The dream of a group of young Burundians who are producing chlorine locally is that everyone should have access to clean drinking water.
It all began in a laboratory in Cibitoke in the west of the country, at the headquarters of their NGO, Water For Development.
“Chlorine is made by chemical transformation, the electrolysis of salt water. We take salt and water and we stir it to have a homogeneous solution. Then we put in an apparatus that is used to produce the chlorine,” said Prosper Cishahayo, a chemist and head of chlorine production.
In a region where access to clean drinking water remains a significant problem, their project is literally a lifesaver.
It takes about two hours to produce the chlorine and then it is time for delivery and distribution to the various water points.
The founder of Water for Development, Olivier Ndayihimbaze, explained that a chlorine dispenser is installed next to a water point.
“When someone comes to draw water, they first dispense a few drops of carefully measured chlorine into the cans and then draw water in the normal way. After 30 minutes, the water is treated and protected against any further external recontamination.”
Today, with over 30 chlorine dispensers installed near water sources and schools, more than 50,000 people have benefited from the initiative.
Beneficiaries are delighted”Our children no longer have bloated stomachs, there is no more diarrhoea. Today, it’s good, there’s been a positive change. We no longer get abdominal pain,” said Berthe Nikuza, one of the beneficiaries.
Burundi’s Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies said a quarter of children under the age of five suffer from illnesses related to dirty water, and diarrhoeal diseases are responsible for a third of their deaths.
In 2019, German international development agency, GIZ, said 25 per cent of Burundi’s water sources were contaminated with bacteria, with this figure rising to 75 per cent at household level.