A LEADER’S DREAM FOR CLEAN WATER
Jean De Dieu Bamwinegwire is a proud leader. When he speaks, his words are enlightened by the pride of seeing his neighbours able to access clean water just a few metres from their homes. In the village that he heads in Gicumbi District, North of Rwanda, people are happy that, after many decades, they now enjoy reliable access to clean water.
In this border community that sits just a few miles from Rwanda’s northern border with Uganda, piped water points were built as a result of the highly ambitious collaborative program between Water For People, the District Authority and the central government to bring clean water to all the population of the district: The Gicumbi WASH Program. This program, started in 2016, has brought clean water to thousands of people throughout communities, schools, and health facilities.
Bamwinegwire’s rural village is one of the 234 communities that have now been served ever since the Gicumbi WASH Program was initiated. Since late 2021, people in this village fetch water whenever they need to on water taps installed across, according to Baningwire, who also manages one of the waterpoints built about ten metres from his family home.
Before, people in this village used to fetch water in a nearby swamp, Bamwinegwire says. Growing up in this rural community, Bamwinegwire remembers carrying jerrycans to fetch water in the swamp. Never did he think he would grow to see clan water flowing through his community and its neighbourhoods, he notes.
"That water was dirty and contaminated. It exposed us to water borne diseases. Often people fell sick due to using dirty water", Bamwinegwire remembers.
Students would sometimes miss lessons while mothers lost time searching water, he remembers, but all that changed when the piped water arrived in the village.
"Now we get clean water from taps just a few meters from our homes", he says, as he fills a jerrycan with clean water from the water tap he manages. "This is a source of happiness and pride. We are better off as a community," he says with a deep smile.
"Hygiene has improved throughout our community; incidences of waterborne diseases have reduced and people are cleaner. It is wonderful how water brought changes to our community,’ he notes.
As a leader, Bamwinegwire is working with his community to ensure that water continues to flow.
"Our role as a community is to ensure that our children and great-grandchildren will have the chance to use clean water. And for that we are working as a community to protect the water sources and facilities so that they can last to serve future generations," Bamwinegwire says. "This is a shared responsibility, and we are committed to that."
"[Having safe water in our community] is a source of happiness and pride. We are better off as a community" – Bamwinegwire , a Community leader in Gicumbi District