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Burundi: Water - the source of life

13-09-1995 News Release 37

Owing to the deliberate destruction of major water-supply networks during the internal conflict that has been raging in Burundi, 100,000 residents and displaced civilians on the Imbo plain north-west of Bujumbura have been without drinking water since mid-August. For security reasons, repairs to the damaged systems have been impossible. To make matters worse, the onset of the rainy season (September-October) has caused a resurgence of endemic diseases, such as cholera and dysentery, especially in an area on the outskirts of the capital.

In an effort to stem the spread of disease, the ICRC has been providing the population with drinking water over the last three weeks and has set up a mobile clinic. Some 50,000 litres of water are now being delivered to seven locations every day, and the programme will shortly be made more effective by the arrival of two mobile water purification units. Owing to the lack of security, however, the ICRC is unable to meet all the needs for drinking water in the region.

The ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict that access to drinking water is essential to survival, and under no circumstances should it be deliberately denied.