CO2balance began its Rwanda Safe Water projects in 2014 and operates in the rural Districts of Gatsibo and Kayonza in the Eastern Province. The water infrastructure in Rwanda has greatly improved in recent years, but 25% of the population still do not have access to clean water and over 900 children under 5 die from diarrhoea every year.
The majority of households in rural areas of Gatsibo and Kayonza collect water from unsafe sources, such as rivers or lakes. The water is either boiled with firewood to make it safe for consumption, which emits CO2, causes deforestation and requires women and children to spend hours collecting firewood, or the unsafe water is consumed without treatment, which can spread waterborne diseases.
CO2balance’s Rwanda Safe Water projects rehabilitates broken-down boreholes which are either too expensive or too technical for the local communities to repair. Boreholes provide a source of safe and reliable water, unaffected by seasonal rains and are generally in a more convenient location than the unprotected sources.
As the boreholes provide a safe water source, families no longer need to boil the water as a treatment method, significantly reducing firewood use and carbon emissions. Families who do not have the means to buy or time to collect firewood no longer have to risk their health by consuming unsafe water. The provision of safe water lowers cases of diarrhoea and other waterborne illnesses.
The burden of collecting water and firewood disproportionately falls on women and children. The borehole removes the need to collect firewood for boiling and reduces the time spent collecting water. Without the borehole women and children may have to walk miles to fetch water as availability from unsafe sources may alter depending on seasons. The task can be dangerous when fetching water from remote places as the collector may be vulnerable or risk attack from animals.
The reliable source of safe water gives households more time to spend on income generating activities, can reduce money spent on firewood and allows children more time to focus on their education.