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Rwanda: water for survival

17-05-1995 News Release 20

In Rwanda's 13 main prisons, which currently house more than 36,000 detainees (an estimated 7,000 more are being held in temporary places of detention), the ICRC is working against all odds to ensure that every individual receives at least a minimum amount of drinking water. ICRC sanitary engineers have increased the number of toilets and built new septic tanks. The water thus provided and the maintenance of sanitary facilities have for the time being prevented the situation from deteriorating even further. The possibility of a disaster still remains, however: should a water-line break, ICRC engineers would find it practically impossible to repair it, owing to the extreme overcrowding in some of the prisons. New places of detention need to be built as a matter of urgency in order to resolve this critical problem.

 Red Cross provides 80% of population's water supply  

Even before last year's war was over, the ICRC had begun restoring water supply systems in many cities and towns, including Kigali and Gisenyi. It also set up emergency water supplies in camps housing displaced persons within Rwanda, as well as in camps beyond the country's borders. These activities remain vital: an ICRC shipment of 500 tonnes of aluminium sulphate and chlorine has enabled the Rwandan water authorities to ensure that urban populations will have drinking water for at least another six months.

The ICRC's programmes, run jointly with the American, Australian and Swedish Red Cross Societies, are attempting to provide the same type of relief to an estimated 210,000 people living in rural areas in the Kibuye, Ruhengeri and Gi senyi districts. Their work consists in rehabilitating water sources, rerouting pipelines, replacing valves and broken pipes and repairing reservoirs.