Rwanda is accelerating efforts to further improve access to safe water and basic sanitation.
Rwanda’s target is to provide safe drinking water to 100 per cent of its population by the year 2017.
The push for access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation are founded in Millennium Development Goal (MDG) seven, where countries pledged to halve the percentage of people living without these components by 2015.
Emma Françoise Isumbingabo, the State minister for energy and water in the Ministry of Infrastructure, who is attending the meeting, said Rwanda has made great progress in improving access to safe water and sanitation services with 74.5 per cent of the population now having access to a safe drinking water source.
“The government is determined to ensure sustainable functionality of water and sanitation infrastructure by developing effective management structures. Full coverage of water and sanitation can only be reached if the existing infrastructure continues to function sustainably and the available resources can be used for extending the coverage to unserved population,” the minister said.
She added that her ministry and Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) was keen on developing functional infrastructure in conjunction with various stakeholders.
“The Ministry of Infrastructure and EWSA will continue to be committed to fast-tracking the implementation of the project and ensure full support to all stakeholders including donors, districts and implementing partners in a bid to accelerate access to water supply, sanitation and hygiene towards reaching Rwanda’s MDGs,” Isumbingabo said.
Recognising the role played by various stakeholders, the minister thanked the Dutch government and Unicef for their five-year project to accelerate water supply, sanitation and hygiene (Wash).
The Wash project was launched in 2009 and winds up in December.
So far, Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu districts in the North-Western part of the country have benefited, contributing an average of a 20 per cent increase of equitable access to safe water and adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities.
The project has seen more than 500,000 people in the four districts get access to potable water sources. At least 127 schools and 27 health centres have been connected to a potable water source.
Impacts of activities
Other 139 schools and 29 health centres were availed with improved gender friendly sanitation facilities in the four districts.
Also put in place are active hygiene clubs and committees established in 200 schools and 1,400 villages to ensure sustainable hygiene practices there.
Burera mayor Samuel Sembagare said waterborne diseases have since gone down in the district.
“This project has brought positive changes in Burera where water borne diseases have reduced tremendously thanks to improved access to water and sanitation,” Sembagare said.
EWSA Deputy Director-General for water and sanitation, James Sano, said going by the statistics from various institutions and players in the sector, there had been an increase of access to water, sanitation and hygiene services over the past years.
Peter Harvey, Unicef’s regional advisor for Wash project, said the programmes had been designed in a way that it will be sustainable to run even after the completion of the five year programme.
“We are working with various partners ranging from local governments and central government to private sector to see how the gains can be sustained long after the completion of the project,” he said.
Noala Skinner, Unicef country representative, said they were involved as the project had a holistic child survival approach that would serve to reduce child mortality.
The two-day meeting is set to review progress on the regional water, sanitation and hygiene projects covering, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
The meeting will also review the best practices and what more needs to be done, not only for the programme design, but for the design of future programmes as well.
Rwanda achieved MDG on water and sanitation and surpassed it by 8 per cent three years ago, former State minister for Energy and Water, Eng. Colette Ruhamya, said at the time.