More than 1.3 million Rwandans will have full access to clean water and better sanitation services following the signing of a new financing deal yesterday.
The Government of Rwanda and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) signed the financing agreement worth $20 million (about Rwf17 billion) to support a water and sanitation project in the country.
The money is a connectional loan for 10 years but with five years of grace period, according to Claver Gatete, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
Speaking to The New Times after the signing ceremony in Kigali, yesterday, Minister Gatete noted: "The project will ensure equitable provision of adequate, reliable and sustainable water and sanitation services for the population in the target areas, thereby contributing to an improved quality of life."
Meanwhile, Germaine Kamayirese, the state minister for energy, water and sanitation, said the funds will specifically be used to support the rehabilitation, upgrading and extension of the water supply network in Kigali and itssuburban areas, including upgrading of Nzove water treatment plant.
"Part of it will also be injected into the construction and rehabilitation of Gihira II water treatment plant and rehabilitation and extension of water supply distribution networks in Musanze, Rubavu, Muhanga, Nyagatare, Huye and Rusizi districts," she said.
She added that the support will also help in focus on the rehabilitation and upgrading of semi-centralised sewerage systems in Kigali, and the construction of a centralised sewerage system for Kigali and installation of sewers in the existing buildings in targeted areas.
The project will be implemented by Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC).
The entire water and sanitation programme cost is estimated at $262.32 million with the African Development Bank (ADB) injecting in $171.14 million, a loan that was approved last year.
The European Investment Bank has so far contributed about $50 milion in addition to government's contribution of $20.68 million.
Access to clean water and sanitation services remains government's top priority and we shall continue working hard with all stakeholders to ensure 100 per cent access to clean water and sanitation services, said Minister Kamayirese.
Presently, about 85 per cent of Rwandans have access to clean water and government's goal is to achieve 100 per cent in the next two years (by 2020).
Why invest in clean water, sanitation services?
In 2004, the World Health Organisation found that investing $1 in water, sanitation and hygiene education would bring health and other benefits worth between $3 and $34, depending on the technology used.
Research done for the 2006 UN Human Development Report estimated that the total cost of the current deficit in investment in water and sanitation is $170 billion, which means 2.6 per cent of all developing countries' GDP.
While it is important to invest in water and sanitation services, it is equally imperative to ensure the sector is well regulated and monitored for desired benefits.
Government last year earmarked Rwf467.7 billion for water and sanitation under a new policy.
The total funding of water supply policy implementation strategy is about Rwf337 billion to be used between 2015/16 and 2020.
In sanitation, the Government plans to use over Rwf130.7 billion in infrastructure investments over a five-year period.
Meanwhile, the OFID, Director General Suleiman J Al- Herbish, said the Fund is committed to supporting projects geared at reducing poverty and promoting sustainable economic development in Rwanda.
So far, OFID has financed projects worth $182 million, including supporting different infrastructure projects, energy, transport and now water and sanitation.
In addition, the Fund is involved in private sector financing, where it has provided two different lines of credit worth $25 million to Bank of Kigali and more recently, $30 million towards the construction of Bugesera International Airport.