FOCUS: Access to water should mean access to safe water too

The International World Water Day was recently celebrated with various themes in different countries. However what was common is that each focused on access to clean water.
People in line for that precious water
People in line for that precious water

The International World Water Day was recently celebrated with various themes in different countries. However what was common is that each focused on access to clean water.

Access to water is a major concern in most developing nations. In fact in Primary school we used to have debates. The most interesting was one on ‘Water is better than fire”.

Interestingly even then, the focus was mainly on the importance of water, but none dug deep on the importance of its safety on human life. Dirty or unhygienic water can have terrible or even fatal results on human life.

Usually, water is for either drinking or other domestic works. It may be got at wells, bore holes or from taps in homes. However, there are situations like in public places when peoples` demands are controlled by others for example in hotels or restaurants or hospitals while on visits.

In such a situation, ones` safety is determined by service providers operating in these places, the very reasons as to why people are selective in going for services in restaurants, hospitals or hotels.

This also forces others to move with water and food containers not only to avoid costs but also as a hygienic measure.

Roger Nyirimigabo, Assistant Manager Maintenance department Laico Umubano hotel, says water has a big role in public places not only in hotels but even on ceremonies like weddings or parties especially when food is to be served.

“As a measure of purifying the water we use here, right from RECO-RWASCO to the main pipe linking to our tank, it is pumped through four filters, one after the other,” Nyirimigabo said.

“The filters comprise sand, but to also ensure that the sand is also clean we use what we refer to as a back wash system that cleans it too.”

According to him, sometimes the place is hit by water shortage due to break down of some lines from the RECO-RWASCO. 

However, not all people will afford first class hotels with services like Serena, Hilltop or hospitals like King Faisal with similar facilities but will resort to certain restaurants and eating places.

Samuel who operates a restaurant in Nyamirambo says he has access to water, but pointed out that it is not at a constant schedule which makes his operations difficult.

“My water storage system is not big enough to keep enough water.  So in case of a long or consistent water shortage my work operation becomes difficult based on the need,” he said.

“I boil the water which my customers will drink the following day, although at times it is not enough for all of them.”
He however explained that some customers disappoint him as some are not interested in boiled water.

“Customers are hard to handle. Some say they are not used to boiled water since at home they never take it. Others go on to say it might even affect their health because they are used to taking direct from the tap,” Samuel laments.

Could Samuel’s customers be a reflection of Rwandans’ attitude to boiled water? Hopefully not as this might mean so many preventable ailments could be affecting Rwandans.

If this is the case, then a mass sensitisation campaign needs to be carried out so that society can appreciate the importance of drinking clean boiled or treated water.

In 1993, the United Nations declared and recognized the International World Water Day with the focus of creating awareness of the need and importance of fresh water.

This has seen many other countries getting on board and according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report, dirty water is also the key factor in the rise of de-oxygenated dead zones that have been emerging in seas and oceans across the globe.

According to the report, the day was marked under the theme “Clean water for a Healthy World”.