28 February 2012
Incidents of debilitating waterborne illnesses have been dramatically reduced among Congolese families following a Tearfund project.
Around 2 million people live in the province of Maniema in the Democratic Republic of Congo and only around five per cent have access to clean drinking water.
As a result, people who rely on unsafe water sources regularly succumb to diarrhoea and other problems which limit their ability to work or go to school.
Tearfund teams have been tackling the problem in five communities by providing clean water supplies as well as sanitation.
The result is that 5,000 people have benefited as water sources have been repaired and others which were previously unprotected from animals and pollution are now secure.
Hundreds of families are benefiting from latrines being built in communities too.
Tearfund has also provided training in hygiene which has helped many people living below the poverty line understand the link between sanitation and diarrhoea for the first time.
A survey of villages indicated that where previously 66 per cent of all households had someone ill with diarrhoea, that figure had dropped to 30 per cent in the immediate aftermath of the water and sanitation work.
Villagers in Lubile, for example, were overwhelmed with joy at having clean water to drink, the first time they had such supplies since 1992.
A key feature of Tearfund’s work is to form water and hygiene committees within communities so that local people are involved throughout.
This ensures knowledge about building latrines and protecting water sources remains in communities after Tearfund has left and maintains the sustainability of projects for the long term.