Fund gaps block water access

Monday January 7 2019


The target to improve access to clean water is under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

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Challenges to do with low funding for the water and sanitation subsector could hinder the country’s plan to deliver universal access to clean water in the next three years.

Sector players are concerned that the government, which missed the 2018 target, could still not meet the 2021 goal if funds to the sector are not boosted.

The funds would support operations and functions of water supply systems across the country, alongside construction of new systems or boreholes in remote areas.

The target to increase clean water access under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) was not met mainly due to insufficient investment in extending or even maintaining the supply facilities, which saw operators across the country unable to meet growing demand for water.

While officials from the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) say that the target will be achieved thanks to increased budgetary allocation together with funding from partners, analysts still predict a huge funding shortfall.

A 2018/2019 joint water sector review report shows that even after budget allocation in the water sector in the 2018/2019 year was increased by 48.7 per cent compared with the 2017/2018 allocation, the investment was still far from meeting the annual costs needed to reach the target by 2024.

Figures show that at least Rwf165.9 billion was needed in the 2018/2019 fiscal year if the country is to deliver universal access to clean water in three years.

The sector only got Rwf49 billion from a combination of government money and external funding.

“We are exploring other ways of getting required funding through partners and other stakeholders,” Aime Muzora, Wasac chief executive officer told Rwanda Today.

Budget projections for the next three years show the water and sanitation subsector have been allocated Rwf49 billion in the current fiscal year; Rwf46 billion in the next fiscal year, and Rwf51 billion in the 2020/2021 fiscal year.

The government’s water-for-all pledge by 2021 is pegged on planned investments in existing water supply systems as well as establishing new water plants.

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente recently told parliament that water supplied to households would reach 303,120 cubic metres daily by 2021. Current capacity is at 187,293 cubic metres daily and is way below the total demand for Kigali and secondary cities which has increased to 290,038 cubic metres daily.

However, operators said the planned investments could be of little help to water woes in 2019 as completion time for majority of projects is 2021.