Today, as Rwanda joins the rest of the world to mark the 25th World Water Day on every 22 March 2018, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is continuing to show and demonstrate its commitment to support Government of Rwanda through Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) to reduce non- revenue water (NRW) that currently stands at 38 per cent in urban areas. JICA and WASAC are running a three-year project “Strengthening Non-Revenue Water Control in Kigali City Water Network (NRW project)” started in 2016 for reduction of water losses in Kigali city.
NRW is the difference between the volumes of water produced and introduced into the water distribution system and the volumes of water consumed by the customers and billed to them. Generally, the water leakage, meter inaccuracy and illegal water use are the main cause of NRW. It is also due to aged facilities like meters and pipeline and some operation inefficiency, according to the experts.
NRW causes huge impact on safe drinking water access. Moreover, it decreases revenues from billed water and increases operation cost. WASAC sets target to reduce NRW from the current 38 per cent to at least 25 per cent in five years from 2016.
WASAC lauds the support in addressing non-revenue water
Bahige Jean Berchmans, the manager of Non Revenue Water at WASAC says, “As a water utility that is mandated to supply water to people efficiently, we have to manage the NRW properly. Because some Japanese water utilities are very famous with low NRW ratio and efficient operation, we requested the Government of Japan through the Government of Rwanda to support our NRW reduction activities in 2015. Since 2016, we are working with JICA experts under the project.” The project aims to enhance WASAC’s capacity to conduct NRW reduction measures for Kigali City so that WASAC can apply the knowhow to other areas in Rwanda. To achieve the target, it provides necessary support for technically and financially. The experts train on how to measure water flow, detect invisible leakages, test meter accuracy, repair damaged pipes, and procure new equipment. Additionally, key WASAC staffs had an opportunity to visit Japan and learn how to manage NRW from Yokohama Water Bureau and Kobe Water Bureau which are one of the best water utilities in Japan which has lower than 10% of NRW rate.
“The holistic approach is needed to reduce water losses. There are issues which we can deal with immediately like quick leak repair and faulty meter replacement. On the other hand, there are issues for which the detailed survey and analysis is needed. Therefore, we developed “5-years strategic plan for non-revenue water reduction” as one of the tools to supply safe drinking water to all which should be done in an integrated manner,” Mr. Bahige told Newtimes. He explains that involvement of whole WASAC is the key to success, especially the branches and water treatment plants. All related department will ensure the full support for the implementation of this 5YSP. Also, NRW unit will be the driving force for the implementation of all planned activities. Masanobu Mayusumi, long-term expert for the project added, “JICA technical cooperation project is quite unique . We, JICA experts don’t reduce NRW by ourselves. Instead, we encourage WASAC staff to change the mindset and way of works by giving some techniques and knowledge.”
By reducing non revenue water, the revenue will be increased, the operation cost will be reduced and more water can be supplied to the users. Both experts say, “We believe that NRW reduction will contribute to lead WASAC to the better organization and contribute to the national target.”
At the end of the interview, they added “We’ll do the best for better services. However, the support and involvement of the general population are necessary to reduce the NRW. In case you find water leakage from our pipeline, please call 3535. We’ll try to fix it as soon as possible after receiving the information.”
JICA in water and sanitation sector
JICA has been working in water and sanitation sector which is one of the priority areas of Japanese Official Development Assistance. It mainly works for water supply both in rural and urban area. In rural water supply, three phases of Rural Water Supply Project in Eastern Province implemented from 2006 to 2017 provides safe drinking water to more than 120,000 people in the targeted area. The total cost of this series of the project is around 31 million USD. JICA’s support is not limited to infrastructure but also to technical support. Recently, RWASOM-HORANA AMAZI project, officially named “Project for Strengthening Operation and Maintenance of rural water supply systems,” is on-going to improve operation and maintenance of rural water facilities to ensure sustainable water supply. Also, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) are working on the ground with local government and community for improvement of water and sanitation, known as “Rwanda Water Security Team (RW-SAT)”.
The collaboration between JICA and WASAC expects more in water and sanitation sector to contribute economic and social development in the country.