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Deograce, a Tearfund technician, repairing the pump at Kasango. Photo: Nathanael Hollands/Tearfund

The town where the taps are working after a 25 year wait

By Mark Lang | 09 Dec 2015

They had taps. They had pipes. But for 25 long years, the people of Kasongo had no decent water system.

They had taps. They had pipes. But for 25 long years, the people of Kasongo had no decent water system.

The Belgians built a gravity-fed system in 1954 to deliver drinking water to the residents of the town, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but by 1990 it was kaput.

This meant many locals would have to walk for two hours to get enough water to last a family for a day.

Two international charities had a go at repairing the town’s system but they couldn’t turn on the taps.

However recently there’s been a breakthrough. A team from Tearfund, working as part of the SWIFT Consortium, successfully pumped water three miles uphill into a cistern that had been dry for two decades.

I have lived here my entire life, and I didn’t know what this pipe was for.
Resident of Kasango
A technician tightening the main valve. Photo: Nathanael Hollands/Tearfund

A Tearfund technician tightening a main valve. Photo: Nathanael Hollands/Tearfund

trekking with tools for 40 miles

There was a sense of disbelief and then excitement when people started seeing the system work. One young man who lives near a derelict tap stand was amazed when he saw water come out of the pipe. ‘I have lived here my entire life, and I didn’t know what this pipe was for,’ he said.

This is among many water and sanitation schemes Tearfund has been working on over recent months in a part of the world that has been convulsed by conflict.

To say operating in eastern D.R. Congo is difficult would be an understatement on a par with London can be a bit pricey. The region is remote, poor and has little infrastructure.

The lack of roads meant tools to build latrines had to be carried by hand for more than 40 miles to reach another project site at Pangi, where our water and sanitation work is the first since the end of Belgian rule.

Our team is currently planning to build wells but before they can start work they’re having to build bridges with the local community — literally.

Three crossings are being repaired, with locals’ help, and this will enable construction materials to be brought in.

We aim to bring water to the heart of the community for the first time in a generation; what’s more, we intend to ensure that it will last.
Nathanael Hollands, Tearfund D.R. Congo
Kasango's main water cistern. Photo: Nathanael Hollands/Tearfund

(Clockwise from top right) Pangi's main water source before Tearfund's work; one of the bridges Tearfund is repairing and Kasango's main water cistern. Photo: Nathanael Hollands/Tearfund

Change that will last

Tearfund’s Nathanael Hollands, said, ‘Through talking to local people and community leaders, I learned that ours is the first water, sanitation and hygiene project to be implemented in the Pangi area.

‘We aim to bring water to the heart of the community for the first time in a generation; what’s more, we intend to ensure that it will last.’

The impact of providing clean water and sanitation to Congolese communities shouldn’t be underestimated.

For years, two villages in an area called Kalima had been in conflict. Tearfund has helped promote peace between the rival villagers by bringing them together to develop a common water system.

It’s progress like this that makes overcoming Congo’s hurdles worthwhile, says David McAllister, Tearfund’s Country Director for D.R. Congo: ‘Every time we complete work to provide clean water and proper sanitation, we see how much it is valued by people who will benefit. They appreciate the prospect of having healthier lives and all the advantages that can bring.’

Please help us continue to go where the need is greatest to provide clean water and sanitation

* Tearfund is a global member of the SWIFT Consortium, which is working to provide water, sanitation and hygiene services to people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya and build capacity to ensure services are sustainable.


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Written by Mark Lang

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