Water treatment cost high as demand soars in urban centres

Friday July 18 2014

Nzove water treatment plant. Photo/Cyril Ndegeya

Limited investment in the treatment of water is affecting supply in urban centres leading to shortage, Rwanda Today has learnt. The effects of soil erosion on the hills has made water in the streams dirty and hence expensive to treat.

There has not been a single investment made in the upgrade of city water infrastructure for the past eight years, despite an urbanisation rate of at 16 per cent.

Water production has stagnated

The most recent investment in city water supply services was made between 2005 and 2006 during the upgrade of Nzove water treatment plant.

So, while the city’s population has grown to 1.1 million people, water production has for years stagnated at a paltry 70,000m3 per day against a target of 100,000m3, which translates to a short fall of 30,000m3, creating a need for rationing.

Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority is currently rationing water in Kigali city with some suburbs going for several days without the vital resource.


“We have plenty of water but it is expensive to treat due to silt from the hills. This terrain is unique to this region,” said James Sano, EWSA deputy director-general for water administration.

Also, officials point to increasing demand due to changing lifestyles as a result of improving incomes, which is increasing demand on the scarce resource.

Many Rwandans are buying cars and upgrading from pit latrines to washrooms that use piped water. Figures at EWSA show that carwashes consumed a quarter of the 20,000m3 of water that was produced in 2004. The increase in high-rise buildings has also increased demand for water.

Public-private partnership

“The city needs about 100,000m3 of water to handle the current demand,” said Mr Sano in an interview with Rwanda Today.

Meanwhile, EWSA is implementing a project that will see an additional 10,000m3 of water supplied to the city residents every day, which should reduce the stress on current production capacity.

Another 40,000m3 should be generated from the implementation of Kanzenze Bulk Water Project.

This is a public-private partnership through which EWSA will sign a water purchase agreement with an investor who shall construct a treatment plant and a forwarding infrastructure.
“We are opening bids for this project in mid-August,” said Mr Sano

In the long run, the government intends to get bulk water for urban centres through the Mutobo project.