Hydrogeology of Rwanda
This page has limited information and needs to be updated. If you have more information on the hydrogeology of Rwanda, please get in touch!
Dr Kirsty Upton and Brighid Ó Dochartaigh, British Geological Survey, UK
Please cite this page as: Upton & Ó Dochartaigh, 2016.
Bibliographic reference: Upton, K. & Ó Dochartaigh, B.É. 2016. Africa Groundwater Atlas: Hydrogeology of Rwanda. British Geological Survey. Accessed [date you accessed the information]. http://earthwise.bgs.ac.uk/index.php/Hydrogeology_of_Rwanda
Terms and conditions
|Estimated Population in 2013*||11,776,522|
|Rural Population (% of total) (2013)*||73.1%|
|Total Surface Area*||24,670 sq km|
|Agricultural Land (% of total area) (2012)*||75.3%|
|Border Countries||Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal (2013)*||150 Million cubic metres|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal for Agriculture (2013)*||68%|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal for Domestic Use (2013)*||24%|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal for Industry (2013)*||8%|
|Rural Population with Access to Improved Water Source (2012)*||68.3%|
|Urban Population with Access to Improved Water Source (2012)*||80.7%|
* Source: World Bank
These maps and graphs were developed from the CRU TS 3.21 dataset produced by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK. For more information see the climate resource page.
In Rwanda, rainfall data are collected by MeteoRwanda. More detailed information on rainfall at a catchment scale is described in the Rwanda Water Resources Master Plan (2014).
|Rwanda is divided into two major river basins: the Nile in the east and centre, and the Congo in the west. Both are shared with neighbouring countries.
Within the Nile and Congo basins in Rwanda, smaller river catchments include the Rusizi, Akanyaru and Akagera rivers (all shared with Burundi); the Akagera River (shared with Tanzania); the Muvumba River (shared with Uganda); and Lake Kivu and the Rusizi River (shared with the DRC). There are many smaller lakes, rivers and associated wetlands.
Nine Level 1 surface water catchments have been classified for Rwanda (see RNRA 2014, page 10).
Surface water resources, as other water resources in Rwanda, are managed by the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority-Integrated Water Resource Management Department (RNRA-IWRM).
Surface water monitoring is generally good for the large catchments, but station data often lack absolute topographic reference level; and discharge measurements are often absent or at best out of date. For small catchments, monitoring is less well established (RNRA 2014). Monitoring data are stored in the Rwanda Water Resources Information System (RWRIS). River and lake level and water quality monitoring data from selected monitoring stations can be provided by the RNRA-IWRM. Some information on surface water resources in Rwanda is described in the Rwanda Water Resources Master Plan (2014).
The geology map shows a simplified overview of geology at a national scale (see the Geology resource page for more details).
More information is available in the report UN (1988) (see References section, below).
Rocks in Rwanda are dominated by Mesoproterozoic metasediments, largely quartzites, sandstones, and shales of the Burundian Supergroup, which are locally intruded by granite.
There are four types of granite in the Kibaran Belt. In eastern Rwanda are the “older granites” along with granitic-gneisses and migmatites of Palaeoproterozoic age.
In the northwest and southwest are Neogene volcanics, ranging in age from Cenozoic to recent.
Alluvium and lake sediments of Quaternary age occur in parts of the Western Rift and along rivers and lakes. Significant outcrops of alluvial sediments occur in the Akagera River floodplain (shown on the map below as the line of Unconsolidated Aquifer along the eastern border of Rwanda). Smaller outcrops of alluvium are also present in river valleys across the rest of the country, but are too small to be shown on this map.
The hydrogeology map below shows a simplified overview of the type and productivity of the main aquifers at a national scale (see the Hydrogeology map resource page for more details).
Some information on the hydrogeology of Rwanda is available in the report United Nations (1988) (see References section, below).
Groundwater use and management
The Ministry of Environment and the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) have responsibility for managing water resources in Rwanda. The RNRA, and particularly its Integrated Water Resource Management Department
(RNRA-IWRM) is the institution with responsibility for monitoring groundwater resources.
A Rwanda Water Resources Master Plan (2014) contains detailed recommendations for future management of groundwater, including setting up and operating a groundwater monitoring network.
At present there is no systematic groundwater monitoring in Rwanda. Groundwater monitoring data (both levels and quality) are generally only collected during specific, temporary projects (RNRA 2014), such as the development of the Rwanda National Water Master plan, during which a few groundwater stations were monitored temporarily. Groundwater data collected will be stored in the Rwanda Water Resources Information System (RWRIS).
At the moment, therefore, there is not enough information to assess the groundwater resources in Rwanda in terms of total volume available, water levels, essential water quality parameters, or annual recharge assessments, interactions with surface water resources, or current abstraction and used water infiltration rates (RNRA 2014).
In 2005, groundwater was reported to account for 86% of safe drinking water supply in rural areas (Ministry of Natural Resources 2011). In the Eastern and parts of the Southern Province, most people depend on groundwater from boreholes. Extensive borehole drilling and shallow well construction have been done, mostly in the Eastern Province, since 1994. As of 2009, there were at least 400 boreholes and wells in various parts of the country (Ministry of Natural Resources 2011).
For further information about transboundary aquifers, please see the Transboundary aquifers resources page.
References with more information on the geology and hydrogeology of Rwanda may be accessed through the Africa Groundwater Literature Archive.
Information on Integrated Water Resource Management] in the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority
Return to the index pages
Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA). 2014. Consultancy services for development of Rwanda National Water Resources Master Plan. Tender Number 021/RNRA/2011-2012. Master Plan Report: Main Volume. Final Version May 2014. Prepared by SHER Ingénieurs-Conseils s.a.
Rwanda Ministry of Natural Resources. 2011. Water Resources Management Sub-Sector Strategic Plan (2011-2015).
United Nations. 1989. Groundwater in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa: Rwanda. United Nations Department of Technical Cooperation for Development.