Today is World Water Day. There are currently over 663 million people in the world living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030.
In Rwanda, UK Aid is making a significant contribution to providing access to safe water, through our partners WaterAid and Oxfam.
Mahama refugee camp hosts over 80,000 refugees from Burundi. Under international humanitarian standards, refugees should have access to at least 20 litres of water per day per person, in order for refugees to enjoy satisfactory conditions of health, sanitation and hygiene.
Instead of transporting water to the camp with trucks – which is very expensive – UK Aid contributed over Rwf 600 million for the construction of a Permanent Water Treatment Plant in the camp, which was led by Oxfam and inaugurated by Mukantabana Seraphine, Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, in November 2016.
The water treatment system will guarantee 20 litres of water per day per person, not only for Mahama’s refugees but also for the neighbouring community. Access to clean water will also have a very important impact on many vital sectors in the camp and around it, including nutrition, health, education and sanitation.
UK Aid is also funding WaterAid’s ‘Deliver Life Project’ in Bugesera District with over Rwf 748 million. The project aims at improving access to, and use of, sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services in communities and health facilities for over 56,064 marginalized people in the District.
Rweru Sector is the most water stressed community in Bugesera and one of the most remote areas of the country. Through the ‘Deliver Life Project’, DFID is supporting the construction of an 8 kilometre water piping system which will improve the lives of more than 6,000 people in Rweru Sector. It will pump water from 2 boreholes at a rate of 3.4 litres per second, and supply the local population, schools and health centres with a reliable source of water.
On Thursday 16 March, to celebrate World Water Day, WaterAid led a ‘Walk for Water’ that involved community members, leaders, and delegates from the Ministry of Infrastructure as a reminder of the long distances that people have to walk looking for water. They also led a community awareness session on the theme of the year – ‘water and wastewater’ – and visited the Rweru Sector piping system.