The ministry of Infrastructure has unveiled new initiatives aimed at improving water and sanitation sectors.
The ‘National Water Policy and Strategy’, and the ‘National Sanitation Services Policy and Strategy’ were launched in Kigali on Wednesday, as part of events marking the Intenational Water Day.
The policies and strategies were approved by Cabinet in December, last year, with the aim to ensure sustainable, equitable, reliable and affordable access to water and sanitation services to all Rwandans, according to the ministry.
Speaking at the launch, Germaine Kamayirese, the state minister in charge of energy and water, said that these policies and strategies are in line with Rwanda’s goals under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2).
“These policies and strategies were formulated to respond to the key emerging issues, including the need to achieve the EDPRS II and Vision 2020 targets of universal access to clean water and sanitation services, as well to align and work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” she said.
Ted Maly, a UNICEF representative at the event, noted that the launch marks a major milestone in scaling up access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in Rwanda.
“I am pleased the government gives a very high priority to this sector. The new policies and strategies are a strong testimony to their commitment. They emphasise equity, sustainability, sector coordination, and capacity building,” he said.
Maly also said UNICEF had been associated with the development of these policies and that they remain committed to support their implementation.
The new policies and strategies present an analysis of the major sector challenges for urban and rural areas. They also provide direction for addressing these challenges, as well the implementation strategies, roles and responsibilities, financial requirements, targets and monitoring mechanisms, to name a few.
Speaking on behalf of development partners, Tomonori Nagase said these policies will not only help the country to achieve its goals, but also the global agenda, SDGs. He also called for partnerships to achieve their implementation.
“I would like to call for enhanced cross-sectoral partnership to solve sanitation and water challenges. I believe the new policies and strategies are a roadmap and its implementation guides us to achieve this,” said Nagase, senior representative of JICA.
UNICEF estimates that one in four children will live in areas with extremely limited water by 2040. About 12 per cent of the world population lacks clean drinking water, while water-related diseases account for 3.5 million deaths each year, more than car accidents and AIDS combined, according to the World Water Council.
In Africa, 319 million people, representing 32 per cent of sub-Saharan Africans, don’t have safe drinking water.
In Rwanda, 85 per cent of the population have access to improved water supply, according to the 2013/14 Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey. The survey indicated that some 83 per cent Rwandans had access to improved sanitation.
The government intends to achieve 100 per cent coverage by 2020.