The Rulindo Challenge is an initiative developed in 2010 by the partnership of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Water For People and the Rwandan government. The Challenge acts as a permanent solution to provide full water access to the northern, rural Rwandan province of Rulindo by 2018.
Approximately 285,000 people reside in the Rulindo District. The terrain of the area is mostly hills and valleys, so springs and groundwater make up the main sources of water in Rulindo.
According a report by Water For People, prior to the Rulindo Challenge the area lacked proper standards in terms of the water quality in Rwanda. Only 29 percent of the population had access to safe drinking water and just six percent of water systems were likely to provide sustainable water service.
Rulindo’s 2016 goals include increasing the levels of water access by 11 percent through sustainable water infrastructure, such as installing eight piped water systems in five areas and water tanks in 13 schools. A new health care facility was also constructed as a result of the goals.
The Rulindo Challenge also seeks to increase the newly established water infrastructure’s sustainability to 100 percent at the end of 2016, building the technical and financial capacity needed for two private operators and the district water board members and staff.
To implement these goals, the progressive partnership has developed a systematic approach in order to meet district-wide demands for clean water and sanitation. The joint partners set out to achieve sustainability challenges to meet current local capacity and strength, leveraging locally available resources and striving to serve as a model for replication.
According to a report by Water For People, “community water service has increased 20 percentage points to 49 percent in the district as a result of these activities.” The water and sanitation at schools and clinics also increased drastically to 67 percent in the Rulindo District.
Currently, nearly 118,000 community water beneficiaries, 114 connections at 68 public institution water systems and over 51,500 public water beneficiaries have been created since the beginning of the Rulindo Challenge to improve water quality in Rwanda.
The initiative resulted in improved access to water supply for 60,000 people. In addition, the quality of the water mechanisms are expected to last well into the future. Sustainability measures in 2012 recorded just six percent prior to the Rulindo Challenge.
The increase in sustainability to 89 percent resulted in an 83-point percentage overall improvement. Due to the increased sustainability in the district, the implementation of the strategies and approaches shows that communities and public institutions will have safe, reliable access to drinking water for many years to come.
When the Rulindo Challenge concludes in 2018, the partners will implement a thorough exit strategy to ensure that the maintenance and protection of the water resources remains intact. In addition, the partners will implement a plan for climate change resilience to promote sustainability and access to adequate water sources for generations to come.
– Haylee Gardner
Photo: Water for People