from OMEGA SSUUNA in Bujumbura, Burundi
BUJUMBURA, (CAJ News) – AFFLICTED by deadly conflict stemming from President Pierre Nkurunziza’s clinging to power at the expiry of his mandate over two years ago, Burundi woes are exacerbated by a severe drought putting the lives of millions of children at risk of death.
The shortage of water is lamented as a crisis for children.
The minors, mostly malnourished, are susceptible to unsafe water, further leaving them vulnerable to water borne diseases, which are among the leading causes of death in children under five.
The shortage of water also forces children to miss out on school to walk for long distances in search of wells.
The burden of fetching water, which falls excessively on girls, puts the young women at risk of sexual violations and kidnap along their journeys.
Cash-strapped humanitarian organisations are battling to cushion the children from such horrors.
Touched by the plight of the children in the most remote areas of the volatile East African country, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, has intervened.
The global entertainer and humanitarian, mononymously known as Beyoncé, has teamed up with UNICEF through her BeyGOOD philanthropic arm to announce the launch of BEYGOOD4BURUNDI, a multi-year partnership to provide safe water to the most vulnerable children in Burundi.
The partnership will support programmes to improve water, sanitation and basic hygiene practices in the hardest-to-reach areas of the landlocked nation of 12 million people.
“Access to water is a fundamental right,” said Beyoncé (35), a mother of two daughters and a son aged between five.
“When you give children clean and safe water, you don’t just give them life, you give them health, an education, and a brighter future. I am committed to helping drive lasting solutions to the water crisis in Burundi,” said Beyoncé.
The first phase of the partnership between the multiple award-winning artist includes the construction of new wells equipped with hand pumps, hygiene education and the improvement of water and sanitation facilities in schools in four priority regions.
These are the Bukemba and Giharo in Rutana Province and Kinyinya and Nyabitsinda in Ruyigui Province both southeast of the country.
In these rural communities, children are chronically malnourished and more than 65 percent of the population use unsafe water sources.
Children and families have to walk long distances to water collection points, and even then the water access rate is extremely low.
Further announcements related to the initiative between the music superstar and the UN children’s agency will be made on November 20 when the world comes together to celebrate World Children’s Day.
Beyoncé’s philanthropic mission started in 2005 after the Hurricane Katrina left over 1 800 dead in the United States.
Ivy McGregor, Director of Philanthropy and Corporate Relations at Parkwood Entertainment, the American management and entertainment company Beyoncé founded in 2010, said BEYGOOD4BURUNDI is a continuation of the work the artist, her family and the company were doing to address water crises around the world.
McGregor recounted seeing for herself, during her visit to Burundi earlier this year, the plight of mothers and girls travelling long distances to carry water for their families.
“Today young girls in the ‘Heart of Africa’ are given the gift of hope for a brighter tomorrow through our multi-year partnership with Unicef and commitment to support safe water access solutions,” she said.
Caryl Stern, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unicef in United States, said addressing the global water crisis was one of the defining challenges faced by the children of Burundi.
“This unique partnership combines UNICEF’s decades of expertise in providing clean water to children in Burundi and around the world with the power and influence of the entertainment world to bring about social change. We are grateful to Beyoncé and BeyGOOD for joining forces with UNICEF, to highlight this critical issue to new audiences,” she said.
– CAJ News