Rwandan mechanical engineer Christelle Kwizera, who grew up in the aftermath of the country’s genocide is now using a network of boreholes and purified water microgrids to give over 100,000 people access to water – especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kwizera, Founder and Managing Director Company of for-profit social enterprise Water Access Rwanda, says that when Covid-19 hit, it became evident that because of a lack of handwashing facilities and a lack of flowing, reliable piped water, many in rural areas could not wash their hands nor social distance.
“COVID-19 has opened the eyes of many on the needs in rural areas and there is renewed commitment to build back better,” she said.
Kwizera says that safe, drinking water delivered through pipes is still an urban luxury.
“Women in Sub-Saharan Africa lose 200 million hours daily walking for water and waterborne diseases like diarrhea are leading causes of mortality, especially for children,” she said.
Kwizera says although a lot of funding has been poured into the water sector from “big names” such as UNICEF, Rotary Foundation and others, there still isn’t a sustainable business model for access to clean water and that much of the water supply infrastructure in many regions of Africa is currently non-functional.
“Safe Water mini-grids are a great way to quickly and sustainably provide safe water to rural areas while creating job opportunities for young people off- the farm,” she said, “We have seen a rise of interest in our work due to COVID19 and we hope it will translate into real action to scale our solution.”
She says her Rwandan-based social enterprise offers simple, durable and affordable water solutions to Rwanda and in the East Africa region, focused on the “bottom of the pyramid” and their need for safe, affordable water.
“Covid-19 also affected many of the communities we are working in,” she said, adding that it was an opportunity for the company to support communities at a time when many of them lost their income sources.
The company says it has now provided water to over 100,000 Rwandans through a network of 95 boreholes and its INUMA purified clean water microgrids.
Born into Genocide
Kwizera was born just 4 months before the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and says her early childhood was marked by instability and poverty, with
“Things quickly changed for my family along with other reconstruction efforts happening in the country,” she said, adding that her family was able to settle in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali and provide a good education for her.
“I was an entrepreneur from early on and really enjoyed shows like…
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