Dry taps in Kigali linked to lack of storage facilities

Wednesday April 06 2022

Some estates in Kigali recently experienced water shortage. Photo: Cyril Ndegeya

By Ange Iliza

Lack of enough water harvesting and storage facilities is to be blamed for water scarcity in parts of Kigali City. A recent Environment and Outlook report by Rwanda Emergency Management Authority described Rwanda as a “water-scarce country” despite the government spending over Rwf50 billion out of the national budget on water infrastructure.

In mid-March, residents of some neighbourhoods in Kigali among them, Kicukiro, Kabeza and Kanombe, spent nearly three weeks without water in their taps. Usually, residents resort to public water taps in a similar cases, but were equally dry.

Lambert Mugabe, who lives in Kicukiro says he reached out to Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) multiple times to ask for help but to no avail Mr. Mugabe’s experience is shared by many Kigali residents, negates the country’s ambition to grant full access to clean water from the current 86 percent by 2024.

According to the annual Environment and Outlook report, Rwanda receives 27.5 billion cubic meters per year but the total renewable resources are only 6.8 billion cubic meters with a groundwater recharge of 4.5 billion cubic meters. This translates to a per capita freshwater availability of less than 1,000 cubic meters per year, making Rwanda “a water-scarce country”.

The report said there is an untapped water from groundwater sources that is estimated to be 401 million cubic meters, especially in rural areas. Groundwater in Rwanda mainly come from boreholes and springs, but the available data says the former is mainly available in Eastern Province.

According to Ministry of Infrastructure, as part of the Water for Growth programme, a groundwater monitoring network has been designed and its implementation is underway.


In an interview with Rwanda Today, Methode Rutagungira, head of water distribution unit at WASAC, it emerged that Kigali lacks sufficient underground water recovery and storage infrastructure. 

“Currently, we use dams to recover and store water. Construction works are ongoing at the Nyabarongo multipurpose dam, Akagera, and Rusumo dams. These will also help with water recovery and storage and electricity,” Mr Rutagungira explained.

Mr Rutagungira attributed recurring dray taps to technical challenges that water companies experience from time to time. However, he was quick to add that authorities are working sustainable ways to find lasting solutions.

During a Public Account Committee public hearing last September, Members of Parliament raised concerns that WASAC’s mismanagement would delay the 2024 National Strategy for Transformation plan.

The same concern was raised by the Auditor General’s report that Sustainable Development Goal number 6 about access to water and sanitation “will not be achieved” if the current trend continues. WASAC’s acting chief executive Giselle Umuhumuza told PAC at the time that the corporation is working to address financial management challenges.