The Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) still needs Rwf13 billion to repair run-down rural water supply lines across the country, the body’s officials have said.
The utility’s Director General, Aimé Muzola, and its body’s deputy director general in charge of Rural Water and Sanitation Services, Gisele Umuhumuza, made the revelation yesterday while appearing before the parliamentary Committee on Budget and National Patrimony.
Members of the committee met the officials ahead of their trip upcountry to assess the ongoing implementation of plans laid out in the National Budget for the current fiscal year 2017/18.
Their trip is scheduled from February 4-19 and it will take them to 30 districts across the country where they will assess how districts are doing with the execution of their budgets and whether they have any specific challenges, especially regarding the implementation of development projects.
While WASAC’s budget for drinking water access in the current fiscal year is Rwf17.4 billion and will mainly be used to build new water supply lines, Umuhumuza expressed concerns that only about Rwf400 million of the money will be used in repairing dilapidated water lines across the country.
She said that efforts need to be made to raise funds needed to rehabilitate run-down water lines across the country because citizens who were connected to water should be able to use it.
“What we need is to increase the budget for this issue so that we can do something about it in the next fiscal year. Even if we don’t solve the problem in one year we can take two years to deal with it,” she said.
Umuhumuza said that WASAC will work closely with districts to put more efforts in the rehabilitation of water supply lines across the country and that the body has already informed partners like the Local Administrative Agency Entities Development Agency (LODA) that priority should be shifted to repairing dilapidated water lines.
“We have agreed with LODA that our priority next year should be on rehabilitation of old water lines,” she told the MPs.
An assessment carried out by WASAC about two years ago found that nearly 40 per cent of all rural water supply networks were dilapidated and needed to be repaired.
When officials at the body presented findings of their survey in March 2016 after identifying the run-down water supply lines across the country – about 38 per cent of all the lines – they estimated that it would cost Rwf13.5 billion to repair them.
The most affected water systems were in Northern Province, where at least 46 per cent of the systems were not functional.
In Western Province, 32 per cent of the water systems were not working, in Southern Province it was 33.8 per cent, while in Eastern Province it stood at 29 per cent.
Muzola told The New Times shortly after the meeting with MPs that the issue of dilapidated water lines across the country needs serious attention because it becomes a big disappointment when people who used to access water no longer have it.
“When someone was given water, it means that their life has been changed and when it goes off it becomes even more problematic than someone who doesn’t have access to tap water and uses other means to get water. It’s an issue that we need to make a priority,” he said in an interview.
The issue of dry water taps was also among the problems that the legislators raised with WASAC officials at yesterday’s meeting, with MP Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, the chairperson of the committee, asking the officials about different strategies they had devised to address the issue.
“Wherever we go we are told that water infrastructure is there but there is no water. How can we solve this problem?” MP Mukayuhi asked.
WASAC officials responded that a number of strategies are in place to improve water access, including plans to increase water volumes by processing more water, building new supply lines and repairing old ones, as well as building borehole water supply systems, among others.
Legislators on the committee on Budget and National Patrimony plan to conduct their assessments of budget execution ahead of the forthcoming budget revision when the government will table in Parliament its revisions for the 2017/18 budget.
Under the current National Budget, which is worth Rwf2.09 trillion, the government sought to significantly invest in infrastructure projects such as building roads and airports, rolling out electricity in more areas, providing more water resources in urban areas, and preparing more industrial parks upcountry.