Improving water supply and sanitation
Title: Sector programme water and sanitation
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Burundi, Central Africa
Lead executing agency: Agency for rural water supply and sanitation (AHAMR), urban water and electricity provider (REGIDESO)
Overall term: 2018 to 2020 (phase IV)
Burundi is rich in water resources and has over 30,000 sources. However, the infrastructure for distributing drinking water to the population is inadequate or in poor condition. In the three provinces supported, 57 per cent of households do not have access to drinking water. The high population density also means that a quarter of water sources are contaminated with bacteria. Due to poor hygiene conditions, the quality of the water deteriorates further while it is being stored in households and is contaminated with bacteria in 75 per cent of cases.
In 2013, Burundi adopted the principles of the Water Law and a strategy that supports the poor population. These remain in force and determine the development of the water sector in spite of a political crisis and the suspension of German cooperation with the Government of Burundi in 2015.
The use of safe drinking water in poor urban and rural households is improved.
In line with the decentralisation process, the project supports municipalities in making decisions on investments in the water supply infrastructure and the way in which it is operated.
To guarantee the water supply in the long term, the project strengthens the financial management of drinking water suppliers. The aim is for an operator’s income to at least cover the costs of operating and maintaining the infrastructure. Operators also receive help with accounting for their services.
Improving the drinking water supply is particularly important for low-income families. The project therefore concentrates on the drinking water supply at public standpipes used by households which are not connected to the water network.
The project sets up protection zones to improve the quality of drinking water. It also develops communications to change behaviour, for example through advertisements and flyers. It promotes the construction of adequate latrines. These measures aim to prevent contamination of drinking water during storage and improve hygiene in the household.
The 2012 Water Framework Law sets out the guiding principles for the water sector. These include the principle of subsidiarity, which involves transferring responsibility to decentralised structures, and the principle of sustainability, meaning that drinking water must be supplied in a way that covers costs.
Investment in water supply and wastewater disposal has played an important role in municipal development plans since the agency for rural water supply and sanitation began advising municipalities on how to draw them up. Since 2014, this has led to the renovation and construction of water networks for around 750,000 people through municipal planning.
Seventy-five per cent of rural communities in Burundi have adopted the drinking water supply organisation model introduced jointly by the project and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). This model involves the municipal governments signing agreements with service providers to transfer duties, competencies and responsibilities to them. The model stipulates a tariff that covers operating costs as a basic prerequisite for long-term operation.