Tuesday, February 16, 2016 (by Alyssa Martinez)
Today was our second day of field work in Byumba. After breakfast, we headed out to the community surrounding the Gihembe refugee camp. Our first stop was the Iakib Cooperative right near the entrance of the camp. The Iakib cooperative collects maize and dairy from surrounding community farmers and processes it for selling at markets. It was great to talk with Valencio, the manager of the cooperative, about the water and energy problems the co-op faces. He stressed that the co-op faces a quantity problem not a quality problem. Valencio was very willing to answer our questions and was interested in hearing about how he could improve the co-op’s operations.
We continued down the road to visit more residences to talk to more community members and collect water samples. Our first home was Jenny’s. She got her water piped from the government. She boiled the water for drinking and used WaterGuard for other water. On her property, she grew crops for the 7 family members, including 2 orphans, living in the house and had 8 chickens for eggs. Jenny also expressed concerns about the lack of water her family has.
Before leaving the community near the camp, we got to interact with a few more community members. We talked to Clarice, a 6th grader, during her lunch break from school. Other students talked to women participating in a local market. We had some down time to interact with students back from school.
After lunch, we headed to the water treatment plant that provides the 20,000 community members and refugee camp with water. The plant is designed to treat the water by aeration, filtration, and disinfection, but only the chlorine disinfection step was in operation at the time of our visit. The plant has to ration if the demand is greater than the supply, which is common during the dry seasons. We ended our day doing lab work for the samples from the co-op and raw and treated water from the treatment plant.