On the 30th March 2015, a joint delegation from the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) and the Netherlands Embassy in Kigali has visited the laboratory of INES (Institut d’Enseignement Supérieur) in Ruhengeri (Rwanda). Ms Brechtje Klandermans and Gaspar Ndagijimana, respectively 1st Secretary and Advisor of the Netherlands Embassy in Kigali, joined by Mrs. Grace Kyomuhendo and Pierre Ruhumuliza from GVTC and respectively Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of Finance & Administration and Administration Officer visited the project of Water Scarcity in Virunga- Bwindi Landscape implemented at INES-Ruhengeri and funded by GVTC thanks to funds received by the Kingodom of the Netherlands. In partnership with GVTC regional water quality laboratory has been equipped to conduct survey of water quality status in the region.
In INES laboratory, Mr Deogratias Nahayo, Head of Civil Engeneering Department, and his assistants, gave an overview of this project that GVTC has been developed by conducting a survey of hydrological system in Virunga-Bwindi Landscape which is still sharing the same ecosystem and facing similar problems related to water scarcity. Deogratias Nahayo pointed out the fact that in the Virunga-Bwindi Landscape, there is few surface water sources available to the communities, a lack of sufficient potable water supply facilities for the populations closed to the parks and the communities around the parks fetch water from the sources within the parks.
All those challenges of water quality have stimulated GVTC since 2014, in regards of its vision and mandate, to support INES to develop studies and laboratory experimentations on water quality in the regional for the interest of the populations living in the Virunga-Bwindi Landscape (Rwanda, Uganda, DRC) and other peoples around.
This project funded by GVTC through the Netherlands funds is so crucial because there is no existing water quality laboratory in the region to help in continuous monitoring water quality. Strategic analysis will be conducted and will contribute to the amortization of equipment while continuous trainings and researches on water quality are expected to strengthen the human resources committed to this project and increase the regional consumers’ awareness on the importance of water quality.
A similar project is being jointly developed by URP (Uplift the Rural Poor) in Uganda, funded by GVTC with the funds received by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is in this context that Mrs. Beatrice Kabihogo was invited to join INES and present the results of the project on water scarcity in the Greater Virunga Landscape and the partnership approach to solving this problem. URP is a community based organization based and active in Kisoro District, South Western Uganda aimed at improving the livelihoods of the communities adjacent to the protected areas in Kisoro.
The water scarcity in the Virunga Landscape is so crucial that communities walk 5-10 hours in search of water and it is stated that water scarcity has contributed to high school drop outs and many water borne diseases in this area. Besides, women and children are the most affected by water scarcity since they spend most of their time searching for water. In the Virunga Landscape, water takes more time than any other development work and buying water from vendors may cost between 0.51 US, which is unaffordable to majority. As a result, the alternative is walking longer distances in search of water.
To respond to the communities’ needs related to water scarcity, URP supported by GVTC has contributed to 17 community rain water harvesting tanks of 30 cubic; and the Embassy of Japan has contributed with 9 tanks. But the population pressure on the tanks is still high even if each tank is serving more than 200 households. Each water tank has its trained Water User Committee for sustainable maintenance of the water facility with women taking leading roles.
The third project to be presented is implemented in the North Kivu (DRC) by OVG (Observatoire Vulcanologique de Goma) is the visit is scheduled on the 31st March 2015.
GVTC Communication Service