Africa: Rwanda to Benefit From U.S.$62 Billion Fund to Address Water Challenges in African Cities

Rwanda is set to benefit from the African Cities Water Adaptation (ACWA) Fund that is set to mobilise $62 billion so as to address water issues and build climate resilience as a way of ensuring sustainable urbanisation in African cities.

The revelation was made by Merard Mpabwanamaguru, the Vice Mayor of the City of Kigali in charge of Urbanisation and Infrastructure during CHOGM's side event on sustainable urbanisation on June 21.

The six African cities to initially benefit from the fund include Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, Kigali in Rwanda , Musanze in Rwanda, Johannesburg in South Africa as well as Gqeberha, South Africa.

The funds will be accessed through an urban water resilience project designed by Water Resources Institute, he said.

Building water resilience, experts say, is key in addressing the local water challenges and ensuring safe, secure, affordable, reliable and inclusive water and sanitation services for all.

It is also important for protecting the infrastructure and communities from any water-related risks.

To achieve this, decision-makers and other stakeholders must have the knowledge and ability to make better decisions and investments in their city's water sector, according to the project developers.

"After research on water resilience, we have to design action plans so as to be able to address water challenges revealed by the research. The fund will support the implementation of the launched urban water resilience action plans in Musanze and Kigali cities," he said.

The initiative requires enhancing awareness and understanding of urban planning, water resources management, governance, finance, and infrastructure design, with a focus on resilience for vulnerable populations.

"We need to ensure better management and use of water resources in different sectors such as construction, agriculture, livestock, and forest management among others, to better manage water resources. We need to manage stormwater management that includes building and making use of drainage water. This will also help to cope with floods," he said.

He said that Rwanda will design a check-list to know how much Rwanda needs from the fund.

During CHOGM, urban planners from Rwanda will also join other urban planners' associations in Commonwealth countries.

50 % of population to live in urban areas by 2035

Ernest Nsabimana, The Minister for Infrastructure in Rwanda said that with nearly 50 percent of the projected increase in the world's urban population by 2050 expected to be in the Commonwealth countries, this is a more important time for members of the Commonwealth to come together to tackle challenges of climate change and rapid urbanisation.

For Rwanda, he noted, under the National Strategy for Transformation, Rwanda targets to accelerate urbanisation to reach the urban rate of 35 per cent by 2024 from 18.4 per cent in 2017.

The country has also an ambitious plan of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2035 with 50 percent of its population living in urban areas and subsequently a high-income country by 2050 with 70 percent urbanisation then.

"We need to establish financing and supply options for affordable housing and related services, such as education and health, to address the needs of low-income earners," he said.

He explained that inclusive urbanisation can help reduce poverty adding, "Governments need to always improve on the decentralisation system within which citizens participate in the decision-making process."

Call for reducing greenhouse gases in cities

Nsabimana said that Rwanda has emphasised on tackling the main sources of Green House Gas emissions attributable to cities namely energy, transport, building sectors among others.

"These will respectively be addressed through various mechanisms that include but not limited to: enforcement of Green Building Minimum Compliance requirements; promotion of denser mixed use and socially inclusive urban developments; facilitating the transition from fuel-reliant urban transport to electric mobility; mass rapid transport, cycling and pedestrianisation, among others," he said.

With 70 percent of global carbon emissions attributable to cities and Commonwealth countries forecast to account for nearly 50 percent of the growth in cities by 2050, urbanisation is a defining issue for Commonwealth leaders, experts said.

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