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Mr. Nestor Mburente, Legal Representative/AVEDEV and outgoing Chairperson/OBEA
As the world celebrates the World water week amid the COVID 19 this year, NBD shares a message from one of our members, and actor in water, sanitation, and environment in Burundi, Mr Nestor MBURENTE.

Mr. Nestor MBURENTE, is the Legal representative of AVEDEC (Association Villageoise d'Entraide et de Développement Communautaire) in Burundi. AVEDEC is member of Burundi Nile Discourse Forum.   Being a member of  different  networks  of organizations  on Water and environment protection in Burundi, Nestor's organization  bore the idea  of  bringing together  different  Water Sector actors  to form  National Observatory  on Water and Sanitation (OBEA).  OBEA brings together different actors in the water sector in Burundi.
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OBEA was created on August 5, 2016, through Nestor MBURENTE and AVEDEC in particular. The idea was to create an exchange framework for the promotion of the right to water and sanitation in Burundi. Nestor is the first chairperson of the observatory who also just ended his term in office.

This is what he says about OBEA:

Why was OBEA created?
Nestor:  OBEA was created with an overall objective of contributing and improving dialogue and negotiations with political decision-makers, technical and financial partners, civil society organizations and the private sector working in the field of water and sanitation.
The overall objectives emanate from the observatory’s vision which aims for “a Burundi where the right to water and sanitation is guaranteed for a dignified and healthy life for everyone”. Our Mission is to bring out a conscious, vigilant civil society that acts in synergy to promote the right to water and sanitation in Burundi.

What were the challenges / issues before the establishment of the observatory?
 Nestor: There were several challenges including instability of political interlocutors in the water and sanitation sectors; lack of  budgetary allocation for Water and Sanitation sector in relation to the international conventions ratified by Burundi; Language barriers relating to documentation often written in English, and ineffective decentralization of policy implementation.

Is there a change, today, in the management sector of water, sanitation and environment?
Nestor: Yes, a remarkable change is visible at three levels following the sensitization carried out by civil society organizations - members of the OBEA:
For civil society organizations: they are well equipped in terms of techniques skills in advocating for the right to water and sanitation.
For water users: they currently know their rights and obligations in terms of access to water and sanitation.
For political authorities: the management of the public water service is a priority through local governance (local project management) and accountability to the population. OBEA is in the process of influencing policies of equal distribution of infrastructure at the provincial level but also to make decentralization effective in the water and sanitation sector.

What has OBEA achieved so far?
Nestor: OBEA has achieved a lot since 2016 and the journey continues. Some of our achievements include but not limited to:  conducting training sessions on citizen vigilance, lobbying and advocacy, rights-based approach, and human rights.
We have protected Lake Tanganyika and Mutwenzi River Buffer zones and successfully conducted awareness campaigns on the right to water and sanitation in the town of Kabezi.
As far as water resources and water quality are concerned, we conducted analysis of the water pollution of Lake Tanganyika; analysis of the impact of the forced recovery operated by National Water Corporation, REGIDESO on the various actors and analysis of the water quality of Lake Tanganyika. We have also enhanced knowledge dissemination through OBEA's  website, and established 4 communal networks (Communal Platforms on Water and Sanitation in the communes of Mugamba, Buyengero, Vyanda and Bugarama.

Are there typical examples of the effects of climate change on water in Burundi?
Nestor: Yes, like the drying up of the emergence of water sources, floods, drought, delayed rains, etc.

Is there a relationship between the two?
Nestor: Yes, there is a direct correlation such as the case of drying up of water sources, reduction or increase in stream flows and others.

What message do you convey to other civil societies operating in the Nile Riparian Countries?
Nestor: The other civil societies operating in the Nile Riparian Countries must understand that the Nile water resource is a shared economic good and that it is necessary to ensure its safeguard for today and for future generations by considering that all the riparian countries have the same rights and duties on the Nile.
To succeed, civil society organizations must come forward to advocate and promote the right to water as a natural right to be enjoyed.

Civil society organizations that form a network or in a platform must develop synergy and complementarity for the sole purpose of promoting the right to water and sanitation in order to influence the policies of our governments while providing themselves with a better place as the best interlocutors of these same governments.

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