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Burundi: ICRC upgrades water supply system serving 20,000

08-10-2009 News Release 09/204

Bujumbura (ICRC) – Some 20,000 inhabitants of Kamuna, Bukemba, Kabanga and Gihofi, in the province of Rutana in south-eastern Burundi, now have access to ample quantities of drinking water thanks to work carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in cooperation with the country's rural-area water and energy board.

After 18 months of rebuilding and developing existing infrastructure, the revamped water supply system was inaugurated today in the presence of the local authorities and handed over to the people who will be using it.

" For many years, no clean drinking water was available in these towns and people had to go long distances on foot to obtain it, " said Luc Soenen, an ICRC engineer based in Burundi. " The work just completed means that they'll have adequate supplies near their homes. "

The crisis that has gripped Burundi since 1993 has reduced the country's capacity to produce drinking water by over 40%. According to a survey carried out in 2007 and 2008 by the Ministry of Water, Energy and Mines in cooperation with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), less than one person in two (47%) in the country as a whole has access to clean drinking water (77% of the population in cities but only 43% in rural areas). Improved access to drinking water boosts human development and protects people against diseases associated with unsafe water and poor sanitation, such as cholera and bacillary dysentery, which cause many deaths.

At the inauguration ceremony the ICRC donated a large stockpile of pipes and other hydraulic equipment, various devices, and plumbing kits containing spare parts and tools to the community water boards to facilitate maintenance.

  For further information, please contact:
  Valery Mbaoh Nana, ICRC Bujumbura, tel: +257 79 944 380 or +257 22 21 29 08 or +257 22 21 28 65