Since a few months the center of Karuzi province is running out of water. The living conditions have worsened rapidly, since the beginning of the shortage. The local representatives have started some activities to improve the situation.– By J.Berchmans Siboniyo and J.Noel Manirakiza
According to Yvonne, a mother living in Nyamugari quarter also known as Mukigwati, the shortage began when the new hospital opened. She adds that not even one drop of rain has fallen since then. To get water, her homeboy has to hustle and elbow at the Gahonogo water source.
“Fortunately he is a strong boy otherwise we would not eat. Girls spend the whole day standing at the source to fill a jerry can of 20 liters. We don’t complain about the quality. The hospital will have so much to do in a few days if the situation persists, because we will catch diarrhea diseases. It’s by God’s protection that we’ll stay healthy”, she says.
The consequences of the water shortage are already manifest in the region. State employees with a modest income complain that life is now very difficult. “Our domestic situation obliges us to separate the household chores from fetching water. If we ask our homeboys to help in water fetching, they demand a higher salary that we can’t afford”, says Yvonne.
The same concerns are heard in the Kigoma site of displaced people. “We were accustomed to a difficult life, but now it is catastrophic. We cannot bear this life. You’ll have more luck asking for a beer than a cup of water in this place”, says Christophe, an inhabitant of the area.
Selling water, a new business born
At Buhiga commune center, rich people buy water from its new water vendors. A jerry can of 20 liters costs between Bif100 and BIF150, whereas a family of 4 members uses at least 2 jerry cans a day. At least BIF500 is added to the daily budget in a small family, as local people indicate. The water shortage has also affected the hotels and restaurants. “Before doing anything, all my staff members wake up early at about 4 a.m, to fetch water in streams or at the sources in the valley. We ask God to pardon us in advance for people who will fall ill because food we serve them”, regrets a woman who owns a restaurant in the locality. In the hotels, two buckets must be put in the room of the customer, one for washing, another for the toilet. “Our clients firstly ask us if we have water in the bathrooms. We lose many of them just because we don’t”, says a guest master at one hotel in Nyamugari quarter.
While hotels and restaurants suffer from the shortage, shops struggle to find enough space to store mineral water. One liter of Kinju and Akacu is sold at BIF1200. “It is better to miss other items than water these days,” says a shopkeeper. He reveals that his turnover has increased in the last two months just because of the shortage.
Richard Nzokizwanimana, the Governor of Karusi Province indicates that the shortage was caused by the dry season. He refutes the idea of some people who say that the water has been drained to the new hospital. However, he indicates that the problem will be over in few days. He affirms that there is a project of the Ministry of Energy and Mines through Regideso which is underway. “The first tasks were the sources’ identification and drilling. We have already identified three sources. The remaining task is to install one tank in the valley and another one at the center which will contain water for the quarters of the center.” Nevertheless, he says that there has not been any competition for the suppliers of the tanks yet.
The local representatives should do all they can to provide water to the local inhabitants before they fall victim to diseases related to poor sanitation, as was the case in other areas like Buterere and Rumonge.