Rwanda’s water utility firm has slowed down connecting new consumers to the piped water network as it struggles to cope with the effects of a long dry spell that has shrunk the volumes pumped.
Instead, the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) is opting for communal access points as an interim measure.
Daily volumes pumped over the past few weeks have gone down from 90,000 cubic metres to 86,000 cubic metres. Even before this, the city already had a deficit of 30,000 cubic metres against the projected daily demand of 120,000 cubic metres.
“The water table has dropped due to the current dry spell and so our production capacity has shrunk,” said Methode Rutagungira, the director for Urban Water and Sanitation Services at (WASAC).
Mr Rutagungira said daily production had varied between 85,000 cubic metres and 87,000 cubic metres since August 5.
The shortages have seen the price of water go up in some areas, with a 20-litre jerry can of water rising from Rwf50 ($0.06) to between Rwf200 ($0.24)and Rwf300 (0.36) in Bumbogo sector of Gasabo district. That is almost as much as WASAC charges for fifty 20-litre jerry cans.
Besides the financial cost, consumers are spending a lot of time getting water. Fabiola Ishimwe, from Kayumbu cell of Bumbogo spends three hours every day getting water for her home from the nearest communal tap.
“Since mid-May, I spend more than three hours every day in a queue at my nearest water kiosk, which is a five-minute walk from my house or else I would pay Rwf200 to get a 20-liter jerry can,” Ms Ishimwe told Rwanda Today.
Mr Rutagungira said water supplies to some areas of the city had also been disrupted as a result of lower production volumes and construction activities whose demands are high.
Contractors tend to concentrate their activities around the dry months of the year because that is when they achieve the highest productivity gains due to less weather disruptions.
For instance, ongoing expansion works on the Nyabugogo and Remera roads have resulted in frequent ruptures of water lines that supply Muhima.
According to WASAC officials, supply woes in Kigali are expected to ease next month after ongoing works to add another 65,000 cubic metres to daily supply are completed.