WaterAid –international development charity, 2013 report has recognised Rwanda as a regional and African leader in providing access to safe sanitation but also warns the country on the risk in sanitation progress without increased finance.
According to the Third Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV3) from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) nearly 1.4 million Rwandans aged 16 and over gained access to safe sanitation over the last 5 years, with levels of access increasing from 58.5% in 2005/06 to 74.5% in 2010/11.
The Keeping promises- why African leaders need now to deliver on their past water and sanitation commitments report highlights that Rwanda has bucked the trend of many African countries in making real and sustained progress in increasing access to sanitation over the last decade and a half.
UNICEF and WHO’s Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) put Rwanda’s 2010 figure for sanitation access at 55%. Discrepancies in these and the NISR figures are largely due to differences in the way the bodies define ‘improved sanitation’ and variations in methodology.
WaterAid has also warned that this progress could be undermined if commitments on spending are not delivered.
Nevertheless, the JMP figures also show a substantial increase in Rwanda’s access to sanitation rising by 14 percentage points since 1995.
The WaterAid Rwanda’s Team Leader Nshuti Rugerinyange, said Rwanda has made historic progress in increasing access to sanitation and WaterAid is proud to work alongside a Government that has shown real political leadership in this area. While we are 100% behind the Government’s drive to reach every Rwandan with safe sanitation by 2017, we feel that spending commitments, particularly, the 2008 eThekwini target of spending 0.5% on sanitation is a crucial milestone if we are to meet the goal of universal access.
Rwanda offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate to other African governments what can be achieved on the ground through strong government commitment, well-planned and targeted investment and collaboration with development partners, the report says.
However, WaterAid calls on development partners (donor governments, bilateral & multilateral agencies) to keep their past promises on aid levels and support Rwanda in its efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals and achieve universal access to water and sanitation.
The Rwandan government has identified an annual funding gap of $83 million in order to reach every person with access to water and sanitation by 2017.
WaterAid also offers a note of caution on the Government’s spending, highlighting figures showing that over the last five years Rwanda’s planned expenditure on water and sanitation has fallen from a high of 24.9 billion Rwandan Francs in 2008 to 16.3 billion Rwandan Francs in financial year 2011/12.
Whilst the budget for water and sanitation increased this financial year to 23.2 billion Rwandan Francs, the report says that it is unlikely that the government has met its 2008 eThekwini African Union commitment to increase spending on sanitation and hygiene alone to 0.5% of GDP.
Between 2008 and 2010 Rwanda spent on average just 0.65% of its GDP annually on water and sanitation combined (Rwandan Francs 19.8 billion).
The WaterAid report calls on donor governments, the Government of Rwanda, alongside other African governments, to not only aim to meet the 2008 eThekwini spending commitments of 0.5% of GDP, but to go further by aiming to spend at least 1% of GDP on sanitation and hygiene, in line with the recommendations of a 2011 World Bank report.
World Bank figures also show that poor sanitation access currently costs Rwanda 32 billion Rwandan Francs each year, 0.9% of its GDP
WaterAid congratulates Rwanda’s recent efforts to separate budget lines for spending on sanitation and water, which is another key commitment made as part of the eThekwini declaration to improve accountability and track progress.
WaterAid uses practical solutions to provide clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people, working in 72 countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific region and Central America.