Rwanda will join the rest of the world in marking International World Water Day on the March 22.
The day will be celebrated under the theme ‘Nature for Water’ on the international level; whereas celebrations at the national level will be held in Rubavu district under the theme: “Twite ku mutungo kamere w’amazi tubungabunga ibidukikije.”
Celebrations will also be held with a focus on exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges faced in the 21st century.
About 85 per cent of Rwandans have access to clean water. Gisèle Umuhumuza Deputy CEO in Charge of Rural Water and Sanitation Services at Water and Sanitation Corporation says the water supply sector has been challenged by the important investment (finances) required to reach the aspired total access to drinking water and that this has affected the completion and development of drinking water supply projects.
“This year’s world water day theme calls for joint efforts by the various stakeholders in the sector (water sector) for better management of water resources and its uses especially as we thrive for a resilient climate and sustainable development,” she says.
“For Rwanda this is paramount if we are to achieve the 100% access to clean water and sanitation by 2024,” she adds.
The daily average water supply in all urban areas where WASAC operates is 135,000 m3 per day with an estimated demand of 279,457 m3 per day. This leaves a deficit, which results into adoption of rationing in critical areas (Kicukiro, Kanombe, Kimironko, Kibagabaga, Remera, Nyamirambo).
WASAC is implementing water production projects to address the supply gap (Upgrading Nzove, Kanzenze, Kanyonyomba, Gihira-Rubavu, and Rusizi water treatment plants), Umuhumuza notes.
She also says that they are conducting resource mobilization for the construction of new water treatment plants in other towns for example in Ngoma, Gicumbi, Muhanga, Huye and Karongi Districts.
“The Government of Rwanda continues to work with various International financial institutions to bridge the financing gaps within the sector. The government also continues to attract private investors, we recently signed an agreement where the financing and implementation of Kigali Bulk Water project (Kanzenze WTP) which will add 40,000 m3 of water per day in Kigali and Bugesera has begun.”
A program of Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation worth $282m which will improve water supply and sanitation in Kigali and six satellite cities (Muhanga, Rusizi, Rubavu, Musanze, Nyagatare, Huye Districts) in the coming four years is in the pipeline.
Umuhumuza also points out the issue of an old water supply network which threatens the efficiency of water supply; she however notes that the government has begun investing in rehabilitation and upgrading of the network to ensure efficiency.
There is an increasing concern about the effects of activities in water catchments, and water storage dams. These effects have been observed at Rugeramigozi, Kadahokwa and Shyogwe dams which were dry in the previous dry season.
Although the extended dry seasons and increasing water demand can be of impact on water dams, the change and uncontrolled land use in catchments leave the dams at risk too. Prolonged dry periods affect water dams.
The Deputy CEO explains that they have started the assessment of projects at a catchment level with large waters dams that will be able to sustain water supply during prolonged dry seasons; making sure management and development of water resources are integrated in all of their investments.
The deteriorating raw water quality in many rivers significantly affects the production efficiency of water treatment plants. This happens mostly during rainy seasons where treatment plants frequently halt operations when water consists of high turbidity (muddy water) which takes hours to treat. The main cause is poorly managed catchments and erosion.
The newly constructed Nzove water treatment plant is provided with a newly constructed intake which eliminates the extended periods of treating water with high turbidity.
The Government of Rwanda is implementing different programs for catchment management to mitigate erosion, development of land use plans; and sensitization of the population to use the land effectively with environmental friendly methods.