23 February 2018

Rwanda: Senators to Assess Citizens' Access to Water Countrywide

Members of the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance will next Tuesday start a tour of the country to assess the level of water access.

Under the government's seven year-plan, all Rwandans will have access to clean water by 2024, up from the country level of 84.8 per cent, according to the fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) published in September 2015.

The Director General of Water and Sanitation Corporation (Wasac), Aimé Muzola, told senators on the committee yesterday that the number of Rwandans who actually get water could be 60 per cent even if those who have access to water infrastructure is at the 84.8 per cent rate.

"A lot of efforts are still needed to achieve 100 per cent water coverage," he said.

Wasac officials told members of the parliamentary Committee on Budget and National Patrimony early this month that the body needs some Rwf13 billion to repair run-down rural water supply lines across the country.

Wasac's assessment in 2016 estimated that about 38 per cent of all the water lines in rural areas across the country were run-down and needed to be fixed, with the most affected water systems found 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 33.8 per cent, while in Eastern Province it stood at 29 per cent.

The senators will be in all the 30 districts across the country during the tour through which they hope to have a better understanding of the government's efforts to connect Rwandans to water and how the private sector is involved in the process.

"We mainly want to look at the achievement of our government in the water and sanitation sector and how members of the private sector can play a role in this area. We can't think of achieving our overall goal for national development without the involvement of the private sector," said Senator Chrsysologue Karangwa.

Senator Emmanuel Bajyana said that the senators will also look at how institutions such as Wasac and districts as well as the people work together to protect water supply infrastructure.

The State Minister for Energy, Water and Sanitation, Germaine Kamayirese, told the senators Thursday that challenges to connecting Rwandans to water include water lines that get destroyed at an early stage, scattered dwellings, and poor capacity with regards to planning for water systems.

She also said that not many private entrepreneurs venture into water business because water distribution is still considered a social enterprise with very little returns on investment.

"The water industry has a social aspect more than a business aspect and it's a challenge for the private sector to be involved," she said.

But she said that the government is doing a study on how to involve the private sector in the production of water, its distribution, and in the collection of money from water users.

She said that after completing the study they could find an area that through which the private sector to intervene.

"It will be one of the ways to boost the production and distribution of water to all Rwandans," she said of the study.

According to Jacqueline Muhongayire, who chairs the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance, the committee members and the Senate attach a great importance on the water sector and a deep analysis of the government's work in the area will be undertaken.

During their tour, the senators will also take time to meet with citizens to find out what they think about their water access and how to address challenges involved in the country's water supply systems.

The EICV4 survey has indicated that 84.8 per cent of Rwandans access potable water within 500 meters from their homes in rural areas and 200 meters in urban areas.

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