Water Sector in Rwanda has been improving with over 84.9% of the population being able to access water in 2012. Rwanda’s water sector has experienced dramatic improvements in service, sustainability and coverage since sector reforms began in 2000. The government seeks to increase the rate of access to drinking water to 85% by 2015 and to 100% by 2020.
Main water users in Rwanda
- Households use small amounts of water and demand safe water for drinking and domestic purposes.
- Agriculture uses water from various sources that is rain, lakes, rivers and ground.
- There are plans to dam some of the waterfalls for purposes of generating hydropower. The amount of hydropower is limited by the availability of water sources for the purposes.
- Industry both requires water and produces industrial effluents which if not treated adequately, may seriously pollute receiving surface water making these unfit for other uses and impacting on the ecology.
- Mining is important as employer in the country and the sector uses water.
The Urban Sub Sector
Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWASA) produces water in the major urban areas. The utility is faced with the challenge of producing and distributing enough water to satisfy urban demand despite commercial and technical constraints and the increasing urban population.
The Rural Sub Sector
Rwanda’s rural water supply has faced challenges including top-down programming of investments, poor cost recovery, limited private sector participation and high per capita investment costs for system construction. Early attempts to introduce community participation and ownership of facilities failed in the absence of strong government commitment to decentralization.
Water sector in Rwanda is summarised as below;
Regulatory framework of the water sector
Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA)
The ministry is responsible for implementation of investment and labour intensive Water and Sanitation projects, funding sanitation projects, prepares and monitors, regulates water quality and hygiene standards, setting policies related to sanitation, water supply, infrastructure, urbanization and settlements, supports districts in the construction of water supply systems, latrines and hygiene promotion.
Ministry of Health (MINISANTE)
The ministry in responsible for controlling and monitoring activities of all the hospitals, health services in respecting regulations on hospital and hazards waste management and promote sanitation, healthy standards and regulations for water and sanitation.
Ministry of Environment and Lands (MINELA)
The ministry is plays the overall policy of water and Sanitation, mobilise funds for the Sanitation Sector, provides support to districts in the sector, organises activities of land as well as of water sector, planning of water and sanitation projects, funding of Water and Sanitation projects, using governments funds, but also bilateral and multilateral donors funds.
Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA)
REMA sets up environment standards and regulations, monitor and comply with environmental awareness, leading role in enforcement of environmental regulations and awareness promotion campaigns about domestic and industrial solid waste management.
Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA)
RURAA is responsible for ensuring that basic services including water and sanitation are provided according to the required standards and that there are good conditions for fair competition in provision of those public services.
Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA)
EWSA is responsible for urban sewerage systems and sludge emptying services, coordination of all activities related to the programmes aimed at development of water and sanitation.
Environmental Policy is the improvement of population’s well being, the judicious utilization of natural resources and the protection and rational management of ecosystems for a sustainable and fair development.
National Water and Sanitation Sector Policy
National Water and Sanitation Policy guides water and sanitation provision in the country. The policy proposes measures to achieve objectives of improving the living conditions of the population through optimal use of water resources and access of all to water and sanitation services.
National Water Resources Management Policy
The National Water Resources Management Policy aims at fair and sustainable access to water, improvement of the management of water resources through reforestation on hillsides and water catchments areas in Rwanda.
Challenges in Water Sector
The challenges include the following;
- In order for Rwanda to meet its food security needs requires a lot of water for irrigation and for use by the associated companies which is a challenge to the sector.
- The hilly terrain that needs expensive motorized water system has been as one of the challenges to water supply in some areas.
- Rwanda lacks reliable water resources data on quantity and quality that is required for long and medium-term planning.
- Lack of operation and maintenance of the hydro meteorological stations due to financial constraints.
- The impact of lack of hydrological data is that the implementation of the plans to manage the water resources in an equitable and rational manner.
- Poor sanitation, lack of urban and industrial waste water treatment, mining activities and intensive agriculture applying inorganic fertilizers and pesticides seriously pollute surface waters.
- Most towns have outdated water supply infrastructure.
- Rural water service has insufficient capacities to adequately manage rural water.
- The high prices of water.