Tearfund engineer Deo works on the rehabilitation of the giant water system at Kasongo, watched by a local technician who is being trained to take over maintenance of the system
Collecting water from one of the new tapstands at Kasongo. The giant, gravity-fed system is now supplying over 1.2 million litres of clean, safe water a day to more than 79,000 people
Explosives technicians lay dynamite to blast a well in Pangi, Maniema, after community volunteers hit solid rock three metres down and could dig no further. Five wells in the area were successfully completed
SWIFT’s Tearfund team in DRC successfully completed its work to construct and rehabilitate the water infrastructure in some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Maniema province during the last three months of the programme’s ‘outputs’ phase.
The giant, gravity-fed system at Kasongo, which had fallen into disrepair and lain idle for over a quarter of a century, was rehabilitated and extended in partnership with DRC’s national water utility REGIDESO. The system is now supplying over 1.4 million litres of clean, safe water a day to more than 79,000 people, who previously relied on a source some 5km away.
Technically and logistically challenging
Rehabilitating the Kasongo water system was a hugely challenging undertaking, both technically and logistically.
The SWIFT team had first to source the materials needed through a complex procurement process and transport them to Kasongo; usually a five-day journey from Goma, assuming nothing goes wrong. The system’s old engine and pump, which were installed by the Belgian authorities back in the 1950s, had to be stripped down and rehabilitated, and the old storage tank repaired. A new pump and storage tank had to be installed, and the network of pipes and tapstands extended before the system could finally be brought back online.
The Tearfund team has worked with REGIDESO not only on administration and management issues, but also to provide technical training and capacity building, to ensure the success of the utility’s takeover of the Kasongo water system.
Dynamite solution in Pangi
In an equally impressive achievement, Tearfund technicians completed eight water points in Pangi health zone, another remote part of Maniema where roads are impassable for vehicles and the final 40km must be travelled on foot. The remote location caused significant challenges, which were only overcome by a combination of strong community participation and creative solutions.
For example, it was community volunteers who undertook the digging of wells, but three meters down, they hit solid rock and could dig no further. Getting a drilling rig to this remote area is impossible, so the Tearfund team contracted explosives technicians from a local mine instead, who used dynamite to blast the remaining eight metres.
At the end of the outputs phase, a total of five wells and three springs had been successfully completed and handed over to the community, providing much-needed water to the people of Pangi. Since the water systems built by the Belgians in the colonial era fell into disrepair, the women of the area had been walking two hours a day to collect 15 litres of water, which had to meet all the needs of their family for a day, including drinking, washing and cooking.
Sanitation and certification
During the last three months of the output phase, an additional 1,550 hygienic household latrines were constructed in Pangi, Kalima and Kasongo health zones. In South Kivu, a further 594 latrines were built or improved by the local community, and in North Kivu the figure was 166. This brings the total for Tearfund’s SWIFT activities to 18,800 latrines, which now benefit over 123,000 people. These figures are considerably higher than the number of people Tearfund could invoice for, which is capped under SWIFT’s Payment by Results contract.
The latrines were constructed under the government-approved Healthy Villages and Schools approach (Villages et Écoles Assainis, or VEA) being implemented by SWIFT in rural areas in DRC, and through Community Health Clubs, an approach Tearfund is piloting in semi-urban areas in South Kivu.
The VEA approach is a step-by-step process of village mobilisation. SWIFT partners have helped villages to set up managing committees, train ‘community motivators’ in hygiene awareness, and form water user committees to manage water sources and collect fees. They have also supported villages to upgrade their toilets, dig rubbish pits, and promote hand-washing.
The aim is to reach ‘healthy village’ status within a year, and across North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema a total of 63 villages have now received VEA certification.