22 February 2024

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Rwanda

Access to water and sanitation are fundamental human rights for everyone’s health, dignity and prosperity. The right to clean water and sanitation is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in international targets, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, SDG 6 is intended to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, while SDG target 4.a.1 is intended to ensure that schools have access to basic drinking water; single-sex basic sanitation facilities; and basic handwashing facilities. Lack of adequate access to WASH services can lead to outbreaks of waterborne diseases (such as cholera) and contribute to child mortality and morbidity, undernutrition and stunting. Poor WASH services affect girls and women, who are primarily responsible for fetching water from the source to the house. Lack of appropriate WASH facilities is also a barrier to education for girls (as they are important for menstrual hygiene) and to economic opportunities for the poor. Improper disposal of human waste and wastewater can contaminate local water sources, soil, and ecosystems, leading to environmental degradation and the spread of disease vectors such as mosquitoes. The COVID-19 pandemic has made even more evident the importance of access to safe water and improved hygiene and to curtail rapid transmission of infectious diseases to the general population.