Facilitating Access to Clean Water in DRC

In Burraya, a village of 2,500 in Walikale territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), lack of water sanitation costs lives, as it does in many parts of the DRC. Because the only accessible spring near Burraya wasn’t protected from contamination, villagers suffered water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, amoebic dysentery, and cholera. These diseases are especially dangerous in remote areas, where health care is distant and travel difficult.

In partnership with UGADEC (Union of Associations for Gorilla Conservation and Community Development in eastern DRC), JGI sensitized Burraya villagers to the importance of clean water and its relationship to improved health. We met with village leaders and other residents every month and also helped spread awareness through radio messages. Soon, the village asked us to help it build a well, which would provide a convenient water supply and help protect the water supply at its source.
Burraya formed a management committee that would be responsible for ensuring proper use and maintenance of its water supply. Villagers volunteered to carry stones and sand from the river 2 kilometers away – an arduous task given the dense forest surrounding the river. UGADEC bought bags of cement, pipes and other construction tools from Goma and transported them by airplane.
After a month of hard work, the village had a new well supplying 10 liters of clean water per minute. The benefits were immediately apparent, and in only a few months, the health center reported a reduction in water-borne diseases and overall improvement in villagers’ health.
Today the water source management committee is fully responsible for maintaining the purity of the source and operation of the well, and continues to educate people about the critical importance of clean water.
This project strengthened our partnership with the local community, an important part of our community-centered conservation efforts. JGI and UGADEC plan to implement 3 more water and sanitation projects in 2010, as many villages have no access to clean water and have already requested support.
Our work in Walikale is part of a larger project with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and UGADEC in the eastern DRC to promote health, family planning, sustainable agriculture and improved local infrastructure. Through its involvement with UGADEC, Burraya has committed a portion of its land to a large community reserve which, with other community reserves, form a network of corridors linking the Maiko and Kahuzi Biega national parks -- areas rich in biodiversity. Our development activities support grassroots conservation initiatives that are all working toward larger conservation objectives in this landscape.
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