Summary: We are happy to report that a recent project in Burundi has protected over 21 spring-fed water sources, making them safe for human consumption. This has been accomplished with an extraordinary level of community buy-in. In fact, all unskilled labor (worth over $14,000) has been gladly supplied by the local villages. Moreover, many have come to faith through this work.
What Life Without Safe Water Means
It is hard for us to understand what it is like to live without access to clean drinking water. Every day we turn on the tap without wondering if the water we drink will make us or our children sick–or even kill them. Yet millions of people around the world have a much different relationship to water.
Aline Nshimirmana lives in Burundi and she described what it’s like to drink contaminated water: “For a long time, we were all continually suffering from worms, diarrhea, and spending a lot of money for medicines.”
So much money, in fact, that Aline could not purchase clothes, buy food, or send her children to school. Forced to repeatedly drink water teaming with parasites, Aline and her family knew that living without safe water means much more than an occasional stomach bug–it means malnourishment, uneducated children, wasted money, and wasted lives.
30% Without Clean Water
Burundi is a small nation in East Africa plagued by violence and poverty. After the assassination of the country’s first democratically elected president in 1993, the people of Burundi were plunged into a twelve year period of bloodshed fueled by tribal conflict.
The civil war left 200,000 dead, hundreds of thousands displaced, and reduced the national infrastructure to shambles. Rural poverty increased by 80%–and nearly 30% of the population is now forced to drink unsafe ground water from lakes, rivers, and swamps.
In Burundi, scarcity of water is not the problem. Rather, it is access to CLEAN water that poses such a huge–and deadly–challenge.
ARDF Offers Water and Hope
The Anglican Diocese of Buye in northern Burundi has developed an unusual, but surprisingly effective method of providing clean water to their local communities. Instead of digging wells, they simply protect naturally occurring springs so that the water becomes safe to drink.
With ARDF funding, the church is in the process of protecting 30 springs that will provide clean water for thousands. 21 springs have already been protected and local residents are receiving safe water to drink after only six months of work.
The impact has been significant: “I really thank God and the church for this constructed spring,” said a woman name Consolatte who lives in a village with an improved spring. “By getting clean water from here, my family is prevented from dysentery and worms, so our income which was [previously] spent for medical care will be saved for household use. I pray God to bless all people who contributed for this work.”
Extraordinary Community Partnership
The community is so enthusiastic about the project that they are providing all non-technical labor on a volunteer basis. Moreover, according to a recent progress report, “the beneficiaries [of the project] were very happy to hear that the project was funded, and they were once again committed to collect local materials for the construction work. Therefore, the population started collecting stones to be used in improving 30 springs as planned.”
Community members have also put in place 10 member committees to oversee the on-going maintenance of the springs and to teach hygiene to local residents. The committee members will be trained through ARDF funding and will be strategically made up of both men and women in order to promote gender equality.
Local involvement of this kind leads to long-lasting empowerment and life transformation for local communities, instead of dependency. By working through established local Anglican churches in close cooperation with local communities and government ARDF is able to ensure the sustainability and impact of each project.
Even more exciting, this holistic project has already resulted in a more positive view of the church among local residents, and many new believers attending local anglican churches.