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For almost 20 years, Pierrine Bagwaneza struggled to cope with the pressure of finding water for her family. Every morning, she would wake up early in the morning and walk for over an hour in search of water – water that was dirty and unsafe for human consumption.

On good days, Bagwaneza would be back home around 8 am – enough for her to complete other household activities. On bad days, however, she would stay at the stream until mid-day as she lined up behind a mass of people also looking for water. On those days, "I would come back extremely exhausted and it was hard for me to do anything else," she remembers.

Sometimes, the 41-year-old mother of nine failed to cook food for her children, not because she lacked food, but rather because there was no water to use. Her children would also occasionally miss school when no water was available to bathe in the morning, or when their school uniforms were dirty and there wasn’t water to wash them in time.

 "Water was all we needed to live better," she says. "The lack of safe water touched all aspects of our lives."

When news of efforts to bring safe water to her village spread, Bagwaneza knew her struggles were about to end. She volunteered to donate a piece of land where a community water tap would be constructed.

"Water presented a life-changing opportunity. By donating the land for a community water point, I knew I would be contributing to my entire community. All of us could access safe water nearby," Bagwaneza says.

"Land is a valuable possession, but nothing compares to safe water," she adds.

When water supply systems were completed, and her village was finally connected late last year, Bagwaneza was chosen to manage her village’s water tap.

Land is a valuable possession, but nothing compares to safe water

Pierrine Bagwaneza, resident, Kicukiro District

Bagwaneza’s village in Gatenga Sector in Kicukiro District was connected to safe water as part of the Reaching Everyone in Kicukiro District, a partnership between Water For People, Kicukiro District, and the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) to bring full water access to the district’s population. The partnership began in 2016 and was completed in October 2018. It has now brought access to safe water to over 77,000 people in eight sectors. 

Bagwaneza is currently responsible for ensuring her community has reliable access to safe water and spends her day at the public water tap selling water to her neighbors. When there are no water customers, you will find her in her adjacent boutique which she opened with her proceeds from selling water.

"On a good day, I can sell between 200 and 300 jerry cans of water," she says.

Each 20-liter jerrycan is sold at 20 Rwandan francs, bringing in money that Bagwaneza needs to sustain her family.  Part of the money is remitted to the national water authority, which is responsible for making repairs and replacements on the water supply systems.

"Money that I make from selling water helps me to pay school fees for my children, put food on table and meet other needs of my family," she says.

Bagwaneza’s wish is to see water flowing in her village uninterrupted forever. And she hopes with the new investments made in her district, this is a dream that has become a reality.

"Water creates opportunities for better life and that is why reliable access is the best gift you can ever receive," she says. "When you have water, everything becomes easy, sweet and beautiful."