Tuesday 26 March 2019
Right to water – teh speech of AMU to FAO

For the 2019 World Water Day, AMU was invited to FAO to talk about its experience in the daily challenge to see the right to water recognized in a concrete and substantial way, through free, widespread and safe access.
During the day, which saw representatives of different nations and NGOs involved in the application of the slogan chosen for this year, “No one is left behind”, a number of questions were asked to the various speakers.

For AMU, Francesco Tortorella, Project Sector Manager, told our point of view, thanks to the experience gained also with Casobu, AMU’s partner NGO in projects in Burundi, many of which concerning access to drinking water.

Below is a summary of his speech.


1. What are the main challenges related water, globally or for your country/organization?

Our NGO has been working on water access especially in Burundi, for 15 years.
90% of Burundian population lives in rural areas and 65% are below the local poverty line of 0.85 € per day/per person. But when we talk about water access, measuring poverty in monetary terms does not help us understand the real situation of people. If we consider poverty as deprivation, we can consider the actual access of the household to aspects of well-being such as the quality of drinking water, the type of toilets, school attendance and nutritional balance, or what kind of use do people make of water.

The Burundian population (rural and urban combined) with access to drinking water is 75.9%. Thus, only 60% of the Burundian population living in rural areas has access to drinking water. The population without drinking water must use water from rivers or undeveloped sources. The lack of access to drinking water has a direct impact on the health of the population.

So, talking about the main challenges related to water, we find that Water governance remains one of the major challenges that make actions for water access sustainable or not:
– From the institutional point of view, water management is provided by municipalities that delegate municipal water boards (structures set up to manage all water resources at the commune level): one of the major challenges is that in the majority of cases, they have operational difficulties related to weakness of technical and financial capacities.
– From the community’s point of view, the lack of conception of water as a common good leads to low participation of water users. Considering that more than 90% of the Burundian population lives in rural areas, it is impossible to make running water available in every household. The national policy focuses on providing drinking water to less than 500 mt for rural households. Water users usually do not participate in the price of water service due to lack of confidence in the governance of municipal boards.
– The efficient use of water: well used as a drink but not as a good that helps us in our daily hygiene as in the sanitation of the environment, because of lack of education and training.
2.What are the required interventions to address these challenges and achieve the SDGs?

The main required interventions for us, in the Burundian context are the following:
1. Increase the coverage rate of drinking water and basic sanitation. So, work to make drinking water available in communities, with special emphasis on the most disadvantaged related to the water access, opening the gateway to other fundamental rights linked to water access, such as health and education;
2. Strengthen the capacities and the networking between the key actors in this sector to improve water governance: Institutions, Ministry, Province, Commune, community, beneficiaries, NGOs and civil society. Collaborate and build strong partnerships between state and non-state actors with the participation of communities to put in place a policy that promotes improved water governance.
3. Improve the institutional management capacities about drinking water services, but also at community level, considering water as a common good. So, sensitize the communities on the one hand to be the first protagonists to defend their rights, especially the right of access to drinking water and to develop a conscience turned towards the common good.
4. Promote behavioural change in hygiene. Raise awareness, train and educate communities about hygiene and sanitation.
5. Promote community participation in each stage of water access cycle, to ensure the sustainability of interventions and the real development of communities.

Thursday 25 October 2018
A group-lending microcredit school opens in Rukanda

Training the local community is an integral part of the “Water, Spring of Life” project. The goal is to teach them how to use the group-lending microcredit program and to be directly involved in their own growth and development.

How does it work? The group-lending microcredit model is a financial tool where savings and credits are managed in small groups: each member gives a small amount of money that, together with  contributions from all the other members, generates a fund that each member, in turn, can use to begin a profitable business venture.

Of course, whoever uses a share of the fund is committed to paying it back using profits generated by his new activity.

Its main goal is to collect savings and offer support and funds to the members of the community who would not have otherwise access to traditional financial services.

“Group-lending microcredit programs change people’s mindset and lead to financial and social development,” stated the lecturer who trained the field agents who are working together with the families who benefit from the program, teaching them how to use this tool.

Tuesday 25 September 2018
Burundi – build together to manage together

The “Water, Spring of Life” project will bring drinking water to about 850 families living on the Rukanda hill, in Bururi (Burundi). After shared projects and goals were set with the local communities, we are now entering the construction phase.

Locals will be involved again and everybody will be able to offer his or her contribution to build the infrastructures together with specialised workers and hired labourers.

Construction sites are often located in areas not easily accessible or not accessible at all, and therefore in these days we have started to build or renovate the bridges that will allow personnel, equipment, and materials to reach their planned destinations.

The Muhondo bridge is one of many that is being renovated: students from a nearby school have joined the official workforce, offering their concrete help to complete the project.

