The lack of access to clean drinking water is a widespread crisis that affects millions of people everyday. Known as the “Heart of Africa,” Burundi is home to a population where nearly half of the residents have no access to safe, clean water. Among those most vulnerable to the devastating effects of this epidemic are the children of Burundi.
Together with UNICEF and through her BeyGOOD Foundation, global entertainment powerhouse Beyoncé is taking a major step towards improving water conditions in Burundi through a brand new initiative titled BEYGOOD4Burundi. The partnership will support several initiatives to improve water, sanitation and basic hygiene practices in the hardest-to-reach parts of the hidden East African community.
Announced on Friday morning on the 2017 ESSENCE Festival centerstage, the first phase of the partnership includes the construction of new wells equipped with hand pumps, hygiene education and the improvement of water and sanitation facilities in schools in four priority regions, including Bukemba and Giharo in Rutana Province and Kinyinya and Nyabitsinda in Ruyigui Province. In these rural communities, children are chronically malnourished and more than 65 percent of the population is using unsafe water sources. Children and families have to walk long distances to water collection points, and even then the water access rate is extremely low.
“BEYGOOD4BURUNDI is a continuation of the work that Beyoncé, her family and Parkwood Entertainment are doing to address water crises around the world, including right here in the state of Louisiana and in Michigan,” said Ivy McGregor, Director of Philanthropy and Corporate Relations at Parkwood Entertainment, who traveled to Burundi earlier this year. “In Burundi I saw myself, my sisters and my mother in the strength of the women and young sisters traveling miles to carry water for their families. Today young girls in the ‘Heart of Africa’ are given the gift of hope for a brighter tomorrow through our multi-year partnership with UNICEF and commitment to support safe water access solutions.”
A consummate humanitarian with a lengthy resume of involvement with helping to further multiple social causes affecting women and children, Beyoncé is dedicated to ensuring the initiative’s success.
“Access to water is a fundamental right,” she said in a statement. “When you give children clean and safe water, you don’t just give them life, you give them health, an education, and a brighter future. I am committed to helping drive lasting solutions to the water crisis in Burundi.”
The exciting new initiative was brought to life at ESSENCE Fest by way of an interactive pop up display that allowed attendees to take a simulated walk through of the Burundi community to get a first-hand feel for the challenging water conditions.
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UNICEF USA President and CEO Caryl M. Stern echoes Beyoncé’s sentiments.
“Addressing the global water crisis is one of the defining challenges of our time, and the children of Burundi are among the most vulnerable,” Stern said. “This unique partnership combines UNICEF’s decades of expertise in providing clean water to children in Burundi and around the world with the power and influence of the entertainment world to bring about social change. We are grateful to Beyoncé and BeyGOOD for joining forces with UNICEF, to highlight this critical issue to new audiences.”
Together, BeyGOOD and UNICEF are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
This article originally appeared on Essence.com