Where does Rwanda stand towards achieving universal access to safe water?

On 21 July 2021 at 02:57

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

The current water distribution policy in Rwanda shows that water is made easier when residents can fetch from 500 meters in rural areas or 200 meters in towns.

Despite the country’s ambitious target; Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) the only institution responsible for water distribution across the country has been mired in mismanagement and ineffective performance which is bound to affect the goal if no action is taken.

The issue saw parliamentarians summoning the Minister of Infrastructure, Amb Claver Gatete recently on 14th July 2021 to respond to queries related to the performance of WASAC and Rwanda Energy Group (REG).

Parliamentarians including Elizabeth Mukamana expressed concerns over old and ravaged water distribution networks that are not replaced as well as lost water believed to be among rampant problems that might hinder the target.

“How should we rest assured? What are areas of priority for Rwanda to achieve universal access to water?” she asked.

The concern was raised at a time when different parts of the country particularly in Eastern Province and parts of Kigali City often experience water shortage despite huge budget allocated for related infrastructures.

In a bid to address water scarcity in Kigali, WASAC invested over US$66 million for expansion and construction of new water treatment plants.

These include Nzove I, Nzove II and Nzove III. Each of the three plants was expected to produce 40 cubic meters per day but operated at 41% and 49% capacity between January and October 2019 as per General Auditor’s report.

Amb. Gatete explained that inefficient supply of water results from small networks and insufficient reservoirs.

He assured that there is plan to replace water supply networks with standard equipment along 568 kilometers in Kigali city and 1112 in secondary cities to be completed by the end of December 2021.

“It is not an easy task but we must be accomplished anyway,” stated Gatete.

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA), the revised Kigali City Water Supply Master Plan to be implemented until 2050 in partnership with Japan has been completed.

The latter is expected to facilitate budgeting for increased access to safe water among the population.

It is estimated that Kigali City will need 1,070,000 cubic meters per day by 2050.

Minister Gatete highlighted that increasing and upgrading water treatment plants is key for the target to materialize.

The quantity will be supplied from different treatment plants including Nzove (88,000 cubic meters), Karenge (102,000), Masaka (120,000), Nyabarongo (240,000), Gahanga (280,000), Rwesero (18000), and Rutonde (80,000) per day.

“Under this project, we plan to use large water pipelines and water reservoirs to keep uninterrupted flowing of water. We have created additional 900-diameter long water supply network from Nzove to Ntora to increase the current quantity by 87,000 cubic meters,” he said.

Water reservoirs are also expected to increase from the current 75 to 232 with the capacity of storing 118,589 cubic meters per day.

“With these efforts, the current volume of water in Kigali City will double. This gives optimism to address water shortage completely,” revealed Gatete.

It is expected that more 20,000 cubic meters from Nzove treatment plant will be supplied to Rugalika in Kamonyi district every day while water supply master plan in the remaining parts of the country will have been completed by November 2021.

Other water plants to be constructed upcountry include Gihira in Rubavu expected to produce 15,000 cubic meters, Moya in Rusizi, Mushongoro in Karongi, Muhazi in Gatsibo, Ngoma in Nyagatare, Sake in Ngoma and Busogwe in Nyanza among others.

Currently, 86% of Rwandans are reported to have access to safe water.

Nzove is among treatment plants to be upgraded.