BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
Rwanda is set to achieve its ambitious targets for 100% coverage of water supply and sanitation for all by the year 2020. In 2008, on average 6.9 million (73%) of the total population had access to safe water supply and 4.3 million (45%) had access to basic sanitation.
Depending on an estimated population increase of 11.3 million people in 2015, therefore, to achieve the set MDG targets an additional 2.7 million Rwandan people would need to have access to water supply and 3 million additional people would also need basic sanitation.
Despite the fact that the country is making a steady progress towards achievement of 100% coverage aspiration by the year 2020, the country will need to marshal on average a minimum of about US$ 32-35 million annually both for rehabilitation and construction of new forms of infrastructure within water and sanitation.
Once this investment is available its impact would boost annual capacities to at least 6% increment in terms of access by the population.
Focus on EDPRS objectives
During the EDPRS period, the water and sanitation sector aims to increase the proportion of the population accessing safe water from 64% to 86%, and the proportion with sanitation services from 38% to 65%.
Sectoral plans are underway to increase the proportion of the rural population living within 500 metres of an improved water source from 64% to 85%, and to raise the proportion of the urban population residing within 200 metre of an improved water source from 69% to 100%.
Under this plan it is envisaged that the number of boreholes with hand pumps which will be constructed or rehabilitated will rise from 120 to 350.
As regards sanitation, the sector plans that the proportion of schools with latrines complying with basic health norms will rise from 10% to 80%, and that the corresponding proportion for rural households will increase from 38% to 65%.
A series of actions are planned to improve access to safe water for domestic use. These include developing guidelines for water and sanitation planning, as well as the design, construction, operation and maintenance for public and private utilities which will be operating within these two sectors.
Improving the environmental health and hygiene conditions of the population. This will be achieved by increasing access to potable water to prevent water-borne diseases, and through improvements in environmental sanitation.
Massive media and awareness campaigns will be launched to promote higher standards of personal hygiene. Safer methods of waste disposal will be promoted at community and health facilities.
In 2009-10 the ministry of infrastructure is committed to preparing nine district water supply master plans and construction of 490km and 980km of new and rehabilitated water supply systems respectively in within this period.
The government is also looking at constructing 100 sanitation facilities in public places including schools, by roadsides, in health centres, markets and five district headquarters in the northern, western and southern provinces.
Equally important, emphasis should be placed in covering rural communities and small centres if the government’s ambition of achieving MDG/ Vision 2020 targets is to be realized. This is where the majority of the population resides and where poverty is most intractable.
To achieve these targets, the key tenets of government intervention are decentralization and delegated management of rural water systems to local operators.
Therefore, the Government is committed to scaling up reforms through a decentralization process and has set clear objectives for the development of water supply and sanitation services in both rural and urban settings.
Objectives of water supply services
I). To ensure the sustainable access to safe water in line with the MDGs and Vision 2020 through the EDPRS.
II). To enhance living standards through: (a) convenient access to drinking water services of adequate quantity and quality and convenient access; and (b) improved hygienic sanitation.
III).To provide the water and sanitation sector and each sub-sector with a basis for effective planning and monitoring.
IV). To boost capacities to ensure the efficient management of a sustainable water and sanitation systems.
V). To ensure affordability through effective use, proper choice of service levels and appropriate technology choice.
Objectives for Sanitation programs
Significant progress has been made in crafting robust policies and national wide campaigns for the water supply which is not the case for sanitation contrary to Vision 2020 aspirations.
The aspirations are clear about the concerted need for all households to embrace the use of and practice of basic hygiene through use of acceptable sanitation systems.
Current statistics indicate that over 90 percent of Rwanda’s population is at daily risk of attracting faecal, oral disease and transmission largely due to poor sanitation systems. Poor personal and domestic hygiene is mainly responsible for about 80% of the disease burden in Rwanda today.
This situation has become totally unacceptable to the Government of Rwanda and it is determined to achieve 100% basic sanitation usage and system development within the shortest possible time.
Rwanda has placed hygiene, sanitation and environmental health on its development agenda. To this end, translating these commitments requires further elaboration of current policies on sanitation and in particular;
1). The government is committed to ensure that every household has access to appropriate sanitation in line with the objective of the MDGs with due consideration to sustainability and affordability.
2). The technology should be adapted to this context to develop systems for towns, growth centres, imidugudu, isolated rural household etc.
3). Households should be encouraged to improve and upgrade their sanitation facilities through promotion, hygiene education combined with the subsidized provision of key components targeting low-income and vulnerable households.
Policy development and institutional reform
The Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) has undertaken the updating of sectoral policy guidelines with the objective of having a more effective policy framework for the accelerated development and the sound management of water supply and sanitation services in line with the EDPRS, MDGs and Rwanda’s Vision 2020.
In this line a new institutional framework has been effected with sanitation services being transferred to MININFRA and water resource management remaining under the responsibility of MINENENA.
Furthermore, the recent establishment of an Energy and Water & Sanitation Board to oversee the development and the operations of these two sectors is part of the new policy drives.
The Board would have a single CEO and separate clusters with their own structures for Energy and for Water and Sanitation.
Under this framework, separate branches will be in charge of service provision and technical and commercial operations on the one hand, and of policy implementation, planning, M&E, R&D and capacity building on the other.
The service provision functions targeting primarily urban areas, i.e. the current service area of ELECTROGAZ, would operate on a commercial basis.
Rwanda has instituted a robust sectoral growth plan in the access to sanitation and water. There is a clear need to separate both sub sectors for the purposes of spuring the growth prospects of these two components to align these with the larger wishes of the country’s road map into the future.