How Marcelline’s work in building a water storage tank allows her to provide for her children

As part of the Masake-Bona Water Supply Reinforcement Project, UNICEF has built a 500,000-litre water storage tank in the Isare commune, Bujumbura Rural Province.

Elisa Revert Santamaría

Marcelline DUSHIMIRIMANA, a 36-year-old woman, heard from her neighbors that a water storage tank was to be built near her house and she asked the enterprise’s workers on the site for a job. She has now been working as an auxiliary worker for 2 months, July and August 2022, the time needed for the construction of the tank. Until September, she was still on site doing the finishing works with other workers.

This water storage tank, built by UNICEF, has a capacity of 500,000 liters of water (500 m3), and will reach a total of 37 water points, which means a total of 2,525 households in the Bujumbura Rural province will be served, including the following localities: Gahahe (871), Gasenyi (352), Gatunguru (687), Karama (308) and part of Bujumbura Marie, Kuwinterekwa (307). Other localities as Mbirira, Gishingano and Remba will also benefit from this 500 m3 storage tank.

Next to the water storage tank, there is a small house where 2 small children are peeping out from the shade. Marcelline comes to work today, as she does every day, with two of her 6 children, Jackson and Fulgence, aged 2 and 4, because they are not yet old enough to go to school: “I live nearby, in Bukayira, I come to the site and back home on foot, which takes me about 30 minutes, 15 minutes to go and 15 minutes to go back”.

As an auxiliary worker, Marcelline earns 7 000 BIF, approximately $ 3.50, per day, which is a little lighter than that of a worker. Her job consists of tasks like carrying materials or bringing water. Marcelline says she works for her family and spends most of her salary on her children’s welfare: “With the salary I earn in this job, I pay for my children’s food, basic necessities such as soap, I also pay for school and the necessary materials for my children enrolled in secondary school (for those in primary school, schooling is free)”, she explains.

The building of this water storage tank has not only generated income for Marcelline, but also brings other advantages to her daily life: “I used to have to collect water about 3 km away from my house with Jackson on my back and my two other older children, aged 18 and 14. I had to walk 3 km to go and 3 km to come back at home, which is 6 km in total and which took me about 2 hours of walking. In addition, when I go to the source, I had to queue and wait, which wasted even more my time.”

Marcelline had to make this walk twice a day, morning and evening, carrying a 20-litre container of water and her children a 5-litre bottle each, to a get a total of 30 liters per trek. In addition, with the high temperature, more water is needed for hygiene, which makes it essential to make the 2 trips per day to bring home a total of 60 liters of water per day.

“Now the tank is next to my home, it takes me about 15 minutes to walk there, I don’t have to stand in queues or wait to get water, I can come whenever I want with or without my children. Besides, it’s free water, you don’t have to pay for it”, she says relieved.

It should be noted that the cost of living in Bujumbura Rural is very similar to that in the capital. Because of their proximity, prices are almost the same. Therefore, inhabitants from Bujumbura Rural need extra income to survive, and the availability of free water now makes life much easier.

A total of 50 workers, including 20 women, have been involved in the construction of the tank. Women usually support the workers.

UNICEF’s partner, “Agence Burundaise de l’Hydraulique de l’Assainissement en Milieu Rural” (AHAMR), has another ongoing project with the tank construction company to build another water tank which will generate 40 liters of water per second. Thanks to this new project, Marcelline and her colleagues may have the chance to be rehired.

Source: UN Children’s Fund

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