The struggle for water

The province of Kirundo in the north of Burundi used to be the most fertile area of the country thanks to its numerous lakes. In recent years almost half of the water has evaporated due to climate change and groundwater depletion. In addition, many people in the region still have no access to drinking water and rely on water from the lakes - with negative health consequences. To counter these issues, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) started the “Water for Life” project in which several groundwater wells are drilled and a distribution network with so-called water kiosks is established.


Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)


July 2021


Fabrice Mbonankira


Burundi, Kirundo


Water is becoming increasingly scarce

In Murambi in the region of Kirundo, Burundi, a new pumping well is drilled. Etienne Mujarugamba, the hill chief of Murambi, explains in an interview how the project progresses.
©Fabrice Mbonankira / NCA / Fairpicture

The pumping wells

The well projects not only have a positive impact on health. They also offer economic opportunities for various people in the communities. Pump operators like Sylvestre Mpawenayo (26) are responsible for operating the systems. The water kiosks in turn are run by independent entrepreneurs like Jean Baptiste Niyonyishu (26) and Alice Mutetiwabo (20). They get 60% of the earnings from the water sales. 


Dropping water prices

At the same time, the price of clean drinking water has dropped from an average of 400 Burundi Francs (about 25 US cents) to an average of 75 Burundi Francs (about 6 US cents), which makes it easier for the people to buy clean water. 

Fairpicture photographer Fabrice Mbonankira visited the project in July 2021 accompanied by the local NCA project manager. In addition to photography and video footage, he wrote four story outlines to support the communication staff in Norway.   

Macumi Nezia (70) is filling her canisters at a water kiosk. 
©Fabrice Mbonankira/NCA/Fairpicture


Before setting up this kiosk, we drew our water from Lake Rweru, which is not drinkable, but we had no other choice because it was the only close source of water available.

Macumi Nezia (70)


Sylvestre Mpawenayo (26), guard and operator of one of the pumping wells in Kubinaro, is turning on the solar powered water pumps. His new job gives him a welcome support for his family and allows him to invest in domestic animals for the household.
©Fabrice Mbonankira / NCA / Fairpicture

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