- The Kigali Bulk Water Supply Project will be AfDB’s first private sector operation in landlocked Rwanda.
- The initiative covers the installation of a new water treatment plant, the building new wells and rehabilitating existing ones.
- It is also providing pipelines, storage reservoirs, pumping stations and water points in various parts of Kigali city.
The African Development Bank (AfDB)-backed water distribution project in Kigali, Rwanda, will benefit about 500,000 people. Rwanda, along with various development partners and agencies, has prioritised investments in water infrastructure and implemented reforms to enhance access to safe and reliable water sources.
Currently, water supply in Kigali is managed by the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC). The entity is a public utility responsible for water production, treatment, and distribution. WASAC has been working to expand and upgrade the water supply infrastructure to meet the growing demand in the city.
Kigali yet to offer universal water access
Kigali has several water treatment plants that purify water from various sources such as rivers, lakes, and underground aquifers. WASAC has been working on improving the water distribution network in Kigali to ensure reliable and efficient water supply. Despite the current efforts, challenges remain in ensuring universal access to safe and reliable water supply in Kigali.
Take Esther Mukantwali’s experience for instance. She lives in Rwangara Village, Bugesera District, about 18km south of Kigali city. Esther used to wake up at 3am to walk for an hour to fetch water from a swamp. Esther’s story mirrors that of 18-year-old Umuhoza Francine, who lives four kilometers further in Nyagatovu village, also in Bugesera District. She trekked for over two hours to get to her village’s water point. That meant she often got to school late and exhausted.
AfDB-backed water project a game changer
“It got worse during the dry season because the swamp would dry up, forcing us to walk even further, up to three hours, to get to the next water source,” she said.
The story is, however, set to change. Mukantwali and Francine’s lives have been transformed thanks to an AfDB-funded public-private water project that is bringing clean water to as close as five minutes walk from their homes.
“I no longer wake up at 3am in search of water. I get enough sleep knowing I can access clean water at my doorstep,” said Mukantwali. She added: “I have enough time to spare for income generation activities.” Francine on the other hand, not only walks less than five minutes to the water tap, but she also now gets to school on time.
Mukantwali, Francine, and other residents of their villages pay a small fee weekly of about 300 Rwandan Francs (37 US cents) for facility maintenance. The manager of the water point in Rwangara village, Esperance Mukandenezo, says the facility has improved sanitation in the area.
AfDB’s first private sector deal in Rwanda
“We used to have many cases of waterborne diseases because the water sources then were contaminated,” she said. “Now, the situation has greatly improved, thanks to the Kigali Bulk Water Supply Project.”
The Kigali Bulk Water Supply Project was the AfDB’s first private sector operation in Rwanda. The project, which was completed in 2021, covered the installation of a new water treatment plant, building new wells and rehabilitating existing ones. It also provided pipelines, storage reservoirs, pumping stations and water points in various parts of Kigali.
Producing 40,000 cubic meters of water daily, the project has increased access and improved water services for around 500,000 people in Kigali and surrounding areas.
It also serves as the country’s largest industrial zone, the Kigali Prime Economic Zone, located in Masoro, Gasabo District. Previously, WASAC could only produce 109,500m³ against Kigali’s demand of 150,000m³ to 200,000m³ daily.
According to Speciose Nyirabahire, WASAC’s monitoring and evaluation specialist, Bugesera District has about 68 water points.
Improving sanitation in schools
“Now girls are no longer dropping out of school because of domestic chores. Given that water is close to their homes, they have ample time to study, and they are also performing well in school,” she said.
Sanitation in schools has also improved because apart from enhancing water supply, the project provided ablution blocks in the learning institutions,” said Nyirabahire.
The Kigali Bulk Water Supply Project is contributing to the government’s agenda of achieving universal access to water.
The AfDB’s Country Manager for Rwanda, Aissa Toure Sarr, said: “The bank is pleased to partner with the government to help it achieve its goal of social transformation and water access to the population.”
Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation 2017-2024 seeks to scale up access to water to 100 percent by 2024. Currently, the country estimates water access at 86 percent. With latest support from AfDB, Rwanda appears on course to achieving that goal.