Getting Started in Kigali

During the pre-fellowship period, I wanted to find out who are the key players in water and sanitation in Rwanda, with a special focus on Kigali. I wanted to get a better understanding of what has already been done, who has done it, how have been done and what were the challenges. Through this, I hope to get an overview of the current situation of water and sanitation in Rwanda.

According to the Rwandan national institute of statistics, Kigali is a home of approximately 1.5 million people living on 730 square kilometers. Kigali has experienced rapid urbanization in the last 10 years as  Kigali’s population has more than doubled from 705,000 in 2008. This means it has doubled in less than two decades. This rapid urbanization has increasingly become a big challenge for the Rwandan government and city planners. Rapid population growth, driven by urbanization over the past few years has pushed demand for water to as high as 138,142 cubic meters of water daily.  

The following is what I have found out during the past four weeks of my preparatory research:

  • According to the World Bank Report, Rwanda’s per capita water supply in 2007 was 1,002 cubic meters. But this reduced to 670 cubic meters in 2015 due to the rapid urbanization
  • Under clear political commitment to three complementary sets of targets: the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2012), Millennium Development Goals (2015), and Vision 2020. The Government of Rwanda has set the national target of achieving universal access to basic water and sanitation services by 2020.
  • Even though Water and Sanitation Corporation Ltd (WASAC) which is the Government agency in charge of water and sanitation is under the ministry of infrastructure, the provision of water and sanitation fall under different government ministries, the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) and Ministry of Natural Resources (MINIRENA).
  • The main challenge the Government is facing to achieve the national target is funding gaps for increasing access to WASH services, particularly in scattered settlements in difficult, hilly terrain.
  • The Government of Rwanda is investing into water and sanitation to increase the daily production of water in Kigali, the example is the NZOVE Plant project, the project would put the total water production for Kigali at 145,000 cubic meters daily from the current 90,000 cubic meters by the beginning of 2019.
  • The government has the obligation or the mandate to provide water and sanitation to the people but it is not the only actor in this service as it can’t meet all the needs of the residents. It has partnerships with non-governmental organizations including UNICEF, JICA, and Water for People, Water Aid and World Vision.
  • Government is spending 0.5% of GDP dedicated to sanitation and hygiene during the second phase of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS)which runs from 2013 to 2017.
  • In 2015 the Government of Rwanda committed to increasing the budget allocated to WASH by at least 18% every year until the end of 2018
  • There are very few Social Enterprises in the Sector of water and sanitation. Water Access Rwanda (WARwanda) is the only social enterprise in the sector of clean water. It uses manual drilling to drill shallow boreholes.

Before starting this preparatory research I didn’t really know who the main players in water and sanitation were in Rwanda. I wasn’t aware of how much is still have to be done so all the Rwandans would have access to water not only water but clean water.  I have learned from this research that the government of Rwanda wants to invest more into water and sanitation and make this issue its own by increasing the budget related to Water and sanitation so that by 2020 everyone would have access to clean water. Before this research I thought the government is not doing as much as possible to provide the portable water to the people but I have found out there is more projects that are going on throughout the country to increase the production of water in Urban and rural areas.

For the next stage of the fellowship, I am planning to meet with the organizations that are working to provide clean water and sanitation in Rwanda and in particularly in Kigali in order to understand what have been their challenges and how are they trying to face those challenges. I will also go to the communities and have speak  with the community leaders and the resident to learn what the challenges they are facing. I will also reach out to the other social enterprises that are not only working in water and sanitation but other fields that work with Kigali’s poor to learn from them what they have been facing and how do they see the social enterprise sector or business in Rwanda.

About the author:
Leandre Kibeho

Leandre Kibeho was born and raised in Rwanda. He has a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and is currently a master's student in Information and Communications Technology at Carnegie Mellon University. He is passionate about the development of Rwanda and believes that  creative entrepreneurship is the solution to the Rwanda’s development challenges.

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