SEATTLE — In June 2017, Beyonce committed to partnering with UNICEF in a multi-year mission to provide clean drinking water to children throughout Burundi. A small country located in central Africa, Burundi struggles with racial tension and has been the site of a civil war for almost two decades. It is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with 77 percent of people living on less than $2 a day. As a result of deep poverty, half of the population does not have clean water access in Burundi. This lack of access has caused a water crisis.
While many people suffer from inadequate water access in Burundi, Beyonce’s BEYGOOD4BURUNDI campaign, or BG4B for short, will focus specifically on children. Children comprise 52 percent of the population, and the consumption of unsafe water is one of the leading causes of death for young children.
Families often give their children the responsibility of drawing water from the community well, and the lack of water access in Burundi forces them to walk several miles to and from the closest water source. This deeply affects female children specifically, as the long treks can be dangerous and they can be victims of sexual harassment or more serious sex crimes.
Beyonce and UNICEF plan to first focus efforts on four rural regions that have been especially affected by the civil war. The fundraising proceeds will go towards implementing a clean water supply for hospitals and schools, as well as building natural water resources for communities. These efforts will improve water sanitation for mothers breastfeeding newborn babies and students, as well as reduce the distance children have to walk to reach a well.
UNICEF has a reputation for bringing poor areas access to clean drinking water, and through BG4B water access in Burundi will surely increase. While it is currently unclear how much Beyonce plans to personally contribute to the cause, the program will release more specific plans in November in celebration of World Children’s Day.
– Julia Mccartney