Environmental Education, Training and Clean Water in Burundi

Drinking Water in Burundi

The WHO estimates that about 884 million people have no access to clean drinking water, even though the UNO had declared water to be a human right in 2010. Burundi is one example of a country in which the drinking water situation is everything but good.

Reliable studies from recent years have shown that less than 40% of the rural population and only 27% of schoolchildren have access to clean drinking water. As a consequence, diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea are very widespread. Added to this is the fact that long journeys must often be undertaken to reach the water sources – time, which particularly in the case of young girls, is taken away from school and education.

The project concentrates on the two villages Kagwema and Rukaramu, north of Burundi's capital Bujumbura. These regions are two of the neediest areas of the country with regard to the availability of drinking water. Together with the environmental organisation Biraturaba in Burundi and the water experts Pureflow from Kenya, the Global Nature Fund (GNF) with the help of Sika is enabling around 5,000 people, particularly children, to access clean drinking water, and is carrying out environmental education measures on the management of natural resources and renewable energy.

Groundwater Drilling

The groundwater drilling is overseen by the Kenyan water expert David Maina. At both project sites, the drinking water supply will be secured through drilling new boreholes and providing access to groundwater. The drilling has been carried out by the local specialist company, ROBUCO. To ensure that the water extracted is of drinking water quality, low-maintenance drinking water filtration units, so-called Sky Hydrants, were installed with the help of the Kenyan water experts Pureflow.

Solar Pumps

As is the case in many regions of Africa, including the project areas, only a very unreliable electricity supply is available. The boreholes were therefore equipped with a solar pump which provides water independently of a mains electricity grid, and without the use of environmentally harmful Diesel generators.

A water kiosk was erected at both sites, it is a brick building which serves to protect the water filters and the technical equipment. The kiosk is fitted out with a water storage tank and a water tap, from which the drinking water is supplied for a small fee.

Response from the people

According to the Project Leader, Emmanuel Nshimirimana, support from the public is increasing continually with the successful advancement of the project. News of the discovery of water in Kagwema has even led to massive crowding, as hundreds of people came to fetch water in a very short space of time. This incident shows how important a secure supply of drinking water is, particularly in the rural regions of Burundi.

Environmental Education and Training Measures

As part of the project, a number of informational events on environmental training, hygiene and sustainability took place. Workshops provide information to civic leaders, school heads and teachers on the considerate use of natural resources and on forms of renewable energy. Moreover, the workshops are intended to bring about increased awareness of problems relating to water and hygiene.

Alongside the environmental education measures, local technicians will be trained how to maintain the equipment, including after completion of the project. This aspect of knowledge transfer is an important part of the approach “help to help yourself”. The technicians receive an expense allowance for the duration of the project and during the training phase. After completion of the project they are financed out of the income from the water supply.

To ensure a smooth operation of the wells, so-called water committees have been set up on location that administer the income and use it for maintenance, repair and buying spare parts.