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Promoting local solutions for national health in Rwanda

© UNICEF/Rwanda/2010/Williams
Men from the Pottery Cooperative dance amongst the ceramic pots in Kigali, Rwanda.

By Alexandra Williams

KIGALI, Rwanda, 4 February 2011 -  On an overcast Kigali morning, amongst an impressive collection of hundreds of ceramic pots, an excited crowd has gathered to celebrate the launch of the Kigali Potters Cooperative; a ‘safe water’ pilot community project, whose aim is to transform the health of the community, as well as stimulate economic growth by training local potters in the production of ceramic water filters.

Targeting those ‘at risk’

In association with the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, 45 potters – both men and women - are being taught how to produce and market the filters, enabling unsafe water to be treated and filtered at home. This will finally make inexpensive filters available to the most ‘at risk’ communities, who often collect water from unsafe sources.

© UNICEF/Rwanda/2010/Williams
A kiln used by the cooperative to fire the ceramic water filters.

In Rwanda, 80 per cent of all diseases that affect the population are waterborne; diarrhea alone contributes to 19 per cent of all deaths of children under five.

Learning new skills

Dressed in colorful clothes to match the festive attitude, Alphonsine is a member of the Potters Cooperative.

Speaking effusively about the project, Alphonsine says:

© UNICEF/Rwanda/2010/Williams
Alphonsine (center) poses with two fellow members of the Potters Cooperative.

“We are happy that the cooperative has a new product and we will learn new skills. It is wonderful to be a part of something that can improve the lives and health of people around us. I usually collect water from marsh land in this neighborhood but it is not always safe to drink and sometimes my family gets sick. It makes me happy that I will be able to produce a filter which will protect me and the community from diseases.”

UNICEF provides support

UNICEF, as part of a larger programme supported by the UN in Rwanda, has been supporting the Potters Cooperative, through a generous grant of  $200,000 from the Government of the Netherlands.
After a month-long training, the Potters will be able to produce 1,000 filters a month benefitting 12,000 households a year.



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