HYFRO has been successfully implementing the SWIFT programme in North Kivu in a pre-election context, in an area affected by an ebola epidemic further enhancing tensions in this already fragile context.
In March 2019, the number of 1000 ebola cases was reached in the DRC. The number of cases continue to increase as new health zones have been affected.
Katwa Health Zone (located in Butembo city) is the main hotspot as most of the new confirmed cases have been reported in this health zone. This is one of the 5 areas where SWIFT partners HYFRO has been working since 2014 and unfortunately this ebola outbreak is only one of many external factors that is affecting their work.
Map of ebola cases in March 2019 in Ituri and North Kivu
The HYFRO team in Butembo
HYFRO is working in a very fragile and volatile context.
This is what makes the SWIFT Consortium different from other development programmes. SWIFT partners have to get work done despite the context, they have to learn to work with that context. HYFRO has had to face many obstacles, from road closures during the election period, to attacks from rebel armed groups on villages where they work, to, more recently, the ebola outbreak.
It is difficult to engage communities in a project when they are living in fear.
In these times of conflict, people don’t want to stand out and attract attention and be the victims of an attack. HYFRO had to work hard to convince people to take part in the project and help set up the infrastructure. In many communities, people were scared to place SWIFT logos on their newly built latrines, for instance, for fear that they could serve as landmarks for another machette killing. People were also weary of NGO workers, as the perception of the ebola response had been quite negative and people don’t fully understand the disease and accuse humanitarians of spreading it. This has made work dificult for the SWIFT teams and the Community Health Volunteers that they rely on for the hygiene promotion component of the programme.
Hygiene promotion in Lukanga
The Muleke water tank, built by HYFRO
The team had to work under a lot of pressure.
The team had to work under the same pressure as if they were implementing an emergency programme to reach their target before the deadline, but their work was facilated by the support from local authorities. Village chiefs helped convince people to take part in the project and raise awareness around hygiene and sanitation. HYFRO managed to build 11 water catchments to supply rural, semi-urban and urban communities in North Kivu.
All the components are in place to ensure sustainability.
HYFRO set up management structures for the 3 components of the SWIFT programme. Professional water user committees – ASUREPs – are in place. Community Health Volunteers are still going door to door to share their hygiene promotion messages. Village committees are making sure that all that has been done to improve sanitation is sustainable. SWIFT managed to work with this fragile context by building trust with local communities and making sure they take ownership of the project.
Since 2014, the Sustainable WASH In Fragile Contexts (SWIFT) Consortium has been working to provide access to water and sanitation and to encourage the adoption of basic hygiene practices in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Kenya.
Various partners implement SWIFT’s actions in both target countries, in collaboration with governments as well as water providers, including utilities. The consortium is led by Oxfam, and includes Tearfund and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) as global members.
The SWIFT programme is funded by UK aid from the UK government under a Payment by Results (PbR) contract.