By Martin Tindiwensi, WV Rwanda Communications
Although Rwanda has achieved a lot towards improving water supply and sanitation systems, access to adequate basic sanitation remains low at less than 60%, in some of the rural areas.
Water supply and sanitation in Rwanda is however characterized by a rapid increase in access over the past years, aided by a clear government policy and significant donor support.
In response to poor sustainability of rural water systems and poor service quality in some of the Rwandan Rural areas, World Vision Rwanda on July 10, 2012 officially launched its 20 million USD Water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program. The same day, a 17 km water pipeline constructed by World Vision in partnership with KOICA was also inaugurated.
The event brought together the Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure Albert Nsengiyumva, The Governor of the Western Province Celestin Kabahizi, Karongi District Mayor Bernard Kayumba, sector leaders, KOICA Country Representative, representatives from government and non-profit organization, Karongi District police and army commanders and thousands of residents of Rubengera sector.
Residents celebrated the launch through traditional songs and dances and shared water sanitation and hygiene messages through songs, and drama.
Beneficiaries expressed gratitude to World Vision for bringing safe water near them, which will save many from traveling long distances to fetch unsafe swampy water.
“This is like a dream coming true. We have been travelling over 5 kilometers to fetch unsafe water from swamps. We thank World Vision for bringing clean water in our villages. Sometimes children would miss school due to the fact that they had to travel long distances every morning to fetch water.” said Esther Mukankubana a 31 year old mother from Gacaca village, Rubengera sector.
Ubuzima WASH program is a five year project funded by World Vision, which started in 2011 and will cover 9 districts which are, Karongi, Gicumbi, Gakenke, Nyamagabe, Huye, Nyaruguru, Gatsibo, Kayonza and Bugesera.
Ubuzima WASH program is expected to increase access to safe water to more than 215,000 residents in nine districts, and over 460,000 people will benefit from improved sanitation and hygiene, thus significantly reducing water related diseases. This will give children and members of their communities an opportunity to enjoy good health.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, World Vision Rwanda National Director, George Gitau, said that the initiative is in line with World Vision’s efforts to partner with the Rwandan government towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by providing safe water to all.
He shared the main goal of Ubuzima WASH program, which he said is to significantly reduce the under five mortality rate by ensuring 95% access to safe water supply, 80% access to improved sanitation and 80% good hygiene practices in areas covered by World Vision Rwanda.
“Through Ubuzima WASH program, we will contribute to achieving the fourth goal of the Millennium Development Goals; which is about reducing child mortality rates,” pointed out Gitau.
While Mukura-Rubengera water pipeline supplies safe water to 3070 in total, it is expected that the next phase of the project, to be completed by next year, will serve around 15,000 people.
The Minister of Infrastructure Albert Nsengiyumva who was the guest of honor acknowledged World Vision’s involvement in community water supply through the WASH program and the construction of Mukura-Rubengera water supply system, which he said was a big contribution towards the government’s effort to achieve its Vision 2020.
He called on other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to embrace the commitment by setting up such infrastructure – a responsibility, he said, that has been almost only held by the government for a long time.
He said that the government is working with other development partners to increase access to safe water from 71% today to 100% by 2017.