A new borehole well in Tanzania

January 26, 2016

Drilling a new borehole well in Mtendeli Refugee Camp in Tanzania. Photo: Davide Prata / CWS

Drilling a new borehole well in Mtendeli Refugee Camp in Tanzania. Photo: Davide Prata / CWS

If someone told you today that you only have 15 liters of water: How would you use them? For cooking, showering and washing clothes; would that 15 liters be enough for you?

15 liters of water per person per day – about four gallons – is the minimum requirement to be delivered during an emergency. Thanks to the funds from ACT Alliance, CWS and our partner Tanganyikan Christian Refugee Services, we are contributing to achieve and exceed this target.

I am standing in my raincoat and gumboots in front of a drilling rig. Today is a rainy day and we are surrounded by lush vegetation, trucks, generators and drilling equipment. Everyone is looking intently at the drilling pipes, descending slowly into the ground. In the last five years I have monitored the drilling of many boreholes; none of which have been as important as this one.

We are in the newly opened Mtendeli Refugee Camp in western Tanzania; once fully operational, this camp will host more than 35,000 women, men and children from Burundi. Water is the most important commodity in a refugee camp and the borehole we are drilling is crucial for the future of these refugees. Based on the availability of water, UNHCR will decide how many refugees can be hosted in the Mtendeli camp. Once water is available here, thousands of refugees currently living in mass shelters, each housing over 150 people, will be moved to family tents in a more secure environment.

“We hope to get a lot of water from this borehole,” the senior driller at the site said to me. All CWS and TCRS staff, UNHCR officers and refugees share the same hope.

Every day more than 200 Burundian refugees still enter Tanzania. The political crisis which started in Burundi in April 2015 is yet to be solved. Political violence is common and bodies of political opponents have been found in the streets of the capital city, Bujumbura. Tanzania is now a safe haven for over 120,000 refugees.

CWS, our partner TCRS and ACT Alliance are in the front line of this emergency. We are working closely with UNHCR and other international and national agencies. All of us are sharing the same target: restoring hope and providing a good living environment for our brothers and sisters from Burundi.

Davide Prata is CWS’s Emergency Coordinator located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.