KIWASCO fears for the future stability of water supply. However, dealing with the past challenges was not difficult because they were predictable and we had already anticipated. To ensure safe drinking water, KIWASCO applied the Water Safety Plan in their risk assessment and management strategic plan.  The next steps are to re-asses and validate the effectiveness of control measures.


KIWASCO received its ISO 9001:2008 certification in 2011 and was re-certified in 2015. During the first and second phases, the company encountered a number of challenges.

First, there was resistance to changes by some staff members because ISO introduced new concepts they were not used to in their daily activities. It was difficult for some to adjust the way they carried out daily operations but gradually and through continuous training, KIWASCO managed to internalize the process. With a good transition plan for their staff, the re-certification process was not too difficult to implement. Secondly, the desired communication needed to be repeatedly carried out during the weekly staff meetings in order to integrate ISO into the culture of the enterprise. The staffs were constantly reminded on the importance of the certification to their output. Thirdly, in the planning stages, KIWASCO had to offer the internal auditors, a refresher course in order to be trained better to streamline the process. This activity came with large financial costs and hence exerting financial challenges.

In the end, KIWASCO was able to successfully overcome many challenges of the re-certification of ISO. The ISO certification has helped the company to step forward in delivering better services to the residents of Kisumu County.