Safe water in Rwanda

Funding: $57,580

Beneficiaries: 3,250 Compassion beneficiaries and their families and 325 church staff and volunteers

Completion date: August 2023

Country: Rwanda

Executive summary

Compassion believes that clean water is a basic human right and essential to children’s holistic well-being. However, some of our frontline church partners in Rwanda still don’t have access to safe water, and it is hindering their ability to meet children’s needs. Sadly, their experience is not unique. According to UNICEF, a mere 12 per cent of Rwandans can currently access safely managed drinking water services. This has devastating consequences for children’s health, education and overall well-being. Children whose families are not using safe water at home are vulnerable to severe diarrheal diseases like typhoid and cholera that can prove fatal. Malnutrition, which is also linked to unsafe water, impacts a child’s physical and cognitive development in a profound, lifelong way. And when children are forced to spend hours of their day collecting water with their families, they miss out on school and often end up dropping out entirely. This disproportionately impacts girls, who are typically expected to take on more of the burden for household responsibilities.

Thirteen of our partners in Rwanda have been doing everything they can to provide children with a sustainable source of safe water, but they are struggling. Some churches had managed to connect to pipelines, but unfortunately some of the pipes were stolen and, months later, have still not been replaced by the contractor. Other churches have been purchasing water for use on centre days, but this is both time- and cost-intensive and is draining resources from other vital services and programs. To make matters worse, vendors often take advantage of the scarcity, charging a premium for water that sometimes turns out to be dirty and unsafe for use.

Our partners have assessed the situation and feel that the best option moving forward is to launch an intervention to install a rainwater harvesting system. By installing a 10,000-litre tank at each centre, churches hope to provide children and families with a sustainable source of water, vastly improving their health and overall quality of life.

Did you know?

Over the last two decades, most Rwandans have seen no improvement in water access. Between 2002 and 2022, the number of citizens with access to clean drinking water only improved by just under 7 per cent and remains extremely low at just 12 per cent.



Compassion exists to advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. Beyond child sponsorship, Compassion Rwanda has implemented various interventions through local churches to achieve this objective.

Clean water is vital for children’s health and well-being. But in Rwanda, where widespread water scarcity continues to drive a national health and hygiene crisis, many children are growing up without access to this basic human need. Lack of access to safe water impacts children’s physical health and development and can seriously hinder their education. This especially impacts girls, who are often held more responsible for household tasks like fetching water. When children give up on their education, they will almost certainly repeat the cycle of poverty of their parents.

Currently, Compassion has partnered with 419 frontline church partners across Rwanda. Under this partnership, Compassion serves more than 105,000 registered children. Over the years, many interventions have been implemented to improve access to water through the provision of water tanks to frontline church partners. These partners have reported many testimonies about improved health conditions among the children and the smooth operations of the Compassion program as a result of these interventions. Thirteen church partners have identified access to safe, clean water as one of their most pressing needs, but they need help if they are going to be able to meet this need.

The need

Compassion believes that every child, regardless of social or economic status, deserves access to safe water as an essential part of their holistic development and well-being. Unfortunately, 13 Compassion centres in Rwanda still do not have access to safe water and have had to resort to purchasing water at great expense to run their programs. Children have to travel long distances to fetch water for their families, often from contaminated water sources, resulting in high rates of water-borne illnesses. Compassion Rwanda has implemented many water and sanitation initiatives with great success. Now, 13 of our church partners across the nation need help bringing clean water to their communities.

With your support, we can end water scarcity in 13 communities across Rwanda through rainwater harvesting systems. Each church will install roof gutters to collect the water, a 10,000-litre storage tank, and a distribution tap to ensure easy access. By June 2023, we expect that the cost of buying water for our partners will be cut in half, freeing up those resources for them to invest elsewhere. Church staff, children and caregivers will also be trained in water use and conservation and learn how to maintain good hygiene habits as part of a healthy lifestyle. We will ensure that the tanks and gutters are installed by qualified professionals, and that all standards from the World Health Organization regarding water quality are met.

What your gift will do

Your gift will provide safe water for 3,250 Compassion-assisted children, their family members and 325 church staff and volunteers, through a rainwater harvesting system that includes:

  • 13 10,000-litre plastic water storage tanks (1 per centre)
  • Materials:
    • Plaster
    • Gravel
    • Stone and aggregate
    • Timber
    • 26 lockable taps (two per church)
    • Cement
    • Pipes
    • Gutters
    • Guttering accessories
    • Jointing compound
    • Binding wire
    • Nails
    • Transportation
  • Skilled labour
  • Sanitation and hygiene training
    • Training materials
    • Follow-up visits


  • Local contribution: US$4,254.37; churches will cover educators’ fees and contribute the use of their buildings for the hygiene training, and volunteer teams from each community will contribute their labour to prepare sites for the water tanks.
  • Handling of funds: Compassion Rwanda will distribute funds to participating churches and ensure that this intervention remains within budget.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: Churches, in conjunction with their partnership facilitators, will be responsible for selecting qualified contractors to install the rainwater harvesting systems. Committees from each church that include centre directors and church pastors will submit monthly reports to a local partnership facilitator during implementation. After the rainwater harvesting systems are installed, each site will be evaluated thoroughly to ensure durability, proper usage and operation, good maintenance and determine whether the objectives were achieved.

No less than 80 per cent of your donation will be used for program activities and a maximum of 20 per cent for fundraising and administration. If we exceed our funding goal for the initiative shown, the remaining funds will be used to fund other programs where the need is greatest.