Education Insights

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A water tap in Rwanda. Image by  A An organization such as Water Access Rwanda mobilized resources to partner with the government in its quest to avail water in schools. The social enterprise that was started in 2014 aims to eradicate water scarcity in the East African region starting with Rwanda.  The organisation was started as a summer program by Christelle Kwizera, who was back then studying mechanical engineering at Oklahoma Christian University in the United States of America.  When she came home for a summer break, there was water scarcity mostly in eastern parts of Rwanda. People were fetching unclean water in lakes that were infested by crocodiles. It was then common for people to be killed by crocodiles while fetching unclean water.  That situation inspired Kwizera, the managing director, to come back home after her studies and start the project.  Through a fundraising drive that was done in Oklahoma where she was attending her degree program, she was able to raise more than USD $15,000 to drill 15 boreholes and provide clean water near communities that were fetching water in crocodile-infested lakes.  Six years down the road, the organisation has provided clean water to over 100,000 Rwandans through a network of 95 boreholes and INUMA-purified water micro grids.  Now the organisation is joining hands with the government to connect schools to clean water in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19. Even though the task is huge, Water Access Rwanda is intending to play its parts.  published here The technical director of the social enterprise, Christian Hirwa, said that two schools in Kigali city have already been connected to its system using the INUMA tap, which is a kiosk connected to a borehole.  “Our water source is a borehole that is powered by a solar pump or a hybrid of solar and electricity,” explains Hirwa.  The technical team at Water Access Rwanda purifies water using a filtration system that removes sediments. They also add chlorine so that the quality of water is the same from production to the end users.  The social enterprise is mobilizing resources with different stakeholders to connect more schools.  Given the fact that it is now an obligation for schools to be connected to clean water to facilitate hand-washing, schools across the country are appealing to the government to lower water tariffs as they fear that water expenditures will increase. The issue was also exposed by the report of the Parliament Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth, which was approved by the Parliament on June 12, 2020.  Nicodème Twahirwa, the head teacher of Ecole des Sciences Louis de Montfort Nyanza in Nyanza District, said that the school has 678 students and spends between Rwf 600,000 and Rwf 700,000 (about USD $600-700) on water per month.  The school is classified in the non-residential category as it consumes more than 50 cubic metres of water per month.  The current water tariffs set by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) are based on the monthly water consumption by cubic metre (m3) whereby a flat rate of Rwf 323 is charged on a cubic metre for public tap, while water for non-residential category ranges from Rwf 877 a cubic metre for water use that does not exceed 50 cubic metres, and Rwf 895 a metre for water that is above 50 cubic metres per month. A school like Ecole des Sciences Louis de Montfort Nyanza in Nyanza District fears that with that tariff coupled with a VAT of 18 percent, it will end up paying more than Rwf 1,000 (USD $1) a cubic metre.  In order to implement the government’s requirement to avail water in schools and facilitate hand-washing to fight against COVID-19, schools are appealing to the government to classify them in the category of public tap so that they will afford water expenditure.  Schools are arguing that a lot of water is consumed to meet students’ needs for drinking water, washing clothes, and preparing meals, among others. In addition to that, implementing hygiene practices consisting of frequently washing hands in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in schools will likely increase water consumption.

https://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/water-access-top-priority-rwandan-schools-they-reopen [Training]