RWANDA: New Sanitation, Water Tank for Primary School Helps Provide Proper Hygiene, Safe Drinking Water for Students
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in the community of Rukago, in the city of Kigali, the capital and largest city of Rwanda, just completed a water and sanitation project for the local Salesian school. The project was funded by Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and provided eight new toilets and a repair on a water tank for clean drinking water for the students.
In the Rukago community, Salesian missionaries operate primary schools, a vocational school and a parish. One of the primary school provides education to a large population of poor children from the local community. The school was in desperate need of new sanitation and safe drinking water. Prior to the repair to the water tank, students had to walk more than a mile to collect water from a hill in a swampy area.
Sanitation was also a concern for the students. The construction project for the new toilets consisted of digging the pit, purchase of materials, construction of the beam and walls, and roofing. The final stage was the fixing of the doors and painting.
“This project has had a great impact for our students now that they have access to better sanitation and water for washing their hands, proper hygiene and safe drinking water,” says Father Jean Paul Ruriho, PDO director of Salesians of Don Bosco Africa of the Great Lakes. “We expect this project will reduce the number of children who become sick due to lack of proper hygiene and safe water.”
Salesian missionaries also expect that this new project will help the families of the children save on medical expenses for treating children who develop water related diseases and illness due to contaminated water. With these new improvements, children now have better access to safe water and can turn their attention and focus to their studies.
According to UN-Water, the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism on all freshwater related issues, 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity, 768 million people lack access to improved water sources and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation, worldwide. For those who have no access to clean water, water related disease is common with more than 840,000 people dying each year from water related diseases.
In addition, women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households, and globally, spend 140 million hours a day collecting water. Children in these communities are forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water—water that often proves contaminated, and seriously sickens those who consume it. Many others are unable to attend school regularly because they must spend time searching for distant wells.
In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, has made building wells and supplying fresh, clean water, a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.
“Water is essential for life,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions. “From helping to ensure our communities have access to clean water for drinking and agriculture to helping build a hydro-electric power station, Salesian missionaries working in 132 countries around the globe are always looking to expand their services to meet the needs of the poor youth and families they serve.”
Salesian Missions has launched a special campaign to raise money for its Clean Water Initiative which supports water projects like this one around the globe.
Rwanda has made remarkable progress since the 1994 genocide in the country, particularly in providing education and health services to the poor, according to UNICEF. However, with high rates of poverty, there is still much to be done. Close to 57 percent of the country’s population of 10 million live below the poverty line and for those under the age of 18, the poverty rate increases to more than 60 percent. UNICEF notes that subsistence farmers, households headed by youth and those without assets and adequate household resources remain the poorest and the most vulnerable to worsening poverty and the effects of natural disasters, food insecurity and economic crises.
With half of Rwanda’s population under the age of 18, lack of educational opportunities is a concern. Half of all children who enroll in primary school don’t finish and go on to face a future of unemployment or employment at low-paying jobs. In addition, almost four percent of children aged five to 14 are working in domestic service or other jobs instead of going to school.
Salesians have been working in Rwanda for many years to provide educational opportunities to poor youth. They operate primary, secondary and vocational schools throughout the country as well as offer recreational activities, English language classes and agricultural programs.
UNICEF – Rwanda