The sanitation success story? Examining sanitation funding in Rwanda

Rwanda is often hailed as a success story in improving access to clean water and sanitation and with good reason! According to the official government of Rwanda statistics, the MDG target of 62% access to sanitation by 2015 has already been well surpassed with 74.5% access to basic sanitation achieved in 2011/12. This differs slightly from the JMP statistics which cites access at only 61% in 2011, yet even working on these more conservative statistics Rwanda is making excellent progress, is well ahead of many of its neighbours and on track to surpass its MDG target. Based on its admirable rate of progress the Rwandan government has gone one step further than this by setting its own targets as part of the ‘Rwanda Vision 2020’ initiative to achieve universal access to sanitation and clean water by the year 2020, a goal also reflected in Rwanda’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), and which according to official government reports is currently on track to achieve early by 2017, which would truly be a huge success!

So what is Rwanda spending in order to achieve such great progress in improving access to sanitation? When first visiting the Government of Rwanda website, finding the correct ministry responsible for sanitation was relatively easy. Water Supply and Sanitation falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA), the website for which a handy link is provided. However, once on the MINIFRA website the ease of information seems to seize up and things get a bit confusing.My first surprise was the ‘introduction’ to water and sanitation, citing access to sanitation which meets ‘suitable hygienic standards’ at 38%, far lower than other recent statistics and seemingly very outdated.Further exploration of the site in search of budget and expenditure for sanitation reveals little, with the most up to date budget information and action plan both from 2009/10 and significantly lacking in detail. The pages for the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) responsible for sanitation within the MINIFRA, is no more up to date, with the most recent annual report available from 2008.

I instead turn my attention to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN), with much more success. According to the revised budget 2013/15, the budget for improving access to drinking water and sanitation is as follows:

2012/2013 (Revised) – RwF18 599 878 656 (reflecting 1.2% of total RwF1 549 859 475 474)

2013/2014 – RwF 31 437 086 890 (reflecting 2.07% of total RwF1 515 756 239 890)

2014/2015 – RwF 22 550 601 812 (of total 1 475 794 877 228)

The clarity of this impresses me, however there seems to be no breakdown of this reflecting a sanitation specific budget line, a problem echoed in all further annexes of the 2012/13 budget, which although carefully broken down on a project by project basis, place water and sanitation together throughout, making it seemingly impossible to distinguish how much of the budget is being allocated to sanitation alone.

The annexII-1 of the approved budget for 2013/14 however reveals evidence of a sanitation specific budget line! According to which RwF 160, 000, 000 of total RwF1 653 467 462 173 budget is being allocated specifically to improving access to sanitation.However, the Monitoring & Evaluationbudget is still lumped together for sanitation and water making it hard to get an accurate picture of the overall amount being allocated to sanitation alone, particularly when it seems that all other ‘water and sanitation’ budget lines are being allocated solely to ‘water infrastructure’ and that the separate water and sanitation budget sections in the official annexes all seem to only add up to RwF 23,771,599,854 for 2013/14, well under what was set in the previous budget.

Also available on the MINECOFIN website is the2013-2014 citizens budget guide which aims to make information on budget spending more accessible and understandable for Rwandan citizens, a great step forward for budget transparency. The guide states that for 2013/14 the government has allocated 28.4billion RwF to water and sanitation of an overall Rwf 1,653.5 trillion for 2013/14 (1.7% of the overall budget), compared to 27.1 billion RwFof 1,549.8 trillion (revised) budget in 2012/2013(1.75% of the overall budget). However, these numbers again differ from those set out in the revised budget and the current year’s budget annexes and further discrepancies are found when comparing these figures to thetarget of 4.3% of the overall budget to be spent on water and sanitation for 2012 in EDPRS I.

Rwanda does appear to be spending a reasonable amount of its budget on improving access to sanitation and water and is indeed making significant and admirable progress towards achieving universal access as a result. However, the discrepancies reflected when comparing the details in the citizens budget guide and those found in more detailed annexes of the official budgetsfor 2012/13 and 2013/14 raise concerns over the accuracy of reporting on sanitation spending. Although the existence of a citizens budget guide is in itself great for budget transparency, for both 2012/13 and 2013/14 the citizens guide seems to reflect a far higher spend on water and sanitation than in the official budget annexes for the same years, and yet seems to reflect a decreasing percentage of the overall budget being spent on sanitation and water in contrast to the increase reflected in other budget documents.

These discrepancies, coupled with the lack of clarity of a separate overarching budget line for sanitation makes monitoring sanitation spending in Rwanda difficult even for those with the time to spend looking at reports in detail. Mismatches in budget reporting ought therefore to be rectified and a separate overarching budget line for sanitation clearly distinguished in order to ensure sanitation spending can be monitored effectively and that Rwanda stays on track to achieving universal access to sanitation and water by 2020.

– Natasha


12 thoughts on “The sanitation success story? Examining sanitation funding in Rwanda

  1. Tim Brewer

    To clarify – the Rwanda Government access stat of 74.5% includes shared sanitation; The MDG estimate excludes shared, hence being lower.

    It would be interesting to have info on what the government considers ‘acceptable’ though, particularly noting the 38% figure cited.

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