Sanitation photo exhibit in Rwanda: a story of determination, resilience, and hope

Access to sanitation: an enabler of greater hopes and opportunities

Umutakwasuku is a black & white visual storytelling project by Eric Murinzi, a Rwandan photographer and storyteller based in Kigali. The project documents the human impact of water and sanitation in Rwanda, specifically the areas where SNV in Rwanda implemented its water and sanitation programmes.

Origins of the word

Umutakwasuku is derived from the Kinyarwanda words Gutaka and Isuku. Gutaka means decorating/innovating something or somewhere to make it better and beautiful. Isuku means cleanliness.

The concept

Umutakwasuku celebrates the many people behind improvements in community access to sanitation. According to Eric, it has often been the case that ‘their hard work and messages get lost in this very colourful world.’ In Umutakwasuku, Eric tells the backstory of his subjects in black and white. He explains, ‘the black tones represent people’s courage, determination, and resilience. The white shows the light and hope of each person for a better future.’

Watch two-minute video on the launch of the Umutakwasuku exhibit in Kigali, Rwanda.

Photo exhibit at the Kigali library

‘When you work in sanitation, the problem is we always talk about numbers… and that’s not very relatable to most people. I think, the minute that you put a face to those numbers, people take more notice.’ – Megan Ritchie, SNV Managing Director for Countries and WASH

The Umutakwasuku photo exhibit opened at the Kigali library last 29 October 2021. Attended by 50 people, the opening was hosted by SNV in Rwanda’s Country Director, Bernie Chaves. Bernie was joined by Megan Ritchie and Eric Murinzi.

According to Bernie, the choice for the Kigali library was made to facilitate public access to these stories of transformation. He added, ‘People can come here and see their stories, experience them first-hand, and really have an understanding about what toilets can do for someone in terms of the impact that these can have in their lives.’

More information
1 Umutakwasuku was hosted at the Kigali library for seven days. Umutakwasuku is now on display at the Kigali Center for Photography.
2 Latest contributions by SNV in Rwanda’s water and sanitation sector were made possible by the USAID-supported Isuku Iwacu and the Gikuriro programmes.
3 For more information about SNV’s ongoing water, sanitation, and hygiene work, contact Antoinette Kome, SNV’s Global Sector Head for WASH, by email.