24 August 2016

Rwanda: 4,000 Water Tanks Installed in Rainwater Harvest Drive

Photo: The New Times
Rainwater being harvested into a tank.

Over 4,000 water tanks were installed by the end of July in different districts across the country under the Rainwater Harvesting Project which aims to improve livelihoods and to reduce surface runoff-overflow which causes erosion.

The project prioritised high rain density areas, with a target of installing 10,000 water tanks by December.

The three-year project is being implemented by Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) since January 2014 in six districts namely Nyarugenge, Gasabo, Kicukiro, Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu.

According to Innocent Nizeyimana, the project manager, the project is worth over Rwf2.5 billion with the government subsidy amounting to Rwf952 million.

Those who benefit from the subsidy are Rwandans in the third and fourth Ubudehe Social Stratification, and the beneficiary has to own a house.

The project has three components namely; supporting households purchase rainwater tanks through a loan and subsidy system, constructing rainwater harvesting systems on selected public institutions and households' settlements, and supporting poor rural households construct artisan tanks by providing them with basic construction materials.

During an interview with The New Times on Monday, Nizeyimana said construction works for the rainwater harvesting systems in 70 public institutions and five grouped settlements is in final stages.

On why the project implementation seemed to move at a slow pace, he said: "It is demand-driven. We sensitise people and they request a tank when they need it. But, you might also sensitise some when it is not their priority," he said.

"We hope to reach the targeted number of people because we are considering extending the project elsewhere in the country."

He noted that in the Eastern Province, residents showed much interest.

"The residents face water shortages in the area but when it rains, rainwater goes to waste, yet, they will need the water the following day," he said, pointing out that the government's plan is to ensure that rainwater retention system is availed to all Rwandans.

RNRA started working with GT Bank in July 2015, but later signed a contract with 70 Umurenge Savings and Credit Cooperatives (USACCOs) to facilitate people's access to 'tank loans'.

For GT Bank, the loan interest rate was given at 10 per cent while each SACCO has its own interest rate, each at around 10 per cent.

The loan is repaid on a monthly basis over the course of one year.

The Vice Mayor for Social Affairs in Musanze District, Marie Claire Uwamariya, said working with one bank made some people wait for long to get tanks, which was discouraging.

But with Umurenge SACCOs, it was realised that more people had started to embrace the project as the SACCOs are close to people.

About 542 tanks were installed in Musanze District by end July.

"After easing the process of acquiring the tanks, the number of people who have embraced the project has increased," she noted.

The tanks varied in size and price.

A 5,000 litre tank costs between Rwf375,000 and Rwf389,000; a 3,500 litre tank goes for Rwf255,000 to Rwf270,000; that of 2,500 litres costs from Rwf175,000 to Rwf190,000 with that of 2,000 litres going for Rwf170,000 to Rwf185,000. These are prices before subsidy.

Uwamariya said the district intends to offer free tanks to needy households.

It is obvious that there are some vulnerable people who cannot afford the tank despite the subsidy, he said.

Under the project, Nizeyimana said, 4,000 vulnerable households in the three upcountry districts of Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu were each provided with one sheeting and five iron sheets to set up a water retaining structure.

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