Bringing Water to Refugees

Aaron Tate | June 25, 2015

Near a dry water tap connected to an empty water tank, colorful buckets left in a queue wind like thirsty snakes, waiting patiently. Photo: Aaron Tate / CWS

Near a dry water tap connected to an empty water tank, colorful buckets left in a queue wind like thirsty snakes, waiting patiently. Photo: Aaron Tate / CWS

As I step on to the red dirt of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Western Tanzania, I am surrounded. Of course, the children come first, they greet the car as it rolls up and they follow us as we get out, laughing and joking as we go. We visit the mass shelters laid out in rows, plastic-wrapped buildings where 180 people sleep, no interior walls, no privacy. We see the crowded common spaces, full of people cooking, hanging clothes, doing daily chores.

I’m walking with staff from our partner agency, and we are greeted warmly by the Burundian refugees that we meet. “Ça va?” “Ça va bien.”

Nearly 60,000 Burundian refugees have come to this camp over the last six weeks—an influx that has activated an emergency response from CWS and the ACT Alliance. Political turmoil and government violence in Burundi has forced these thousands to flee.

Their needs are as complex as every child that surrounds me now. But the task before us today is the most basic, the most fundamental—that most precious part of our planet and our bodies.

Water.

There just isn’t enough of it here with all these thousands of people, and with 400 more arriving every day. Existing water wells are overloaded, water must be trucked in, while more wells are dug.

Near a dry water tap connected to an empty water tank, colorful buckets left in a queue wind like thirsty snakes, waiting patiently. When someone brings the truck, fills the tank, and the taps give water, the people will come and the line of buckets will come alive, moving one-by-one toward the taps, the last bucket praying it is not left dry.

CWS is bringing more water tanks, more taps, to bring more water to the Burundian refugees here in Nyarugusu Camp. It’s the first step in our emergency response here. Stay tuned.

Aaron Tate is an Emergency Coordinator with CWS.


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