Rwandan journalists empowered to take on WASH challenge

By Esther Muhozi
On 21 December 2023 at 08:54

Rwanda faces challenges in water accessibility, sanitation, and hygiene exacerbated by rapid population growth and urbanization. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Fifth Rwanda Population and Housing Census, only 57% of the population has access to safe drinking water within a 30-minute radius, and 64% enjoy basic sanitation facilities. Notably, wealth disparities further widen the accessibility gap, with 94% of the wealthiest households having private toilets compared to only 74% of the poorest households.

Bugesera district, identified as having one of the lowest access rates to improved drinking water, serves as a vivid example of the localized nature of these challenges. Insufficient access to safe water sources and inadequate sanitation facilities in Bugesera directly threaten community health and well-being.

In consideration of this situation, a two-day training program unfolded at the Palast Rock Hotel in Bugesera District, commencing on December 20, 2023.

Organized by Rwanda Young Water Professionals (RYWP) and WaterAid, the event aimed to bolster the capacity of journalists in addressing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) challenges.

The focus was particularly on gender sensitivity and climate resilience, seeking to foster a more informed and responsible media landscape capable of contributing to sustainable solutions.

The training recognized the interconnected dynamics of gender, climate change, and WASH issues. Women and marginalized communities bear disproportionate impacts from climate change, heightening the challenges faced by women traditionally responsible for water collection and management.

Why journalists?

Acknowledging the pivotal role of journalists in shaping public opinion and awareness, the training concentrated on gender-sensitive and climate-resilient reporting. Journalists were viewed as essential advocates for informed and responsible journalism, capable of raising awareness, advocating for policy changes, and contributing to sustainable solutions.

The "Gender-Sensitive and Climate-Resilience WASH Planning Training for Rwandan Journalists" sought to equip journalists with the knowledge and skills necessary for effective reporting on WASH issues. The specific focus on gender dynamics and climate resilience aimed to foster a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding water accessibility, sanitation, and hygiene.

Through this training, journalists gained insights into localized challenges, particularly those faced by communities in Bugesera district with the ultimate goal to empower them to communicate these issues accurately, ethically, and in a manner that drives positive change.

The training represented a crucial step toward building a more informed and engaged media landscape that contributes to the resilience and well-being of Rwandan communities.

As enshrined in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), Rwanda targets universal access to safe water by 2024.