Senators task PM to address water shortage

Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, appearing before Senate to answer questions on the prevailing challenge of limited access to clean water. Nadege Imbabazi.

Senators on Thursday tasked Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, to move swiftly to address the problem of limited access to clean water in many areas of the country, urging him to lay out a detailed plan on how to reverse the current situation.

The legislators had summoned the premier to explain how government plans to address the challenge after a damning report by the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance, which indicated that Rwandans still face difficulties to accessing clean water.

The report, which was released in July, was a culmination of the committee’s countrywide tour, which started in February 2018 in order to establish the current level of access to water across the country.

Based on their findings, the senators are worried that the prevailing challenges could hinder the country from attaining its 2024 targets of universal access to clean water.

Their report indicates that issues preventing many Rwandans from accessing clean water include lack of data to indicate the real access to water and available water resources across the country, run-down water lines that critically need speedy and constant maintenance, as well as poor partnership between districts and private operators in the area of water processing and provision.

The challenges of access to water are compounded with poor performance of District Wash Boards that are in charge of water and sanitation as well as failure to harvest rain water.

The parliamentarians are also worried that the water sector is poorly funded.

On Thursday, the senators asked the PM to provide within one month a written explanation on the extent to which the on-going water projects will solve the water shortages across the country and the timeframe for the implementation of the water projects.

He was also asked to explain how water will be distributed to needy citizens, offer a plan on how to harvest rain water in schools and public buildings, show a map of Rwanda’s water resources, and explain the progress of the remarkable Mutobo water project.

“We need to make serious planning for providing access to water for citizens,” urged Senator Jean Damascène Ntawukuriryayo.

Senator Perrine Mukankusi agreed that a serious action plan is needed in order to address access to water.

He called for a review of the current national statistics which puts access to clean water is at 84.8 per cent.

“Do we have proper planning to address this issue or we need to revise our measurements and adjust planning?” she asked the premier.

The Director General of Water and Sanitation Corporation (Wasac), Aimé Muzola, told the senators in February this year that the number of Rwandans who actually get water could be 60 per cent.

That’s the situation, he told the MPs on the committee, even if those who have access to water infrastructure is at the 84.8 per cent, as indicated by the fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) published in September 2015.

Though EICV4 indicated that 84.8 per cent of Rwandans access potable water within 500 meters from their homes in rural areas and 200 meters in urban areas, senators are worried that the percentage could actually be about access to water infrastructure lines instead of actual water.

The Premier promised the senators that the government would work diligently to address the situation through increased investments in repairing dilapidated water lines.

Other measures, he said, involved following up on how water management entrepreneurs across different rural areas do their work in line with contracts they have signed with districts as well as building new water lines and water treatment plants.

He welcomed the senators’ ideas and observations and promised that the government will act to address the raised concerns.

“Most of them are good ideas that are constructive. It’s especially good that you raise concerns and whenever you mention them we go there and address them,” he said.

The government has promised that all Rwandans will have access to water in the next seven years starting from last year.

The pledge was reaffirmed last year when President Paul Kagame was re-elected to be the Head of State.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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