Improving water supply and sanitation

Programme description

Title: Sector programme Water and Sanitation (PROSECEAU) in Burundi
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Burundi
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l’Eau, de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de l’Urbanisme (MEEATU); Ministère de l’Energie et des Mines (MEM)
Overall term: 2007 to 2020


The institutional and legal framework for Burundi’s water sector has recently improved. The proportion of the population supplied with drinking water has risen from about 50% (2008) to 60% nationwide. In other words, over a million more people have access to drinking water. However, Burundi will fall short of the national target of providing three quarters of the population with coverage by 2015. Access to adequate sanitation is extremely low at 13% in rural areas and 33% in urban areas (2012).

The programme supports water sector reforms introduced by the Government of Burundi to improve the institutional and legal framework. These reforms also incorporate the decentralisation process into the water sector, thereby strengthening municipal capacities to improve supply security for the poor population.


As a result of the introduction of integrated water resources management and decentralised, professional, service-oriented and cost-covering operations, including the creation of financial reserves, there are sustainable improvements in water supply and sanitation for the population.


GIZ supports improvements to the political, institutional and legal framework and enhances the effectiveness of water sector institutions with the aim of making water supply and sanitation more sustainable. KfW Development Bank is taking complementary actions to assist the water supply and sanitation sector in providing more extensive coverage in six towns and cities and 25 rural municipalities.

Germany is currently the largest donor in Burundi’s water sector and coordinates donor support.

The programme’s key functions:

  • Improving the framework for sector reform

The Ministry of Water (MEEATU) and its directorate general (DGREA) are receiving support in performing their core functions:

  1. Monitoring implementation of the national sector strategy (SNEau) and the national sanitation policy
  2. Planning expenditure on water sector development
  3. Improving the conservation and management of water resources
  • Planning and guidance tasks in drinking water and sanitation supply; making the water and electricity provider (REGIDESO) more efficient

The project supports the DGIHA, the directorate general responsible for planning drinking water and sanitation infrastructure within the Ministry of Energy (MEM), in its efforts to improve the quality and coherence of investment and budget planning. The MEM adopted new instruments from the Ministry of Finance for this reason. Establishing the required interfaces between the MEM as the competent ministry and the Ministry of Finance is especially important.

Lasting improvements in water supply services are to be achieved through advisory services in the context of organisational development and process design for the urban water and electricity provider REGIDESO and improving the institutional framework.

  • Strengthening municipal responsibility and ownership in water supply and sanitation

The decentralisation process is increasingly shifting the responsibility for planning and operating water and sanitation infrastructure to municipalities. To enable the municipalities to perform this role, the project is enhancing the advisory skills of the Agency for Rural Water Management (AHR), the main intermediary. The AHR’s work focuses on putting municipalities in a better position to perform planning and monitoring, for instance by introducing new procedures or carrying out training for municipal water suppliers. The project cooperates closely with the Programme to Support Decentralisation and Poverty Reduction (ADLP) on this issue.

The consulting firm GFA supports the implementation of the project.

Results achieved so far

The Government of Burundi adopted a National Water Policy in 2009 and the subsequent National Water Strategy, together with an action plan, in 2012. The country thus has an official reference and planning tool for developing the water sector. Sector ministries use this reference document to plan their expenditure and budget and to mobilise financing.

An integrated approach, decentralisation and the cost-covering operation of water supply systems are now firmly embedded in the water sector’s policy and legislative framework instruments. The 2012 Water Framework Law lists its guiding principles as subsidiarity, to be achieved by transferring competencies to decentralised structures, and sustainability in drinking water supply, to be achieved by covering costs. The action plan of the National Water Strategy outlines steps to put these guiding principles into action. The water sector is supporting the decentralisation process and is a pioneer in implementing the national decentralisation policy in specific sectors.

Roughly one third of rural municipalities that have managed to expand their drinking water infrastructure with help from KfW Development Bank put in place a new operating model at the end of 2012. This involves municipal governments signing delegation agreements with municipal service providers. The model stipulates a tariff that covers running costs as a basic prerequisite for sustainable operation.

Burundi. Two children carry water on their heads in a pail and a metal container. © GIZ

Sanitation provision is still in its infancy and has hardly been expanded at all in recent years. Access to adequate sanitation services remains extremely low at 15% of households and 17% of primary schools. In order to provide addition impetus in this context, the project supported the development of a national sanitation policy and an action plan, which the cabinet adopted in September 2013.