Living Water began operations to bring safe water in Rwanda in 2007, focusing primarily on operations. In 2011, as led by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Living Water Rwanda moved its operations to the district of Ruhango—adding to that Nyanza District in 2016. This focused direction allows the program staff to have an adequate presence in the communities in which they work in.
Our approach of program implementation through WASH Program Areas is unique in the country as it aims to bring a long lasting physical and spiritual development of the communities. Our programs are located where WASH needs are great and the full participation of communities, churches, local leaders and other stakeholders makes it unique in the sense that it builds ownership leading to sustainability. The integration of gospel and Christian witness in all WASH interventions attracts many stakeholders including communities and community based organizations and even local government. The empowerment of local churches in spiritual and physical development the ideal approach since it postures the churches as leaders in the communities.
In the next 5 years, Living Water International Rwanda will implement its WASH programs in Ruhango and Nyanza Geographic Focus Areas. Ruhango and Nyanza Districts are the less served districts in Rwanda and Living Water has worked with the government of Rwanda to prioritize them because they have great WASH needs. At the moment, access to clean water in Nyanza is 54 percent while it is 57 percent in Ruhango.
In each Geographic Focus Area, Living Water will establish appropriate number of WASH Program Areas in accordance to the WPA development guidelines. In the next five years, three (3) WASH Program Areas will be established. The first WASH program Area is in Ruhango Geographic Focus Area and it is called Ruhango WASH Program Area (currently in the identification phase). The second and the third WASH Program Areas will be established in Nyanza District, one in 2017 and another one in 2021, and their names are to be determined during identification phase.
Living Water will mainly focus all its interventions in the WPAs located within these two geographic focus areas. Upon justifiable request by the government or any other stakeholders; few projects (5-10 percent of the total projects) shall be implemented outside of WPAs (but within the Geographic Focus Areas), or out of the geographical focus areas. Though Living Water Rwanda is focusing in Ruhango and Nyanza, the organization is still following up and maintaining more than 400 water projects drilled in 16 other districts across the country.
According to the recent population census conducted in 2012, Rwanda has made great progress towards access to WASH services. The national average rate of people who have access to an improved water source is estimated to 74 percent of the total population. However, there is a high level of disparity of access to WASH services among rural and urban areas. In rural districts, access to clean and safe water is still very low because there are less developed water infrastructures and investment in WASH sector is insufficient. Access to clean water varies from 89 percent in urban districts to 52 percent in rural districts.
In order to address the challenges of access to clean water, the government of Rwanda, together with its development partners, has developed WASH policies and strategies to guide funding, implementation, management and sustainability of WASH services. They have established a Water and Sanitation sector working group to coordinate all WASH donors and implementers and Living Water is a member of this sector working group. In the next five years, Living Water International Rwanda has strategically selected to work in the two geographic areas (Ruhango and Nyanza) where access to WASH services is very low.
Living Water Rwanda abides by a community-driven operations and maintenance (O&M) approach. Starting in the future WPA, Living Water Rwanda will work with the Ruhango district leadership to select, train, and empower community-based pump mechanics who will be repairing and maintaining water wells. Living Water will develop the capacity of these community associations in both technology, management, and supply chain until they become efficient enough to run O&M within their communities. For the wells located outside the WPA, especially older water projects, Living Water Rwanda will continue the usual repair and maintenance to restore water access. Once the best practices from the CellPump Pilot are released, Living Water Rwanda will also pick and use any good practices that contribute to the efficiency of the O&M approach.
Living Water Rwanda’s hygiene promotion is implemented through empowering communities and institutions (schools, churches, and health centers) through Community Health Clubs (CHCs) and the LWI Traditional Method.
Hygiene promotion sessions are conducted in the communities where the new wells and AWPs are constructed. We also target the local churches, involving them in championing hygiene behavior change in communities. We selectively focus on a group of few church members, equip them with hygiene and sanitation promotion skills, and task them to train neighbors and fellow church members. We conduct one training every four months, gradually making advances in community driven behavior change and overall improved hygiene and sanitation in the WPA.
Living Water Rwanda facilitates the establishment of new Community Health Clubs (CHC) within the Ruhango district. These clubs focus on hygiene promotion in schools, promoting hygiene best practices by providing handwashing facilities and facilities interschool competitions on hygiene and sanitation knowledge.
Through these activities, Living Water Rwanda aims to spread hygiene and sanitation messages to men, women, and children in communities, schools, and churches using trainings and clubs promoted through local radio, billboards, and television.
The power of water to both sustain and cleanse serves as a picture of how God’s Word has this effect on the hearts of those who follow him. We cannot address material needs within a community without recognizing and participating in God’s work of transforming lives. Living Water Uganda believes the best news for communities is not that they can have safe water, but they can be reconciled with their Creator through Jesus Christ. For us, delivering this Good news that looks like:
•Developing prayer groups within communities who will act as ambassadors of Christ
•Leading Bible storytelling workshops at each water access point completed—both nourishing the faith of the community members and strengthening the natural leadership of the pastors
•Hosting inter-church evangelism meetings and activities
•Implementing outreach efforts in primary and secondary schools
We believe in telling stories and asking questions, allowing community members to discover and articulate biblical truth for themselves and apply it to their own context. The collective engagement of local churches with the Bible storytelling approach unites the region through shared language and common understanding of the gospel. Thus, churches that do not typically work together establish relationships and common ground, creating a network representing Christ in their regions.
To learn more about supporting our work here—such as equipment, water projects, or our entire program area, please contact your local Living Water Representative.
To make a gift today, visit Ways to Give.