Critical Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Challenges in Rwanda

Aime Tsinda, Pamela Abbott

Research output: Working paper


The world’s population is expected to grow from 7.6 billion to 8.6 billion by 2030 and to 9.8 billion by 2050. A large proportion of this population growth is expected to occur in Africa where the population is expected to double from its current level of 1.3 billion by mid-century. Most of this growth will occur in urban areas as Africa’s cities and towns triple in size.

Rwanda is among the countries with highest population density in Africa. In addition, the population is projected to double by 2050 and 70% of people will be in urban areas. Compared to 2012 levels, by 2032 the total number of households is expected to increase from 2.4 million to 5.3 million with over 100% increase. Such rapid growth will further add pressure to the already increasing demand for water, sanitation and hygiene related facilities and services, especially from low-income households.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations, have sparked a renewed focus on what strategies will be necessary to achieve universal access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2030. To achieve SDGs targets, Rwanda will require US$134 million to build and maintain universal basic coverage and an additional $286 million to build and maintain safely managed services each year up to 2030. This working paper analyses four main challenges to achieving sustained, universal access to safe water and sanitation in the context of Rwanda:

1. The scale of the need for safe water, sanitation and hygiene. 2. How to best sustain essential WASH services over the long-term? 3. How to reach people most in need? 4. The integration of water, sanitation and hygiene for health.

Addressing the above four challenges will require organizations implementing many projects to work of varying scale, technology and approach to work in harmony and optimize interventions. There is a need to build capacity, create and sustain demand, provide products and services, monitor for improvement and provide appropriate financing. In this way, we can collectively achieve sustained services in WASH for generations to come.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2018

Publication series

PublisherCentre for Global Development, University of Aberdeen
ISSN (Print)2399-4975

Bibliographical note

This working paper draws on research carried out as part of a Post Doctoral
Grants (Post-doc) Scheme through the University of Rwanda, UR-Sweden Programme of Research, Higher Education and Institutional Advancement, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The authors would like to thank the University of Rwanda and the funder for the support provided.


  • WASH
  • Issues
  • SDGs
  • Rwanda


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