A new report by international development charity, WaterAid, has recognised Rwanda as a regional and African leader in sanitation.
The report, "Keeping promises: why African leaders need now to deliver on their past water and sanitation commitments," indicates that Rwanda's post-Genocide reconstruction process included the construction of improved pit-latrines and housing funded by government, donors and non-governmental organisations. The report, released yesterday, indicates that 74.5 per cent of Rwandans have full access to proper sanitation.
It highlights that Rwanda has bucked the trend of many African countries in making real and sustained progress in increasing access to sanitation over the last decade-and-a-half.
"This had a significant impact on sanitation coverage, with almost 1.5 million people gaining access between 1995 and 2000. This bold, collective action has laid the groundwork for Rwanda's impressive sanitation progress, and serves as an example for governments and donors across the continent as to how well-planned, well-targeted investment can deliver results on the ground," reads the report authored by Joanna Esteves Mills and John Garrett from the UK Policy Team.
The report based its findings on the best performing African countries in sanitation, including Rwanda, Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda. It was produced by Development Finance International.
The findings were derived from the Third Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV3) from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), which indicates that nearly 1.4 million Rwandans, aged 16 and above, gained access to safe sanitation over the last five years, with levels of access increasing from 58.5 per cent in 2005/06, to 74.5 per cent in 2010/11.
The Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) Deputy Director-General in-charge of Water and Sanitation, James Sano, attributed Rwanda's success to government's commitment.
"There is much political will coming from the top leadership to ensure that the policies are well-implemented and rules and regulations are enforced," Sano said. "We have managed to institutionalise our traditional values through performance contracts, which ensures citizens participation and leadership engagement."
He said government is currently implementing a wider water and sanitation strategy.
The government has increased financial allocation to water and sanitation in the current financial year to Rwf23.2b from Rwf16.3b in 2011/12.
This implies that Rwanda succeeded in meeting its 2008 eThekwini African Union commitment to increase spending on sanitation and hygiene alone to 0.5 per cent of GDP which is equivalent to Rwf19.8 billion.
To date, Rwanda spends about 0.65 per cent of its GDP annually on water and sanitation.
The WaterAid report calls on donor governments, and African governments, to not only aim to meet the 2008 eThekwini spending commitments of 0.5 per cent of GDP, but to go further by aiming to spend at least 1 per cent of GDP on sanitation and hygiene, in line with the recommendations of a 2011 World Bank report.
World Bank figures show that poor sanitation access currently costs Rwanda Rwf32 billion each year in form of treatment and the like, 0.9 per cent of its GDP.
WaterAid's Country Representative, Nshuti Rugerinyange said, "Rwanda has made significant progress in increasing access to sanitation and WaterAid is proud to work alongside a government that has shown real political leadership in this area."
The WaterAid report calls on donor governments, the government of Rwanda, alongside other African governments, to not only aim to meet the 2008 eThekwini spending commitments of 0.5 per cent of GDP, but to go further by aiming to spend at least 1 per cent of GDP on sanitation and hygiene, in line with the recommendations of a 2011 World Bank report.