Such a spirit of cooperation and direct involvement developed during both planning and construction is one of the most important aspects of this project and will facilitate the project’s future phase where the locals will be in charge of managing the brand new infrastructure and water supply systems in a fare and sustainable way.


Tuesday 11 September 2018
Are all back in school?

From http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/09/18/are-all-back-in-school/

The question mark is vital. In many countries the school year is starting. But not all the children and kids have the same right and opportunity to go to school. AMU has its educational and school assistance projects.

In the hemisphere where summer is giving way to autumn, many cities have suddenly changed their rhythm, to conform partly to the opening and closing schedules of the schools, the cause of morning traffic, jams, or the gathering of groups at the exit of the scholastic facilities. But if for many children it is obvious that the return to school with a backpack, means meeting teachers, schoolmates, occupying a desk and are chair,  for many others, in other parts of the world, struck by painful situations of war or poverty, going to school, keeping up with one’s studies or doing the homework is a challenge. These are the problems addressed by AMU (Action for a United World). Inspired by the spirituality of Chiara Lubich, it works to spread a culture of dialogue and unity among peoples through development projects worldwide.

As for example in Syria. Today, now that the violent armed clashes have ceased, but not the emergency, the country is taking stock of the destruction of many school infrastructures and buildings, the migration of capital abroad, the economic embargo. In  Homs, the transfer of many people from some bombed districts to others considered “safe” and the reduced number of professors, who have migrated, have led to an overcrowding of the schools, resulting in the lack of adequate support for each student. On the other hand, the cost of attending a private school has become impossible. AMU’s commitment is that of offering greater care and attention to the evacuated children, accompanying them with educational and scholastic programmes. Instead in Damascus, in the old Tabbale district, the aid goes to the “Bayt al Atfal” Centre which gathers, for four days a week, 120 children between 6 and 10 years of age. Some of them live with their families in just one room and do not have a place where they can study, others have learning difficulties or syndromes such as dyslexia, or simply cannot count on anyone’s help, due to the absence or the illiteracy of their parents. In Aleppo, AMU supports a centre for deaf children who are not admitted to public or private schools. Today the “EHIS” school hosts 75 children and offers work to 30 people, among whom, professors, assistants and labourers. Still in Aleppo, the learning project “Learn and produce,” organised by the Syrian Handicrafts Centre, and supported by AMU, is bringing ahead a training course, for 20 adolescents, who learn to make and sell local artisanal items like soap based on laurel, brass objects and embroideries.

In Cairo, Egypt, the “hot topics” are scholastic dispersion and access of women to educational and professional courses that could help them develop their own professional capabilities. “Change For Tomorrow” of the Koz Kazah Foundation, in the community of Shubra, one of the most populated districts of the grand capital on the Nile, supports a group of women who have started up activities like the processing of wicker, cuisine, and ecological prints.

In Italy, AMU offers to teachers and educators a training path entitled “Living peace: peace as a school project.” Instead, for schools and groups of teens, it offers the “Basta conoscersi” project. The AMU educational and study assistance projectswelcome donations. In this way, for many children and adolescents September can really become a time to go back to school.

By Chiara Favotti

Tuesday 13 February 2018
Let’s bet on Syria

This is Robert’s request, our local contact for AMU’s “Emergency Syria” Program in his dialogue with Città Nuova…

The first sentence that Robert says in the interview with Maria Chiara De Lorenzo is: “I open the map every day to see where we are fighting”. In fact, in addition to the news of bombings that these days are back in the media, we learn that the fighting outbreaks have never completely died down.

In the following lines we find the story of these years, how the wounds of the bombings have destroyed entire cities: “I did not want to go and see the ruins of Aleppo. Only after three months I found the courage to go out and see the most beautiful parts of the city, razed to the ground – says Robert. ”

But after the discomfort, we need to get up again, with awareness and determination: Syria can do it, with the help of everyone.

To the question “What would you say to those who watch Syria from the outside? What can be done for Syria today?” Robert replies: “Surely, for those with faith, keep praying. And then, bet on the Syrians that the country is alive. We need hope in Syria. We need support – and I’m not talking only from an economic point of view, certainly important – but to believe with us that this country, the cradle of civilization, can be revived again. That peace is still possible. The important thing is not to remain indifferent. And for those who ask themselves: what can I do for Syria? I say: pray, make a personal contribution, a professional can come for a period of voluntary service…now the situation is safer. We need to feel that the world feels our suffering, the suffering of a country that is disappearing. Syria must be there.”


Thanks to your contribution, AMU will continue to support the “Emergency Syria” Program providing, in 2018, assistance to 200 families in Aleppo, Damascus, Homs, and on the coast.

Here you will find the two articles with the complete interview made by Maria Chiara De Lorenzo to Robert:

From Syria to Syria 

Reactivating aid in Syria