In Cibitoke, water is now accessible to all families with the support of the Japanese government

Difficulties in accessing drinking water, combined with unsanitary conditions and lack of hygiene, are the major causes of diarrhea, which leads to the death of thousands of children under the age of five every year

Akeza Labelle Bella (intern)
Women drawing water from the tap
UNICEF-Burundi/Labelle
10 June 2022

Nduwayezu Zita is a 41 year old married woman with five children who lives in Cibitoke, in the commune of Murwi, one of the communes in the region where the cholera epidemic and other waterborne diseases are endemic.

Difficulties in accessing drinking water, combined with unsanitary conditions and lack of hygiene, are the major causes of diarrhea, which leads to the death of thousands of children under the age of five every year.

‘’During all the years I lived here, we had a difficult life because of the water problems, our children were always getting sick because of waterborne diseases. At least once a month, we went to the hospital because of the dirty water we drank," says Zita.

Getting clean water was not easy for the people of this township because they had to travel five kilometers, which took them more than an hour. And the distance was not the only problem, once they reached the tap, they were asked to pay money and they also had to wait in a long queue, so to save time, they took water from the river.

Zita coming from the tap
UNICEF-Burundi/Labelle
Zita coming from the tap

River water indicates the presence of bacteria, heavy metals, or pesticides, which makes the water unfit for consumption.

Without access to clean water, many people are forced to rely on polluted, dirty, or infected water.

Before going to school, Zita could not ask her children to get water from the tap because it was far away, and they were late for school and the teacher would send them home.

‘’I couldn't do that to my children many times because I knew it was costing them a lot in their studies, so they would go to school without being able to shower or eat," Zita said. ''But thanks to UNICEF, we have been freed from this life, we have a tap 100 meters from our house where we can go and get water whenever we want and however, we want".

With great emotion, Zita explained the first day when they were told that water was available: "I remember the day when we were told that water was available here in our house, I was in the fields and I heard people shouting for water and I rushed to see what was happening because I didn't really understand that water was finally available in our community, we all danced that day full of joy because we understood immediately that our problems had just ended".

Zita happy to share water to drink with her children
UNICEF-Burundi/Labelle
Zita happy to share water to drink with her children

UNICEF has therefore implemented feasibility studies and mobilized resources for the implementation of the Cibitoke water supply project to give access to drinking water to the vulnerable populations of this area, and consequently to reduce the mortality of children who are very vulnerable to water-borne diseases thanks to funding from the government of Japan.

The water supply network serve 2 school of 2895 children, each school had a ramp of 6 taps along with one hospital with 200 hospital beds with a capacity to accommodate 1200 ambulant patients per month. At the Community level, a total of 13 standpipes were set up, serving more than 6000 people. The water supply network extends over 2 communes Murwi and Buganda of the Cibitoke province.

According to Zita, the advantages of the drinking water supply network are numerous. Women are relieved of the task of fetching water and can devote themselves to other family duties, children arrive at school.

‘’Now our community is clean, we cook with clean water, diseases have decreased, we have a tap near the house, children go to school clean, water is accessible to all. Thanks to the government of Japan and UNICEF, from the bottom of our hearts for the miraculous work they have implemented in our community’’.