Burundi, or to give its official name, the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of Southeast Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It is also sometimes considered part of Central Africa. Burundi's capital is Bujumbura. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.
One of the five poorest countries
Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world and has one of the lowest per capita GDPs of any nation in the world. The country has suffered from warfare, corruption and poor accessibility to education. Burundi is densely populated and has witnessed substantial emigration as young people seek opportunities elsewhere. The DHL Global Connectedness Index ranks Burundi as the least globalized of 140 surveyed countries.
884 million people do not have access to drinking water
As important as eating, or even more important, is drinking. The WHO estimates that about 884 million people have no access to clean drinking water, even though the UN had declared water to be a human right in 2010. Reliable studies from recent years have shown that less than 40% of the rural population and only 27% of schoolchildren cannot get clean water.
As a consequence, diseases such as cholera and diarrhea 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.
Building up drinking facility for 5,000 people
Sika undertook a project which concentrates on the villages of Kagwema and Rukaramu, north of Burundi's capital Bujumbura. These regions are two of the country’s neediest areas in terms of drinking water availability. Together with the environmental organization Biraturaba in Burundi and water experts Pureflow from Kenya, the Global Nature Fund (GNF) – with Sika’s help – is enabling access to clean drinking water for around 5,000 people, particularly children. It is also organizing environmental training on the management of natural resources and renewable energy.
Groundwater drilling without electricity
Groundwater drilling was overseen by Kenyan water expert David Maina. At both project sites, the drinking water supply is to be secured by drilling new boreholes and providing access to groundwater. As is the case in many regions of Africa, including the project areas, the electricity supply is very unreliable.
To get round this problem, the boreholes were equipped with a solar pump, allowing villagers to draw water independently of a mains electricity grid. Drinking water can also be obtained for a small fee from a local kiosk which has been fitted out with a water storage tank and water tap.
According to project leader Emmanuel Nshimirimana, public support is increasing continually as the project successfully advances. News of the discovery of water in Kagwema even led to massive crowding, as hundreds of people came to fetch water within a very short space of time. This incident shows how important a secure supply of drinking water is, especially in the rural regions of Burundi.
Environmental training in hygiene and sustainability
As part of the project, a number of information events were staged, dealing with environmental training, hygiene and sustainability. Workshops provide information to civic leaders, school heads and teachers on the considerate use of natural resources and on forms of renewable energy.
Moreover, these workshops are intended to bring about increased awareness of problems relating to water and hygiene. Alongside the environmental education measures, local technicians are to be trained to maintain the equipment, including after completion of the project.