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Rwanda, 18 May 2016: “My children get enough clean water for food, drinking, and washing”

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Park
Etienne, smiling, after fetching water with his family from the newly constructed water point.

By Jung Yuen Park

Nyabihu district, 18 May 2016 – “Now my children get clean water for food, drinking, and washing. Before we didn’t have enough water and had to use it only for cooking. Now we have enough water for all, and hygiene in my house has improved,” said Etienne Nishimwe, father of seven children in Kajebeshi village, Nyabihu district.

Etienne, who is the father of seven children, is happy with the newly constructed water point, which is located very close to his house in his village.

The water point in Kajebeshi is among the fruits of a partnership among the Government of the Netherlands, UNICEF Rwanda, and the Government of Rwanda, which was launched in 2009 with a focus on improving water and sanitation in targeted areas of the country. The project has contributed to improvements in child survival by increasing access to sustainable safe water and sanitation services and improving hygiene practices in four districts (Nyabihu, Rubavu, Musanze, and Burera, located in the Northern and Western Provinces) with low access to WASH resources. Families and schools now enjoy the benefits of access to clean water and improved hygiene and health.

Etienne’s eldest daughter, Emerence, is 16 years old; she would sometimes miss classes because she had to help her parents to fetch water. Now she does not need much time to walk to the nearest water point, however, and her father also helps to fetch water. “At school I like science and mathematics, and I want to become a doctor or a nurse to help other people when I grow up,” Emerence said. Now, with enough water, I can wash myself properly and help my younger siblings to wash as well.”

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Park
Etienne with three of his children and Phoibe, his village’s CHW, posing in front of his house.

Gedeon Musabyimana, a WASH Officer with UNICEF Rwanda, explained that, “Through the partnership with the Government of Rwanda, and with generous support from the Government of the Netherlands, UNICEF has been able to bring clean water access to some of the most remote villages in the country. Etienne’s family had to walk almost for hours to fetch water, and it was not even a sufficient quantity. But with the newly connected water point in his village, his family can now access water easily. During the rainy season, people use less water and they don’t need to access the water point as often; however, during the dry season, people come often and really depend on this water supply.”

The work of promoting hygiene and improving health does not end with the provision of clean water. Phoibe is a Community Health Worker who supports Kajebeshi village providing an integrated package of preventive and basic curative services right till the household level. Phoibe helped Etienne and his wife to access ante- and post-natal care for their seventh child. She is also the hygiene club leader in Kajebeshi, where she shares information and encourages the community about good hygiene and sanitation, family planning, and other health-related issues.

“We learned a lot about the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. Phoibe taught us how my wife should rest and do less physical work during the pregnancy and right after the birth. Now I care for the hygiene and health of my family,” said Etienne with a big smile.

The Government of the Netherlands WASH programme has brought smiles to Etienne and over half a million people by providing improved WASH services in the four low-WASH access districts using innovative, sustainable and cost–effective technologies.



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