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Nyagatare: Walking 10km to access dirty marshland water
Published on 26-07-2016 - at 12:44' by Théophile Niyitegeka

Residents of Rwimiyaga sector in Nyagatare district have been hit hard with lack of access to safe water. So murky is the situation that they have now resorted to using and consuming the dirty pond waters of Akagera marshland which is simultaneously used by cows.

Akagera marshland is located at the foothills of Tanzania’s mountain Karyuwimba.

Residents of Rwimiyaga sector in Gatebe, Nyenyeri and Gakobwa among others, do fetch water for home use from the same marshland. Besides, they walk more than 10 kilometers to reach Akagera marshland. And then another task; they have to separate cow dung and other solid waste and rubbish from water before filling their containers. It is not a rare case to cite individuals taking a bath from the ponds as their livestock drink on the other side.

“I always wake up early in the morning along with neighbors, ride bicycles to the nearest water point. Because of the darkness, we usually use torches. If you want un-mingled water, you have to arrive at the water point as early before cows mire it with mud, dung and waste. We have been taking that type of water for long that we sometimes drink without boiling it,” said Ngarambe Eric, a resident of the area.

“With the morning exhaustion from riding for a long distance of 10 km, thirst mounts.
To quench thirst, we quaff the un-boiled water.There and then. When you go to fetch water in the day, you are bound to take water containing cow-dung and urine,” says another resident Byukusenge Edmond explaining that children and women fear to reach the marshland fearing crocodile attacks.

The headmaster of Gatebe School, Bumbakare Faustin says that water shortage affects students’ school attendance and hygiene. Some students take long without washing their clothes.

“Some students miss class because when they go to fetch water, they cannot walk another equally long distance to school. Some pupils attend school for only three days a week because of the same issue. The daily attendance list is disheartening,” laments the headmaster.

Water shortage affects teachers too. They also walk that far to the marshland to fetch water after class.

“When school time is over, we ride bicycles with three jerrycans to Akagera marshland to fetch water. It makes our life hard but we have no choice, “says one teacher.

Residents’ lives are susceptible to various risks; water borne diseases, snake bites and crocodile attacks.

“The mayor of Nyagatare district, Mupenzi George has told IGIHE that the gloomy water challenge is known.

“We already know that they fetch water from Akagera marshland. Some of them used to fetch water in valley dams which have since dried. We have secured water transporting wagon tanks to deliver water to them but the supply doesn’t reach all consumers,” he said.

He explained that they have a wide project of availing safe piped water to the residents of Musheri, Matimba, Karangazi and Rwimiyaga sectors in the 2016-2017 budget.

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Nyagatare residents fetching water from Akagera marshland

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