Burundi

People living with disabilities in Burundi are not left behind

Going to the toilet is a basic human need. Unfortunately, it not always easy for many people, especially those living with disabilities, because to find adapted toilets is a challenge.

Akeza Labelle Bella (intern)

Jean Richard BUTOYI, 45, a widower and father of five, is a person with disabilities living in the Maramvya-Sobel internally displaced people (IDP) site following the 2020 flooding in the area of Gatumba due to the rise of Lake Tanganyika and Ruzizi river. He did not have a latrine before UNICEF's intervention.

Going to the toilet is a basic human need. Unfortunately, it not always easy for many people, especially those living with disabilities, because to find adapted toilets is a challenge.

''The toilets we had before were not practical for us. You had to squat with your brace, which made it very difficult to stand up, there was a long distance to reach the toilet and they were not designed for us either. During rainy season, the roads are in bad condition, which is more challenging for us," says Jean Richard.

In the absence of toilets, the alternative to relieving oneself is open defecation or the use of plastic bags, near houses or water points, which creates serious health risks. Waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, etc., affect millions of people every year, not to mention the negative impact on the environment. As such, the Maramvya-Sobel IDP site, located in a cholera-prone area, registered diarrhea cases.

Having access to a toilet is more than a comfort, it is a necessity. To curb the risk of water pollution, fight against diseases and maintain hygiene, latrines are built in communities.

UNICEF, with the support of Swiss National Committee, together with its implementing partner Santé des Communautés pour le Développement (SACODE), 60 built semi-sustainable latrines in the emergency phase in this IDP site serving 3,000 people.

''Now, when I use the toilets that UNICEF built for us, I forget that I am even disabled because I have no difficulty, it is like sitting on a chair. I thank UNICEF and its partners for having thought of us. We no longer have diseases like cholera or diarrhea, nor do we have to travel long distances to relieve ourselves,'' Jean Richard tells us.