SEATTLE — On March 22, the news of Beyoncé’s plan to build wells in Burundi for World Water Day was announced worldwide. This announcement helped raise awareness of World Water Day and the need to recognize the world’s need for clean water.
Approximately 40 percent of Burundi’s population does not have access to safe and clean drinking water, putting their health at risk. In fact, the leading cause of death in children under the age of five is water and sanitation-related diseases. Even if these diseases do not lead to death, they still affect the growth rate and health of children, as 29.2 percent of children under five suffer from malnutrition.
Burundi’s water supply endured years of destruction during the country’s civil war. During this time, several kilometers of water pipes were sabotaged, denying thousands of people access to water.
Burundi’s drinking water is also limited by the country’s rapid population growth. The current population of 10.5 million people is growing at an annual rate of more than 2.9 percent, putting further strain on the limited water supply. About 2.2 million people spend more than 30 minutes a day collecting water, most of whom are women and children.
Beyoncé, after recognizing Burundi’s dire need for water, began her program BeyGOOD4BURUNDI in July 2017, a multi-year initiative to improve water sanitation and basic hygiene practices in the country. Beyoncé’s plan to build wells in Burundi for World Water Day was the second phase of the initiative, with 85 additional wells to aid more than half a million women and children.
Many schools and hospitals throughout Burundi lack access to any water at all. Since girls require water for sanitation during their menstrual cycle, they are unable to attend school when they have their period, putting their education at risk.
March 22 was not only World Water Day, but also marked the closing of Women’s History Month. The announcement of Beyoncé’s plan to build wells in Burundi for World Water Day will also send a message of empowerment and affirmation to all women around the world through this mission in Burundi.
BeyGOOD does much more than simply donating money; it remains committed to actually putting in the work and monitoring the progress to make it all a reality. The organization believes that a relationship on the ground with the people is more vital than mere donations.
In 2017, 35 wells were installed, giving nearly 100,000 residents access to clean water. The additional 85 wells will allow close to half a million people to be serviced in new locations where these people are walking furthest for water. With the new wells, Beyoncé has set the goal to provide clean water access to more than 366,000 women and children by the year 2020.
However, in order to allow everyone clean water access in Burundi, the project requires an additional $13 million to complete this goal. BeyGOOD is planning on partnering with multiple organizations in order to hopefully end the water crisis in Burundi.
– Adrienne Tauscheck