What is WASAC doing to address water shortages?

Kigali residents say they continue to experience water shut offs for large parts of the day, raising concerns over what the water utility authority is doing to bring lasting solutions.
People draw water in Karongi District. WASAC is considering legal action against defaulters to recover outstanding bills it is owed. File

Many Kigali residents and beyond persistently continue to raise concerns over unstable water supply, even as more projects to provide water to all Rwandans are initiated.

For the past few years, at least more than one water projects have been introduced. Last year alone, Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) announced that it was investing $300 million (Rwf259 billion) in the next three years to address the prevailing shortfall in water supply across the country.

The same year, the government sealed a deal with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) worth $20 million (about Rwf17 billion) for water provision and sanitation.

The story is the same for the previous years.

Yet, residents say they continue to experience water shut offs for large parts of the day, raising concerns over what the water utility authority is doing to bring lasting solutions.

Gadi Mutuyimana, a resident of Kimironko Sector, is one of the city dwellers who say their home has not had water for nearly 30 days.

“For the past one month, we have not had water and we don’t know why. The water authority kept promising us that we would get it but all in vain. We have resorted to buying water from trucks. A jelly-can costs between Rwf300 and Rwf350 depending on how scarce water is,” he said.

Mutuyimana says they have been buying 10 jelly-cans every after three days, and during the time of doing laundry, they have to buy 15.

Another resident of Nyakabanda cell, Niboye sector in Kicukiro district, said they have had a similar experience.

“Our taps had not had water for nearly two weeks until this week when we received it. But it was really expensive, especially for people who have families,” the resident who preferred to be quoted on condition of anonymity said.

These are not the only people who have faced issues of water shortages. On Facebook, Twitter and social media platforms, residents of Kanombe, Kabeza, Remera, Kinamba, Nyamirambo and Nyarutarama, among other areas, have reported disrupted water supply or unclear water rationing.

Methode Rutagungira, in charge of urban water and sanitation at WASAC, told The New Times that the concerns raised by city dwellers were genuine.

“This is caused by topography of our city, and it is not just in Kigali but it is the whole country. The people [located] at the highest point are more affected by non-availability of water supply,” he explained, adding that they, however, have plans and already implementation has started.

The AfDB loan which the government borrowed last year, Rutagungira noted, is meant to solve some of the existing problems including making new water extension lines, increasing storage capacity where needed and revamping existing old networks.

The official particularly indicated that they are trying to put up three water storage facilities in different areas of the city to respond to short-term water shortages that city dwellers are facing.

“We are putting up three big tanks in Kanombe area, another in Masaka and a very big 10,000m3 [water storage facility] in Remera (Rwahama) to supply Kimironko, Kibagabaga, Rukiri and Nyakabanda,” he said.

These are areas that face most intermittent water supply, although there are other parts of the city that experience the same.

Beyond this, he indicated that they have prioritised building forwarding infrastructure which means that about 10 new water supply networks of about 500 kilometres are being built across the city.

Solutions for long term challenges

Rutagungira highlighted that the government is currently constructing a water treatment plant along Akagera River to increase production to cover the country, part of the bigger plan to address long-term water shortages.

“Already the capacity of production we have would be enough if we had the network to accommodate that. But the demand is also increasing rapidly, that is why we went ahead to have a new treatment plant,” he explained.

According to WASAC, Kigali presently needs 130,000m3 every day. It is supplied by three plants, Nzove water treatment plant, which provides 80,000m3 every day, Kimisagara 25,000m3, and Karenge 15, 000m3 per day.

WASAC says it is also working with private developers and development organisations to make sure that water production and extension targets are meant.

“In rural areas, we already see many schemes by private developers and development organisations like World Vision coming up to provide water. We are focusing on urban areas, even though the mandate is to cover the entire country,” Rutagungira said.

Currently, of the country’s total water production of 300,000m3 per day, the private sector contributes 160,000m3.

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