Water For People

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Rwanda is a small landlocked country in east-central Africa, bordered by Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania; it supports the densest population in continental Africa, most of who engage in subsistence agriculture.

According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) Report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), in Rwanda 69% of people have improved water and 69% have access to improved sanitation. These numbers considerably overestimate water coverage in the country; they do not take into consideration the number of users per water point, accessibility throughout the year, or water quality.

In June 2008, Water For People opened an office in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital and largest city. Since then, Water For People–Rwanda has worked with various stakeholders to determine how best to provide sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education.


Rural access to improved water:
Rural access to improved sanitation:
Kinyarwanda, French, English, Kiswahili
Per capita income:
Life expectancy (M/F):
Under-five mortality rate:
23/1,000 live births

Source: World Health Organization


Water For People–Rwanda has focused work on the districts of Kicukiro and Rulindo.

Located in the northern province, Rulindo is home to approximately 285,000 people. It is composed of steep hills and valleys, with springs and rivers serving as the typical water sources.

The Kicukiro District is located southeast of Kigali; Kicukiro is home to approximately 255,000 people. With both rural and peri-urban areas, this district has rolling hills and the main water sources are streams, rivers, and groundwater.


Lasting water and sanitation solutions can be achieved only when key players—the private sector, civil society, and local government—are supported. Therefore, Water For People is deeply involved with key local stakeholders, including: district governments; the national Ministries of Health, Infrastructure, and Environment and Land; the Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA); private-sector companies Boundless and Global Environment Care; and the Organization for Solidarity and Development (ORSD).

Current Work

Water For People–Rwanda is continuing to work toward increasing water coverage in the districts of Rulindo and Kicukiro. In Rulindo, together with partners, Water For People–Rwanda is completing water systems that will serve more than 40,000 people, and five schools will gain access to sanitation facilities with hand-washing stations this year. These water systems will be managed by a private operator who will be selected by the district.

In Kicukiro, Water For People–Rwanda is working with the district and EWSA to provide access to safe drinking water for more than 14,000 people. In addition, Water For People–Rwanda plans to continue its Sanitation as a Business (SAAB) programming in and around Kigali and Rulindo. By partnering with the government and the private sector across both water and sanitation programs, Water For People–Rwanda is building the environment for these services to be sustained without another external development organization.

View Current Progress


In October 2010, Water For People–Rwanda partnered with the Rwandan government for the “Rulindo Challenge,” an initiative to provide full water coverage for the entire Rulindo District. With this multiyear commitment, Water For People–Rwanda will provide 55% of the financing, the Ministry of Infrastructure (through EWSA) 35%, and the district of Rulindo 15% to reach everyone. This forward-looking partnership is a transformative change in worldwide development models that shifts from never-ending, community-based projects and open-ended international NGO involvement to a systematic program designed to tackle sustainability challenges by focusing on systems management, appropriate tariffs for access, and technical support to ensure the infrastructure is managed properly, fixed when needed, and replaced when required.

Water For People–Rwanda works in schools to increase access to sustainable water and sanitation and promote hygiene education.

Water For People–Rwanda is working to increase sanitation access by supporting a local business development service provider, Boundless, to facilitate the establishment of sanitation businesses. In Rulindo, Water For People–Rwanda and Boundless are working on providing households with access to loans for sanitation facilities through rural savings and credit cooperatives.

A critical aspect of Water For People–Rwanda’s programming is increasing the sustainability of water systems, and to achieve this, efforts are concentrated on establishing management systems that ensure the water supply systems are well maintained, repaired, and replaced over time. In rural Rulindo, a private operator is selected by the district to manage the water system and is responsible for selling water to users through employed water sellers, minor maintenance of the system, and reporting any needed major repairs to the district. Through this approach, the private operator is motivated by profit to ensure that regular service is provided, routine maintenance is conducted, and downtime is limited.

Water For People–Rwanda works in schools throughout the districts of Rulindo and Kicukiro to increase their access to sustainable water and sanitation facilities, and to promote sound hygiene practices among students. Working with local NGO partners, Water For People–Rwanda facilitates the construction of toilets for girls and boys, and rainwater catchment tanks for hand-washing and cleaning. Each sanitation facility has a hand-washing station with water provided by the rainwater catchment system, and incinerators are installed for disposal of sanitary products.


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