To celebrate a million dollars raised, we’re taking the opportunity to
look back at the projects which your donations have made possible. Second in our series: Rwanda!
Known as “The Land of a Thousand Hills,” Rwanda is a mountainous,
temperate country in central Africa that boasts an enormous diversity of
plant and animal life, including the critically endangered mountain
gorillas. The population is young and predominately rural, with over 90
percent working in agriculture, producing the country’s major cash crops
tea and coffee. Continuously populated for at least 5,000 years, Rwanda
is home to three major groups–the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, believed to have
descended from Rwanda’s earliest inhabitants.
Ethnic instability between these groups, particularly the Hutu and
Tutsi, erupted in 1994. Within three months, 800,000 Tutsi and moderate
Hutus were killed by organized government and rebel groups following the
assassination of Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana. Two million others
fled as refugees, though most have now returned. The conflict had
devastating effects on the economic and social structure of Rwanda, and
reconciliation is ongoing.
Rwanda possesses an innately fertile ecosystem with abundant rainfall;
however, its population density (among the highest in Africa) and
reliance on agriculture have taxed its natural water resources.
Deforestation and erosion have reduced spring productivity, which is the
main source of rural water supply. In addition, the civil war and
genocide left up to half of rural water schemes inoperable in 2004,
necessitating great infrastructure restoration.
Lack of water greatly affects the entire population, but women and
children are especially hard-hit. In some regions, more than one in five
households are more than an hour away from water, and even where water
is available, waits of more than four hours at water sources are common.
The early 21st century saw increasing decentralization of the Rwandan
government, giving local districts greater authority to develop and
manage their own water infrastructure. Following success in neighboring
Uganda, the local government in the Northern Byumba Province contracted
out their service to the local private sector, leading to a
private-public partnership that has since become the model supported by
the national government for infrastructure investment in Rwanda.
Water access has since improved from approximately 41 percent in 2001 to
55 percent in 2005, and government figures show access continuing to
rise to 71 percent in 2007. Despite the great gains in water access,
sanitation access remains as low as 8 percent in rural areas. The
Rwandan government has set a goal of universal access to water and
sanitation by 2020, led by these public-private partnerships.
African Well Fund funded a project implemented by Africare that created a
water point for the Kigeme Primary School in Nyamagabe District, with a
goal of providing water for the 800 students at the school and 3,000
members of the local community. In addition, the project sought to
improve hygiene through increased sanitation access.
To construct the well, water was tapped from a nearby refugee camp
reservoir and directed to a newly constructed reservoir at Kigeme
Primary School. Funds from AWF provided for the construction of the
reservoir, and for the procurement of the booster pump, water pipes and