By Ilija Gubic, Senior Officer – Green Infrastructure (Rwanda Program) Africa & The Middle East and Dheeraj Arrabothu, Green Building Officer, Rwanda Program
22 March 2018, Kigali, Rwanda – Rwanda, although predominantly rural, has been urbanizing rapidly, from a half-million urban residents in 1995 to more than three and a half million today. Two years ago the Government of Rwanda, in partnership with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), launched the National Roadmap for Green Secondary Cities Development. This Roadmap provides guidance to Rwanda’s six Secondary Cities on how to grow sustainably, contributing to Rwanda’s national urbanization strategy. Securing access to basic services is detailed in six pillars of inclusive and harmonious development of Secondary Cities.
Providing better access for city dwellers to clean water, sanitation, health care, transportation, education and other basic needs is crucial to securing the advantage that urbanization brings to population: with those urban services, Rwanda’s Secondary Cities are becoming hubs for economic development.
The National Roadmap suggests that water production, distribution and sanitation services are a necessity for urban growth, and has guided practitioners on how to preserve and protect water sources, increase access to water and improve the sustainability of water treatment and distribution. The National Roadmap also provides guidance to optimize water consumption behaviors as urbanization of secondary cities is adding pressure to the provision of water.
In 2017, the GGGI Rwanda team in cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure conducted trainings for 24 secondary cities district technicians and more than 30 sector- level technicians in Muhanga and Nyagatare on implementing the National Roadmap. The focus of the trainings was on water production, distribution, sanitation and efferent water usage practices in buildings.
Recently, the Government of Rwanda has requested districts to prepare its development strategies that would guide development until 2024. GGGI seconded its Technical Assistants to facilitate the consultation process in 6 districts, namely, Huye, Muhanga, Musanze, Nyagatare, Rubavu and Rusizi. District Development Strategies (DDS) highly prioritized water and sanitation projects and programs. For example, in the Nyagatare DDS that is under development, Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) is identified as a cross-cutting sector to mainstream sustainable development in the district. Specific interventions include strengthening shorelines of rivers increasing households with rainwater collection systems to name a few. In terms of increasing access to safe drinking water, Nyagatare DDS aims to have 100 percent of urban and rural households to be connected to safe drinking water by the end of the plan period. In secondary cities in Rwanda, overall urban access rates suggest that cities are progressing, reaching targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Moreover, following the National Roadmap, GGGI is supporting the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), the national agency of the Government of Rwanda to develop Green Building Minimum Compliance Guidelines. The Guidelines shall be mandated for all new buildings of 3 and 4 category. The guidelines focus on improving water efficiency in large-scale buildings by encouraging projects to install water efficient plumbing fixtures (devices that help in reducing water consumption in restrooms), rainwater harvesting systems, wastewater treatment in buildings, reuse of treated wastewater for flushing, landscape irrigation and other secondary applications. Most importantly, the guidelines advise installation of water sub-metering for various water-use applications (such as flushing, landscape irrigation or wastewater treatment). Those applications measure water consumption so that it can be efficiently managed. Similar water efficiency best practices from India have shown water savings potential of 30-40% in buildings compared to conventional buildings. The guidelines are aimed to help building owners and developers to bring ‘water wise’ planning at the forefront of building construction to promote resource efficiency in the sector and sensibly use water.
In 2016, GGGI was requested by the Government of Rwanda to provide technical assistance for green building certification of the upcoming International Airport in Bugesera district of Rwanda. Phase 1 work involved reduction of energy and water consumption of the proposed airport design through design optimization and high-value engineering. Notable design modifications/suggestions include installation of rainwater harvesting tank for non-potable water requirements, provision of low-flow water fittings, promotion of native & drought tolerant plant species and rain sensor detection system to reduce water consumption for landscape irrigation, waste water treatment system, monitoring of water consumption through Building Management System (BMS) – a tool to monitor and manage resources efficiently and provision of a water leakage detection system to minimize distribution losses. The study estimated that the New Bugesera International Airport (NBIA) can achieve water savings of 71% compared to the baseline scenario. GGGI is working with the NBIA team to ensure that the airport achieves a high-level of sustainable performance in design, construction and operation.
Last year, GGGI held consultations with Rwanda’s Water & Sanitation public utility (WASAC) planning team members to help them strengthen their technical capacity. This support planned for 2018 would ensure that the sanitation sector is developed in a sustainable way. GGGI would provide strategic advice on new projects, provide assistance at the operational level, and strengthen capacity of WASAC’s staff.
In addition to all ongoing work in partnership with the Government of Rwanda on water production, distribution and sanitation, for the GGGI Rwanda team looks forward to taking on new challenging projects in 2018.
So far, this year, GGGI has provided technical assistance in preparing application documents for the Government of Rwanda to benefit from two grants from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). One grant of USD 32 million will help improve the climate resilience of rural communities and focusing on restoration and enhancement of the watersheds. The second grant of USD 600,000 will enhance climate resilience readiness of Secondary Cities: it will serve to elaborate a green secondary city development plan that will help decrease the demand for water in the short, medium, and long-term.
Proving to be a trusted partner for the Government of Rwanda and stakeholders in the water sector, GGGI will continue to support Rwanda in solving pressure to the provision of water that urbanization brings as a challenge, achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.
 As per Rwanda building permitting procedures, Category 3 buildings are defined as buildings with more than two floors (Ground floor + 1) and with a capacity to host more than 100 people. Similarly, category 4 buildings are defined as buildings with a capacity to host more than 500 people.