UNDP Around the world

Natural energy project water treatment systems in Rwanda

Rwanda natural energyManna's first operational water treatment system, being installed at Fawe School in Kigali, Rwanda. This system will treat water for 700 boarding school students.

In Rwanda, nearly 59 percent of households do not have access to clean, potable water. The vast majority of these households live in rural areas of the country where there is little or no infrastructure to provide potable water. As such, the average Rwandan is limited to point-of-use (POU) methods for treating water, such as boiling it. Available forms of energy to boil water include firewood and kerosene and, in some urban areas, electricity. However, the high expense and limited availability of kerosene precludes its use for the majority of the population. While firewood remains the primary resources of energy, due to steady rates of deforestation, and consequently shrinking supply and rising cost, its use is also limited and subject to increasing regulation by the Rwandan Government as it aims to reduce deforestation. Subsequently, many households and schools simply use contaminated water for drinking, food preparation, and personal hygiene. As a result, diarrheal diseases have become one of the leading causes of deaths behind HIV/AIDS and lower respiratory infections.

While there is a tremendous effort in Rwanda to address HIV/AIDS deaths, there is not a comparable level of effort addressing diarrheal diseases. To complement the current efforts to improve public health by increasing the quality of clinics and hospitals in Rwanda, this project focuses on implementing engineering interventions to provide clean water to rural areas.


The purpose of this project is to provide clean water that meets the drinking, cooking, and hygiene needs in rural Rwanda through the instillation of water treatment systems that rely on renewable energy and replace the use of non-renewable firewood for treating water by boiling.

The usual method for providing water to rural areas in Rwanda is through the use of surface water pipelines that collect and distribute surface water through local water networks to community taps for public consumption. The project will use the existing water supply infrastructure and will install photovoltaic powered ultraviolet (UV) disinfection systems on pipelines at four sites in the communities of Mugonero, Esepan, Rwesero, and Nyagasambu. This project builds on the work conducted by Engineering without Borders-USA and uses the same technology that sends the water through gravel flocculators and rapid sand filters as needed, followed by a solar panel-powered UV irradiation system. Each system is configured according the physical needs of the individual site, with the common denominator being the UV irradiation process.

The project targets communities that depend on surface pipelines for their source of water and particularly focuses on installing the solar-powered water treatment systems on pipelines near secondary schools. These systems will offer free-of-charge, clean water to children and the local communities for drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene.


This small-scale project will be implemented and managed by Manna Energy Limited (MEL) in partnership with Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and the Rwanda Ministry of Education (MINEDUC). As the solar systems will avoid the burning of non-renewable firewood, the projects will qualify to issue carbon credits. Manna will use the carbon credits to finance the cost of installation and maintenance of the treatment plants.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project is supported by UNDP MDG Carbon. Technical assistance is provided by the UNDP to ensure that the project reduces greenhouse gas emissions and delivers benefits to the environment and broader sustainable human development.

The Rwanda CDM project is an example of UNDP’s recent efforts to expand MDG Carbon’s partnerships in the carbon markets. UNDP was able to assist the project developer, Manna Energy, to identify and secure a carbon credit purchaser on commercial terms that were highly attractive, despite a downturn in the carbon market. In addition, the project is a concrete example of the capacity-building role that comes from MDG Carbon’s involvement in a project.

UNDP staff played an important role in advising Manna on the technical development of the project; facilitated the introduction between the carbon buyer and Manna; assumed a major role in advising during contract negotiations; and played a key role in assisting Manna to obtain financing commitments from Acumen Fund and Calvert Foundation, two of the most well-established social enterprise funds in the United States.


By providing clean water while reducing deforestation and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning nonrenewable biomass, the project contributes to mitigating climate change in addition to contributing to the UN MDGs for Rwanda. Additionally, the project will reduce the amount of financial resources households and schools must spend on purchasing firewood, freeing up these resources for other economic uses. The project activity also furthers the goals of sustainable development by transferring the UV disinfection system and photovoltaic power system technology to Rwanda and builds the capacity of the local Rwandan workforce by teaching them how to install, operate, and maintain these systems. Moreover, this project provides a chance for rural Rwandans to focus on their work and studies without the frequent illnesses attributable to the widely contaminated water.

Rwanda Natural Energy
Rwanda Natural Energy Project: Water Treatment Systems for Rural Rwanda (Mugonero Esepan, Rwesero, Nyagasambu) - UNFCCC Project 4799
Rwanda Natural Energy Project: Water Treatment Systems for Rural Rwanda (Shyira and Fawe) - UNFCCC Project 4613
UNFCCC Registration Date
25 March 2011 (4799) and 16 May 2011 (4613)
Crediting Period
10 years
Estimated Emission Reductions over the crediting period
31,480 (4799) and 26,760 (4613) tonnes CO2e
Lead Partner
Project Developer: Manna Energy Limited (MEL), an Isle of Man, UK company registered in Rwanda.
Project Purchaser: Swedish Energy Agency
UNFCCC Project 4799 web page >
UNFCCC Project 4613 web page >