Rotarians learn of clean water project in Burundi

Jean-Claude Mbazumutima of African Hope Services offered local Rotarians a look at efforts to bring a clean water project to a 1,600 student school in Burundi. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)




At the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Picton at Prince Edward Yacht Club, members and guests heard from Jean-Claude Mbazumutima from African Hope Services (AHS) about the Burundi School Water Project.

As stated on the website, Burundi is a tiny country in Central Africa with a population of 11.8 million that is bounded by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, Lake Tanganyika to the southwest and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west.

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world with 80 per cent dependent on subsistence farming.

Located about 55km east of Burundi’s capital Bujumbura is one of many rural schools in the country without access to water and basic sanitation.

The school has about 1,600 students but the nearest reliable source of water is about three km away and children have to bring their own water, which is difficult given the long distances many have to walk each day to get to and from school (up to sevem km each way) .

Toilets are also insufficient and inadequate, with only a handful of working pit latrines (without doors) for the pupils.  These conditions, coupled with poverty and malnutrition, result in hygienic diseases, high absenteeism (especially for females during menstrual period) and drop out.

Sanitation and hygiene remain the major health concern.

Mbazumutima, who was born and raised in Burundi in a modest family, grew up with the spirit of service. He has since travelled and lived in different countires in the Caribbean, Central America and Canada.

As a way to give back to his community, Mbazumutima co-founded AHS in 2010, and since then has been the president, development officer and one of the major donors to this charity.

“Getting water for a school in Burundi is not strange to me and really close to my heart. This is the school that raised me,” Mbazumutima said to Rotary. “And unfortunately, in the 30 years that I have left that school, conditions have not gotten any better.”

The community and school wishes to construct a water supply system to bring running water to the school. The system will include a 2.9 km pipe line, a 15 cubic metre storage tank, a filtration structure and water fountains.

The Rotary Club of Markham Sunrise, in conjunction with AHS, aims to raise money to fund the project.

“We started designing and doing the studies back in 2021,” stated Mbazumutima. “With our engineers we managed to find a source, and just finding a source took many months. We tested it and this is going to be about 2.9 kilometres away from the school. Good thing about it is it’s gravity fed, so there will be no need of high-tech people, no technical skills are going to be needed to operate it. Once we have it built up, it’s going to be easy to manage. We’re talking about close to 7,000 people who will directly benefit from this project.”

Mbazumutima grew up in Masango and went to the school before emigrating to Canada.

Most of his family still live in Masango.

“When we look at change, we look at the first necessity of a human being,”

Mbazumutima expressed. “We thought that you may want water and food at the same time but this time what we thought we could start with is water to drink.”

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For more information on AHS please visit their Facebook page