Local govt officials giving false data on access to clean water

Thursday May 10 2018

Residents fetching water in Rwanda

Local govt officials are accused of giving incorrect figures about the number of residents with access to clean, drinking water. PHOTO | Cyril NDEGEYA 

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Local government officials have been put on the spot for inflating the number of people accessing clean drinking water to get better ratings during their performance contract assessment.

According to parliamentarians currently on a countrywide tour, despite different official reports showing a positive trend in both water production and connection of new homes with water pipes, thousands of people still don’t have access to clean water.

This is in addition to limited supply and some residents having to walk long distances to access water.

“Local government officials blame lack of access to clean, drinking water on poor settlements, but even the areas with proper settlements are not getting water.

They report those connected to water pipes as having water, but this is not true,” said Chryisologue Karangwa, a member of the committee on economic development and finance in the Senate. 

False reports

With a population increase, water needs become more crucial and sustainable use of the precious resource requires a proper management both at the supply and demand levels.

However, parliamentarians accused local government officials of missing the purpose of their reports.

“We are working on the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals, under which we could realise presidential pledges that show that people have water in their homes and not from commune taps,” said Evariste Bizimana, a member of Senate committee.

“Only 39 per cent of residents in Kicukiro district have access to clean water against the reported 63 per cent,” he said.

A visit by Rwanda Today to Murinja and Kagasa Cells in Gahanga sector, Kicukiro district, found many people walking long distances in search of water at kiosks while others rely on a stream from the Akagera River.

“Water scarcity normally gets worse during the sunny period,” said Alice Mutuyimana, a resident of Gahanga sector.

The area is in Kigali yet residents lack access to clean, drinking water, which results in poor hygiene.

“We used to have a communal water tap at the shopping centre, but it has been shut off and we have not been told the reason why,” said Jean Baptiste Munyandekwe, who lives in Kagasa village in Gahanga sector.

Price increment

This has resulted in the price of water in Gahanga sector increasing from Rwf323 per cubic meter set by Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority to almost Rwf1,000.

District officials blamed the water scarcity on rapid population growth and inadequate investment in infrastructure for water storage, conservation and sustainable access.

Officials from the Water and Sanitation Corporation (Wasac) blame the situation on the limited capacity of decades-old water supply systems, many of which are too old to spur production.

According to Wasac, current water production capacity stands at about 80,000 cubic meters, but the capacity of installed pipe connections stands at 45,000 cubic meters.

Officials also told Rwanda Today that Nzove water plant — the main water supply in Kigali city — is operating under its production capacity due to a power deficit.