The New Times
Rwanda yesterday joined the rest of the world to celebrate the World Water Day, by launchingseveral rural water and sanitation projects under the auspices of the Programme for RuralWater and Sanitation (PEAMR). This year's celebrations held in Gisagara District, in theSouthern Province were held under the theme 'Coping with Water Scarcity' and, according tothe Director of Water in the Ministry of Water and Mines, Jean-Marie Vianney Mushinzimana(pictured), PEAMR has so far provided clean water to 28.79 % of the population, bringing thetotal percentage of people with access to clean water to 63.83 %.
Supported by the World Bank, Belgian Cooperation and other donors PEAMR spearheads thegovernment of Rwanda's objective to provide clean water to its people.The World Water Day is celebrated on March 22 each year since 1992 after the Rio EarthSummit.Meanwhile, water issues have drawn considerable attention in the last two years after studiesrevealed the critical nature of water availability and quality in relation to increasing needs.Just to show how water issues have become important, UNDP's 2006 Human DevelopmentReport is titled "Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis"This is particularly compelling for Rwanda. Rwanda, warns Leif Ohlsson, Swedish Professor atGoteborg University, in the evocatively titled: 'The turning of the screw: social adaptation towater scarcity' is 'more than twice as socially water-stressed as Kenya, due to its lower socialadaptive capacity'.The Global Water guide book predicts that Rwanda's water situation is likely to worsen asavailability of water diminishes with increased industrialization.
Luckily enough government has taken proactive steps to address Water issues; a full-fledgedMinistry of Water and Mines led by Prof.Bikoro-Munyanganizi, has embarked on steps to seethat water policies are made. Implementation of these policies however, depends on otherequally important players in the water sector, from rural water management associations toAcademia. The onus here will be on how these efforts can be integrated and focused to thesustainable use of perhaps, what will be the most precious resource in the next decade...Kenyan expert, Wanja Njuguna-Githinji, candidly delivers the bad news; "Water shortages,polluted water, improper waste disposal and poor water management cause serious publichealth problems in Africa today" views apocalyptically echoed by Marq de Villiers in his book"Water Wars".
Even the solemn Ismail Serageldin, the World Bank's vice president for environmental affairs,expresses the same fear: "Wars of the 21st Century will be fought over water.".
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