AT LEAST 26 people have been treated for Cholera at Nkombo Island since August, with hundreds of others at the risk of contracting the disease.
According to the director of Nkombo Health Centre, Didas Mukeshimana, the disease outbreak is attributed to low access to clean and safe water at the island.
No death has so far been recorded officials said.
The statistics were announced during a meeting to discuss how to avert the outbreak on the Lake Kivu Island this week that brought together local health and grassroots leaders, district officials and residents.
Nkombo Island is approximately 11 Kilometres from Kamembe town.
The island, which is one of the 18 sectors that make up Rusizi District, covers an area of 21 square kilometres and is populated by about 17,000 residents.
Sector officials said access to clean water in the area is still at around 30 per cent.
Residents mainly rely on water they fetch from Lake Kivu, believed to be contaminated.
“The low access to potable water is complicating efforts to improve hygiene and sanitation in this village,” Mukeshimana said.
Saturday Times saw women and children fetching water from Lake Kivu. Some of them said they use the lake water in several domestic activities, including cooking, washing kitchen utensils and clothes as well as bathing.
Some claimed that some area residents drink the unsafe water without boiling it.
One woman who we found washing her clothes on the shores of Lake Kivu with her children playing in the water, said they are compelled to fetch Kivu waters because there is no option.
“We have no clean water to use so we resort to the water from the lake,” the mother of two said.
Saturday Times later established that out of 25 water pumps on the island, only four are currently operational.
Apart from the water scarcity, many of the toilets in several homes are in a sorry state and could also spread the disease.
Sources at Nkombo Health Centre said diseases related to poor hygiene are usually the second most recorded cases at the health facility.
But health officials said efforts are being made to sensitise residents on the benefits of observing proper hygiene standards.
The efforts include educating the community to always boil water before any using it and use water purifying chemical products, including Sur’Eau.
Nkombo Sector executive secretary, Victor Sebagabo, told Saturday Times that each family gets two bottles of Sur’Eau every week, free of charge, to help purify the water. The campaign will last three months, he said.
“District authorities have also promised to help us repair all water pumps on the island,” Sebagabo said.
Sebagabo also said that a house-to-house inspection of toilets is scheduled next week to make sure that all households have proper bathrooms that don’t pose any health risks to residents.
Efforts to talk to Rusizi District mayor Oscar Nzeyimana were futile by press time as he did not return our numerous calls.