Sanitation in Rwanda
Rwanda is a developing country located in central Africa. After a genocide left Rwanda in extreme poverty, the country is fighting to improve living conditions and life expectancy. Here are seven facts about sanitation in Rwanda.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Rwanda

  1. There are not enough wells in rural areas of Rwanda. Millions of women and children choose to walk over three miles a day to collect water for their families in order to sustain themselves. Most nearby water sources have experienced contamination. In the year 2000, 45 percent of the population had access to safely managed and basic drinking water. The number has now risen to 58 percent with the help of organizations like The Water Project and Charity Water to build wells.
  2. Waste management solutions can be simple and effective. Rwanda is turning the fecal waste from latrine pits into fertilizer and selling it to farmers. This is preventing the collection of the waste in ponds that later flood back into the communities during the rainy season.
  3. In 2000, just over 1 percent of the Rwandan population had proper handwashing facilities. Organizations like UNICEF have been working on educating communities about the importance of handwashing with soap. Its tactics include media campaigns and outreach programs. It increased the number of Rwandan’s with proper handwashing facilities to 5 percent of the population in 2017.
  4. Washing hands is one of the most effective ways to fight diseases that poor sanitation causes. One of the leading causes of death in Rwanda is diarrheal diseases, which is responsible for 8 percent of all deaths among those under 5 years old. This is easily preventable in any country when its citizens receive proper WASH education.
  5. Rwanda’s government signed agreements in 2019 with the African Development Bank to receive a loan of $115 million to support water infrastructure within the country. This has been one of the latest steps since the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for a focus on water and sanitation. The United Nations adopted this agenda in 2015 with its sixth goal being to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
  6. Young girls miss school every month while menstruating. This is due to many Rwandans considering menstruation taboo, leading to a lack of resources and education. The Sustainable Health Enterprise (SHE) is offering programs that distribute eco-friendly pads and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) training after school. Additionally, SHE’s campaign for menstrual hygiene awareness reached nearly 1,000 students in eight schools in 2013. Moreover, it reached 4.3 million people throughout the country in 2019.
  7. Sanitation in Rwanda is improving. With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Rwanda continues to provide new ways of sanitation for its people. In March 2020, the country began installing hand-washing stations at bus stops in the capital of Kigali to prevent the spread of the virus.

Proper sanitation is necessary for economic development. Access to clean water and education on basic hygienic practices directly affects the rest of a country’s ability to thrive. Many cost-benefit analysis studies show that poor sanitation leads to a larger economic loss. As a result, developing countries should put preventative measures in place.

Molly Moline
Photo: Flickr