He made the revelation on Tuesday 18th October 2022 as he appeared before the parliamentary chamber of deputies to provide explanations on different issues including water distribution in rural areas, which raises concerns over hindrances that might impede government’s policy for universal access to safe water by 2024.
The decision to summon the minister was reached on 6th May 2022, following the community outreach visits of parliamentarians to different districts across the country to witness citizens’ livelihood standards and the implementation of development projects.
They established that some districts still have a lower percentage of residents with access safe water.
The problem was mainly noticed in the districts of Burera (43%), Nyabihu (56%), Nyagatare (60,2%) and others including Karongi, Nyaruguru, Ruhango and Rutsiro.
The parliamentarians also identified poor management including hiked water prices imposed by some water administrators, failure to rehabilitate water supply networks or ravaged water kiosks among others.
Some areas are reported to have idle water supply systems. The issue was specifically identified in Gakenke District where only 41 out of 100 similar infrastructures are fully operational while seven are not functional.
In Nyagatare District, it was observed that 33 villages do not have water despite the presence of water supply networks.
The Minister of Infrastructure, Dr. Erneste Nsabimana explained that the old system for water distribution in rural areas has changed.
He said that 90% of water supplied to the areas was from springs that were drained due to increase in human activities including agriculture and climate change as well.
This affected many projects that sources water from springs, but according to the minister, there is a plan to replace old water distribution systems to catch water from rivers and build mini water treatment plants.
“That is why the government has taken measures to build water treatment plants sourcing water from rivers and lakes. This plan will solve these problems. Related discussions with sponsors and relevant stakeholders are on commendable stages,” he said.
“We are left behind in building mini plants. Many northern Africa countries like Morocco and Senegal have applied the system and supplied large quantities of safe water to the population. It does not require advanced technology. Such plants are not expensive like large ones and are promising to get us on desired outcomes,” added Minister Nsabimana.
He explained that a master plan for water distribution has been designed in all districts noting that the remaining challenges are related to financial constraints.
“Inadequate budget is the major constraint where the blueprint is not aligned with our resources,” said Dr. Nsabimana.
Dr. Nsabimana disclosed that the government is aware of the issue of old water supply systems noting that they will be replaced depending on available means.
He explained that an assessment has indicated that 400 water distribution systems need to be replaced where the Ministry of Infrastructure needs Rwf15 billion to implement the project.
“We continue to discuss the issues with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. We will renovate them gradually depending on available means,” Dr. Nsabimana said.
Regarding the poor management of water resulting in hiked tariffs, Minister Nsabimana said that the related policy is being revised to address issue.