15. Oct. 2021
October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Hand hygiene is a cost-effective way to ward off infectious diseases, prevent deaths and prepare for future pandemics.  Access to potable water is a key ingredient in public health and a no regrets investment.

JEAN CLAUDE SERWENDA is Doctor in charge of the SIGU health center in northern Burundi

JEAN CLAUDE SERWENDA is Doctor in charge of the SIGU health center in northern Burundi. Photo: Fairpicture/Fabrice Mbonankira

Jean-Claude Serwenda has been the doctor in charge since September 2020 at the Sigu health center, 41, married and father of a 7-year-old girl. Before the arrival of the Foundation’s water project in his locality, many diseases were observed linked to the use of non-potable water.

"At one point, people were hit by a cholera epidemic because having no other choice, they used the water of Lake Rweru for all their daily needs. Those who could, got drinking water only to drink a few kilometers from the locality (4 km), for the sum of 500 Buruindian Francs (=22 eurocent) for a can of 20 litres."
Jean-Claude Serwenda, Doctor in charge, Sigu Health Center

According to Jean-Claude, women suffer miscarriages in his locality, mainly due to lack of hygiene caused by the use of non-potable water. His own wife also had 2 miscarriages before the arrival of her daughter.

One of Jean-Claude’s patients, an 18-year-old married woman also had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy.

“She used the lake water daily for all the daily water needs of the matrimonial home and got sick, she ended up losing her baby, “ the doctor explains .

Today, she is pregnant again, she no longer has any problem obtaining drinking water from the water kiosk which is located a few meters from her home.

"Without proper hand hygiene, healthcare is unsafe, lives risk being lost and economies suffer."

Since the birth of the water project, the inhabitants of the locality of SIGU have been delighted, especially the SIGU Health Center. Emmanuel Ntamugabumwe , laboratory doctor testifies:

“I need potable water to do my job. It was very difficult and very expensive for the center to obtain drinking water, so I would like to thank everyone who made this project possible.”

Sigu Health Center was able to reduce the rate of diseases linked to the use of non-potable water and save money to obtain potable water thanks to the water project.

Doctor washing hands at Sigu Health Center

The water project has remarkably improved health and hygiene in Sigu community. Photo: Fairpicture/Fabrice Mbonankira

Did you know?

  • 2.3 billion people do not have access to basic hygiene facilities. JMP 2021
  • One in three healthcare facilities worldwide do not have handwashing facilities. (WHO 2020)
  • Almost half of healthcare facilities in least developed countries lack basic water services. (WHO 2020)
  • 1.8 billion people are at higher risk of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases because they use or work in a healthcare facility which lacks basic water services. (WHO 2020)

You can find more stories about our water projects in the 2020 Annual Review.

Water and Sustainable Development

Togeter with its partners, the Foundation improves access to clean drinking water and sanitation for the world's poorest.