Rwanda has made significant steps in improving water supply and sanitation across the country. Direct financing from the national budget for district water supply projects has increased from $2m (Frw1b) in 2006 and $7m (Frw3.5) in 2007.
Over 70,000 children have benefited from improved hygiene at school, thanks to sanitation facilities and water tanks. Some community development committees are now able to programme and execute water supply and sanitation investments.
Before 2006, an estimated 72 per cent of the rural population had access to water points, able to serve less than 200 users. Actual access was in fact much lower because of the poor condition of facilities. Only 20 per cent of rural schools and health centres had access to adequate sanitation facilities.
Rwanda’s rural water supply has traditionally faced such issues as top-down programming of investments, poor cost recovery, limited private sector participation and high per-capita investment costs for system construction.
Attempts by the World Bank to introduce community participation and ownership of facilities failed in the absence of strong government commitment to decentralisation.
Steps being taken
The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project financed by the International Development Agency is working to provide basic drinking water facilities to 370,000 people in rural areas and to promote better household sanitation and hygiene.
The project promotes water supply and sanitation systems that are planned, operated and maintained by water users’ associations (WUAs) with support from the private sector.
Grants and technical assistance for the construction of water and sanitation facilities go directly to rural communities.
A water and sanitation sub sector has been set up to improve effectiveness of actions undertaken for rapid sector development to attain the Millennium Development Goals and achieve Vision 2020.
The access rate to safe drinking water in rural areas has increased from 41 per cent in 2002 to 55 per cent in 2005 and from 66 per cent to 69 per cent in urban areas. A decentralisation approach in the water and sanitation sector was implemented.
Since 2002, nearly Frw7 billion has been invested by districts with support from the Common Development Fund and NGO’s.
The construction of water points and sanitation projects has been undertaken by HIMO (Highly intensive labour) programmes.
This has enabled local government authorities to sensitize citizens who work on these projects about the benefits of drinking safe water and personal hygiene.
The water and sanitation principles adopted in 2004 took gender into account. Men and women share in the responsibility of creating family awareness about sanitation.
The National Rural Water and Sanitation Programme is drawing a framework upon which local government can determine policies to enhance sustainable environment care.
To attain Vision 2020 and poverty reduction strategy targets, Lands, Environment, Water, Forestry and Mines (MINITERE) has set up the following plans and programmes:
Water Resources Management National Programme; National Drinking Water Supply Programme and Rural Sanitation; and Water Drinking Supply and Sanitation Investment Plan in the City of Kigali.
It is estimated that $820m (Frw434.6b) is required to meet Rwanda’s water and sanitation needs by 2015.