BeyGood4Burundi & UNICEF respond to water scarcity in Burundi
Improving Access to Potable Water in Vulnerable Provinces of Burundi
Rutana & Ruyigi, Burundi - In countries like Burundi, nearly half of the population lacks access to clean, safe drinking water and this situation remains a big challenge particularly for households in rural areas. The lack of drinking water or the difficulty to access it are the primordial causes of health problems among children under 5 years of age who are prone to water-borne diseases and malnutrition.
Jacqueline, Jeanine, Rose and Jean Bosco were like the thousands of Burundian people who were daily exposed to deadly diseases, mainly due to the lack of access to safe water.
The construction and/or rehabilitation of water infrastructures in Cankuzo, Rutana and Ruyigi provinces thanks to BeyGood4Burundi project have improved access to safe water for 31,586 people in rural Burundi, including around 15,800 children, by the end of 2018.
Now that children have access to safe water close to home, they are not only healthier, but have more time to go to school, play with friends and enjoy their childhood. Families are well-off and no longer have to spend their humble revenues on medication, and mothers have more time to consecrate to income-generating activities.
‘’Before the BeyGood4Burundi project, most Sesa Maragarazi’s households fetched for water in five stagnant puddles that disappeared during the dry season. Other households fetched for water in the Rumpungu river. To reach the nearest built-in water point, Sesa Maragarazi’s community members needed to walk for around 3 miles every day’’
WALKING HOURS FOR WATER
Ms. Jacqueline Manirambona is the chief of Sesa Maragarazi sub-hill in Giharo town in Rutana Province where more than 150 households live. She was elected to this position by her community for her charitable deeds. Like her husband, she is a farmer and a mother of four, she adopted three orphan children, despite her very limited financial means. The Sesa Maragarazi community has reported three cases of child deaths after falling into pits while searching for water.
SCARCE AND UNEQUAL ACCESS TO WATER
The lack or limited access to clean, safe drinking water is a source of various health problems among households of rural Burundi and contributes to aggravating malnutrition. In her quality of chief of the sub-hill of Ruveri, Kinyinya town (Ruyigi Province, Burundi) that serves 2,500 households, Floride is also a ''Mamam Lumiere'' (light mother) who has transformed her place into a House of Learning and Nutritional Rehabilitation (FARN).
‘’I used to find enormous difficulties in finding safe water when mothers brought in their malnourished children for treatment’’
BG4B & UNICEF IMPROVE ACCESS TO SAFE DRINKING WATER FOR HOUSEHOLDS
- WATER SAVES LIVES AND KEEPS GIRLS IN SCHOOL
Like many young Burundian girls, children and mothers of hundreds of households, Rose and Jeanine used to be exposed to preventable diseases on a daily basis due to the lack of access to safe water, which can be deadly when women are pregnant or breastfeeding.
As the project's phase (1) ended, the Ngomante sub-hill has now a well. The time that Jeanine used to spend on bringing water home has tremendously diminished. She says: ‘’Now, I do not have to go as far as the nearby village anymore, the well is just 100 meters (0,06 miles) away from my house, and it takes me 10 minutes to reach it. I can now do my homework and I even have more time to spend on my hobby: reading’’. Jeanine says that her grades at school have greatly improved since the well became operational. Today, the Mugaruro well serves 480 households.
Rose shares the same impressions and considers that her life has greatly improved since the Karindo II well was constructed. ‘’With the well, I have enough water to drink and make food, I also can bring more water when I want. The well is located within 10 minutes reach from my house. This has made my life easier and my family healthier’’, Rose happily explains. Both Kaindo I and Karindo II (Kinyinya town, Ruyigi province) wells serve 412 households.
Since September 2018, beneficiaries have noticed a net improvement in their children’s health and in their nutrition. Indeed, diseases that are due to the use of unsafe water and to nutritional insufficiency have rarely occurred thanks to clean water. Floride explains: ‘’Our community's children suffer less and less from diarrhoea because the people know now how to properly conserve water at home. They are also spending less money on medication and saving for other needs of households’’.
WATER BRINGS THE COMMUNITY TOGETHER
Constance Mpawenayo, the vice president of the Muratama well’s management committee asserts that everyone participates in managing and preserving the water point. The Muratama well in Rutana province serves 130 households. Constance says: ‘’ As a vice-president of the committee, my duties partially consist of managing the finances of the committee and to ensure that the beneficiaries nurture good relationships with the municipal water authority.’’ In order to properly carry out her work, she regularly follows up at least once every two days, and participates in raising awareness among the community on hygiene practices and how to mobilize resources to maintain the water infrastructures. The collected funds are kept at the level of the communal water board and they contribute to financing the water infrastructure's repairs when needed.
'' I monitor the households’ appreciation and ask for their recommendations and hopes on how to improve the service’s quality. Of course, there are some conflicts from time to time, and they are usually related to the non-compliance of some beneficiaries with hygiene rules and the protection of the infrastructure from eventual damaging acts. In case a complex conflict arises, I ask for the interference of the administration’s committee to solve it’’.
WATER EMPOWERS WOMEN
Through the BeyGood4Burundi project, sub-hill chiefs are learning to provide guidance to households on the management and the maintenance of water points. With this project, the Sesa Maragarazi sub-hill has benefited from the construction of 5 wells, while the Ruveri sub-hill has benefited from the implementation of 7 wells. Both locations have access to safe drinking water. There is a net improvement in the quality of life in this community as social cohesion, community participation and solidarity were reinforced around the management and maintenance of the water points; the health of children under the age of five has improved thanks to the decrease in the number of diarrhoea cases and other water-borne diseases; women are involved in the management of water infrastructures; and as for the safety of children, especially girls, has been strengthened since they do not have to walk long distances to bring water home.
Women like Rose have now more time to make a living thanks to income-generating activities such as making hand-weaving baskets and other traditional handcrafts. Before the well, the more time girls spent on fetching water, the less they had left to do their homework.
By the end of phase (1) of the BeyGood4Burundi project, water infrastructures – including 25 protected wells equipped with hand-pumps, 20 improved springs and 2 large water supply schemes – were constructed and/or rehabilitated and handed over to 84 beneficiary communities in the targeted provinces, directly benefiting around 31,586 people, including 15,800 children.