Safe water for students and residents of Walungu
Access to safe drinking water is a fundamental right and a prerequisite for realizing several other human rights.
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When the recess bell rings at the Chirhavanyi Primary School in Walungu in the South Kivu province, students can play in peace without asking themselves whether they will have water to wash their hands or to use the bathrooms. Last year, UNICEF connected the school to a supply of safe drinking water and installed hygienic toilets.
“Before, there wasn’t any water and we didn’t wash our hands until we got home,” admits Asifiwe, 14 years old. To have water at school, students had to walk for hours to obtain water and bring it back to school. Students and teachers were exposed to an increased risk of transmitting diseases, and the lack of water was negatively affecting school results.
“Today, my classmates and I wash our hands and the school is very clean,” explains Asifiwe. With the help of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, UNICEF reinforced access to water, hygiene and sanitation in 60 primary schools and 35 health structures in the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.
At the Izenge Health Centre, access to safe drinking water has considerably improved the daily lives of healthcare personnel, patients and their families. “Before this water source was installed, I had to leave my child alone to go and find water far from the health centre,” recalls Chinama while doing the dishes a few metres from the bedroom of her 5-year-old daughter, Naweza.
In 200 villages in the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, 44,000 families have access to safe drinking water and have been informed about the importance of hygiene, sanitation, and correct handwashing techniques. “Before, we had to travel for long distances in order to have water,” explains Bahati, a young mother of 4 children.
UNICEF, the WFP and the FAO are working together to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities thanks to the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). UNICEF focuses on the prevention and treatment of malnutrition; access to water, hygiene and sanitation; learning for peace; and supporting young people to establish revenue-generating activities.