Clean water saving lives (and emissions) in Rwanda

What has clean water got to do with the climate? 

Thirsty families in the rural Rwandan areas of Gatsibo and Kayonza have two options when it comes to drinking water: (1) they can either drink the unclean water they have access to and roll the dice, or (2) they can traipse around in search of firewood to burn to boil the water.

Boiling the water makes it safe for consumption but emits CO2, causes deforestation and requires women and children to spend hours collecting firewood in often unsafe areas. The alternative is potential death by diarrhoea.

In Rwanda... 25% of the population still do not have access to clean water and over 900 children under 5 die from diarrhoea every year.


CO2balance’s Rwanda Safe Water project works with local groups and NGOs in Rwanda to establish safe and reliable water sources, unaffected by seasonal rains, that don’t require boiling to treat it. They do this by repairing broken-down boreholes and working with locals to implement a maintenance program. Infrastructure maintenance may not sound very sexy but the outcomes are phenomenal. 

In terms of the climate impact, each of the 12 micro-projects under this programme prevents 10,000 tCO2e of emissions from entering the atmosphere. That’s equivalent to what roughly 14,000 kiwis emit in an entire year.

Plus the co-benefits are literally life-changing:

  1. Communities get a clean, safe, consistent supply of water from the boreholes.
  2. Waterbourne disease rates decrease, making life easier for those struggling from it
  3. Families spend less time collecting wood and water from traditional sources (which can be unsafe)
  4. There is reduced pressure on local wildlife and ecosystems due to reduced deforestation.

The local community... assert that the renovated boreholes have fundamentally reduced the amount of firewood they use in boiling the drinking, cleaning and washing water. This has subsequently lessened the time the women and children spend in collecting firewood. They are therefore able to utilize the time in engaging in other economic activities.

Clarisse Ingabire, The Gold Standard Objective Observer

To repair and maintain the boreholes, the Rwanda Safe Water Project needs ongoing funding. We're proud to be working with CO2balance to make sure this happens.

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