Rwanda on course to achieve universal access to water by 2017

Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi speaks to lawmakers as deputy president of the Senate Jeanne d'Arc Gakuba looks on.

Rwanda is on course to achieve universal access to water by the end of next year and the government will make heavy investments in water processing and supply within the next few months to achieve that target, the Prime Minister has said.

Anastase Murekezi, was speaking in Parliament yesterday as he presented the government’s work in the area of water and sanitation.

The government says it wants to increase households’ access to clean water countrywide from 74.2 per cent in 2010 to 100 per cent in 2017.

While the fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) published in September last year has indicated that 84.8 per cent of Rwandans access potable water, the premier said that the remaining steps towards universal access will be realised by the end of next year.

Children fetch water from a pipe in Kimisagara, Nyarugenge District. Timothy Kisambira.

“The 100 per cent target by 2017 hasn’t changed. We have to move faster to achieve it,’’ he said.

To achieve the goal, the premier said heavy investments will be made in the construction of water processing plants in different areas across the country while new water supply systems will be built and old ones refurbished.

“Using the increasingly available means, the government is working on many projects to provide water in rural areas, especially in districts with the most notable water shortages,” he said, citing Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Bugesera, Kamonyi, Ruhango, Nyanza, Gisagara, Nyaruguru, Rusizi, Rutsiro, Gakenke, Ngororero and Gicumbi districts.

Among the big projects that the government will undertake before the end of the fiscal year 2016-2017 include the optimisation of Nzove II water processing plant in Kigali so it can produce 40,000 cubic metres per day instead of the current 25,000 cubic metres. The new Nzove I water processing plant will also be built with the capacity to produce 40,000 cubic metres per day.

In regional cities of Nyagatare, Kayonza and Nyanza, the government plans to build three water processing plants with each plant producing 10,000 cubic metres per day.

The government also plans to train private water supply companies across the country to help fast-track reliable access to clean water in the country side. There are currently 39 licensed companies, in the area of water processing and provision.

But legislators told the premier that the main challenge in the entire country at the moment remains expensive access to water whereby the private companies licensed to manage water fountains charge a lot of money.

“High water prices have a direct consequence on people’s access to potable water. Some people resort to using dirty water because they can’t afford available potable water in their neighbourhoods. Prices for water should be reduced,” said MP Désiré Nyandwi.

MP Evariste Kalisa agreed, saying that it beats understanding how “water becomes more expensive in rural areas than in urban areas”.

The premier promised MPs that the government will move swiftly to address the issue, hinting that the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) will be put to task to handle the problem.

“In November or December this year, water prices will be made known across the country and we will ensure that they are respected,” he said.

The legislators also urged the government to sensitise citizens on better management of resources such as rain waters, and rivers and lakes.

“We need a clear policy on how to manage our water. In the future when we get heavy rains we need to have clear plans on how to retain that water and to use it,” said MP Christine Muhongayire.

The PM’s address to Parliament yesterday was in line with a constitutional requirement of informing the bi-cameral Parliament about government activities at least once during the House’s ordinary session.

SOURCE: The New Times

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