Kigali’s old, leaking pipes hurting water access goals

Thursday November 14 2019


The Water and Sanitation Corporation has been replacing old, rusty pipes but faces challenges in locating the broken ones. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

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Broken old pipes and rusty water transmission infrastructure in Kigali are undermining Rwanda’s goals of achieving 100 per cent access to clean water and sanitation by 2024.

Currently, 62 per cent of the population has access to clean water and sanitation services.

In Kigali, residents experience dry taps for months, with technicians from the Water and Sanitation Corporation (Wasac), which is in charge of supply in urban centres, routinely blocking the flow in several locations where the utility detects broken pipes as repairs pend.

Wasac CEO Aime Muzola, said the water distributed is safe for drinking but gets contaminated along the way.

“We monitor the treated water from the plant to the end-user to ascertain that it reaches them safely, but in some instances, it gets contaminated along the way due to broken pipes,” he said during a “meet the press” session this past week.

According to Wasac, government has been replacing old and rusty pipes regularly, but locating the broken ones is difficult, which is slowing down efforts to boost access to clean water and sanitation.


Government is also building water extension lines, storage tanks and replacing old water supply networks in Kigali city and other urban areas, from a loan by the African Development Bank.

The new system is expected to be installed with scanners, which will detect water pressure and help Wasac establish the exact location of broken water pipes.

Among projects under construction is the Kanzenze water treatment plant, which is 67 per cent complete with target date of May 2020. It will boost water supply to residents of Kigali and Bugesera.

Other projects are the 10,000-m3 Remera water reservoir, which is 60 per cent complete, with a target date of May 2020; other projects to serve Kanombe and Kabeza are still under construction.

The government also plans replace the current meters with smart devices which will address challenges linked to billing that have led to wrong disconnections. The readings can be taken within a distance of 100 meters.

The Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey 2016-2017 showed that 87.4 per cent of Rwandans have access to clean water, having risen from 26.3 per cent in 1994. Those who have access to clean water in their own homes rose from 2.6 per cent to 9.4 per cent.

Households with access to sanitation services rose from 74.5 per cent in 2010 to 86.2 per cent this year.