NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Pop icon Beyonce is throwing her superstar power behind a new effort to bring safe, clean water to children in Burundi in a partnership with UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s agency said on Friday.
Plans call for the project, BEYGOOD4BURUNDI, to help build wells and improve hygiene education and water and sanitation facilities in schools, UNICEF and the U.S. star said in online statements.
Two in five people in Burundi in East Africa have no access to clean water, and water- and sanitation-related diseases are among the leading causes of death among children in the nation of 12 million people, they said.
One in 12 children in Burundi dies before age 5, according to UNICEF.
“Access to water is a fundamental right. 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,” Beyonce, 35, said in the statement.
Beyonce, 35, said more than two million people in Burundi spend more than 30 minutes a day collecting water, forcing children to miss school and putting girls in particular danger as they walk miles in search of wells.
One of the most popular singers in the world, Beyonce has sold more than 100 million records as a solo artist. She has three children, including twins born earlier this month, with her husband, rap star and entrepreneur Jay Z.
“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,” said Caryl Stern, chief executive of UNICEF USA, in a statement.
Asked how much money the entertainer and UNICEF were putting toward the water project, neither the agency nor a representative for Beyonce responded immediately to requests for information.
The first phase of BEYGOOD4BURUNDI focuses on four rural regions of the landlocked East African nation that has been racked by civil unrest and violence as well as drought and malnutrition.
It was plunged into crisis in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he planned to run for a third term, which the opposition said was unconstitutional and violated a peace deal that had ended the country’s civil war 10 years earlier.
Nkurunziza was re-elected, but some opponents took up arms. At least 700 people have been killed, and rights groups estimate more than 400,000 people have been forced from their homes.