Residents of Mudende Sector in Western Province’s Rubavu District have lauded a new water supply inaugurated last month as a positive boost to their social economic development.
Speaking to The New Times on Wednesday, some of them said their area has got clean water for the first time, putting an end to their ordinary habit of running distances to fetch water for use in their homes.
Theoneste Sebararizi, 65, a resident of Mirindi Cell, said that he had had a water burden since he was young up to his old age.
“I used to spend half a day looking for water. If I went to fetch water in the morning, I knew I could do nothing else that day. And that is what happened to all my neighbours,” he said.
The new water supply scheme will also benefit people in Ndoranyi Cell of Mudende Sector and a few areas in Nyabihu District such as Bugeshi, Nyundo, Kanzenze, Nyakiri and Kanama.
“We didn’t use to have clean water. We survived on rain water and when it was a sunny season we used to suffer a lot. What I can say is that everyone prayed to get water. Children have dropped out of school because they would go fetch water in the morning and miss classes,” said Immaculée Nyirasafari who lives in Ndoranyi.
Unlike in the past when residents used to travel about 10 kilometres on foot to fetch water, the new water supply is accessible at about three kilometres.
Most residents had made some arrangements to harvest rain water before the new water supply, but worries that their rain water was not clean enough and would cause diseases had remained at large.
According to Claudien Mutembe in charge of social affairs in Mudende Sector, the new water supply is a response for all the residents.
“We used to depend on the rain water which was hygienically poor. In summer the residents would descend in valleys to fetch water but now at least people have water even if the distance is still a bit long,” he said.
Officials say that the new water scheme will benefit about 15000 people out of 22,000 residents in need of clean water in Mudende Sector but it will provide 53,000 people with clean water in all the seven sectors that it covers.
The water supply scheme was built by combined efforts of many partners, including the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“Access to clean water is at the very core of human development, poverty eradication and environmental sustainability,” the Deputy Country Representative of UNICEF in Rwanda, Deguene Fall, said at the launch of the scheme.
The UN estimates that access to safe drinking water and sanitation provides the foundation for the fulfilment of basic human needs and contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Fall said that challenges remain in Rwanda where a quarter of the population remain without access to an improved drinking water source or adequate sanitation.