Rwanda: World Vision Celebrates Reaching One Million People With Clean Water in Rwanda
World Vision (WV), a global Christian humanitarian organization focused on tackling the causes of poverty and injustice, celebrated on Tuesday, May 9, reaching over one million people with clean water in Rwanda.
In 2018, former West Virginia U.S. President Richard Stearns committed to raising resources to reach out to one million people with clean water in the sectors where World Vision Rwanda operates.
From this commitment, WV US has succeeded in raising funds from private donors to increase WV Rwanda’s funding to implement the target of reaching one million people with clean water, significantly contributing to the government’s ambitious plan of bringing clean water to all citizens by 2024.
WV signed partnership agreements with 15 districts to share the cost of new water systems, with district administrations covering 40 per cent of the expenses and World Vision Rwanda covering 60 per cent.
Since 2018, in the 39 sectors where WV Rwanda operates, over 970,396 people have gained access to clean drinking water, 773,839 have gained access to household sanitation facilities, and 1,425,642 have gotten access to household hand-washing facilities.
In addition, 255 schools gained access to clean water, 108 were equipped with safe sanitation facilities, 92 schools had girls’ rooms constructed for them, and 42 health facilities gained access to clean water.
The construction and rehabilitation of water supply systems have been implemented with approximately $30 million from World Vision and $16.8 million from the Government of Rwanda.
In a media interview, Pauline Okumu, the National Director of WV Rwanda, talked about the importance of clean water in improving the lives of people, particularly children.
“We know that children are some of the people that are most affected by a lack of clean water. We are aware that after improving access to water in these places, the wellbeing of children is being taken care of, not only at home but even at school,” she said.
“The children can now use the time they were spending fetching water to focus on their studies.”
Also, in terms of health, there will be a reduction in diseases like diarrhoea, she added.
Aaron Dusabe, the Head of Muhondo Health Centre, testifies that there has been a reduction in cases of hygiene-related diseases reported to the hospital after water was introduced to the area.
“We used to receive many patients complaining of hygiene-related diseases, but such cases have reduced,” he noted.
Through WV’s partnership with the government, the health centre itself had toilets constructed, as well as water points where patients can get water for use, in addition to hand-washing areas and a water tank.
In general, Rwanda has seen substantial improvements in households’, schools’, and healthcare facilities’ access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as capacity-building of local governments and careful consideration of the long-term environmental sustainability and resilience of water systems.
Emmanuel Nzabonimpa, the mayor of Gicumbi, a district in which World Vision supported the construction of a supply network that provides clean water to over 14,000 people, said that three sectors of his district – Kageyo, Nyankenke, and Rutare, now have universal clean water coverage.
“In these sectors, people have access to clean water within 500 meters of their homes. Water used to be a big problem in the district; citizens used to have to walk long distances to get water. Some would walk for an hour or even more,” he said.
Schools and churches have been key beneficiaries of WV’s clean water and capacity-building projects. For example, Groupe Scolaire Muhondo, a school in the Kageyo sector of Gicumbi district, was not only connected to the water grid, but also had key facilities constructed including a basketball court, a handball playground, three classrooms, 12 washrooms, a laboratory, and a menstrual hygiene room for girls.
Vestine, a senior six student who is one of the girls that use the menstrual hygiene room had good things to say about its importance in their school life.
“Sometimes girls come to school not expecting to have their period that particular day, only to be surprised by its occurrence. In such instances, this menstrual hygiene room is so important because you can come here, get sanitary pads, take a shower, or even change clothes in case the ones you were wearing get dirty. You can also rest for a while in case you have abdominal pain,” she said.
The Executive Secretary of the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), Claudine Nyinawagaga, referred to World Vision (WV) as a “great partner” who, among other things, has ensured that the government’s development targets for improving citizens’ welfare are achieved in a faster manner.
The government of Rwanda has prioritised achieving universal water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) coverage as a critical enabler of improved nutrition, good health, and economic growth in the country.
To contribute to this milestone, WV Rwanda constructed and rehabilitated 110 gravity-fed spring systems, almost exclusively (as per country standards due to the geographical terrain), with 22 additional water systems, totalling approximately 2,257.9 km in length.
WV USA President and CEO Edgar Sandoval expressed great admiration in an interview with the media for what has been achieved through WV’s partnership with the local community and the government of Rwanda.
“I have been delighted and very impressed with the work that World Vision is doing in partnership with the local community and the government of Rwanda. We are thrilled that through this partnership we have been able to bring clean water to over a million people,” he noted.
In a speech he made during an event organised in Gicumbi District to celebrate the milestone, Sandoval pledged to continue supporting the local communities with clean water “until the only burden children have to carry is books.”