It is difficult to speak of a problem currently facing the Democratic Republic of Congo without a reference to the wars that plagued the land and its people for years. Like is the signature of war, the gain was not worth the pain. The wars and conflicts have laid waste to the few available resources DRC. Despite being one of the wettest nations in Africa, with more than half of the African water reserve, the Democratic Republic of Congo has ironically been unable to cater to its citizens’ clean water needs. A study conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has submitted that more Congolese have died from diarrhea, malaria, and malnutrition than from violence since the war. All these sources of death are problems that are associated with a lack of water.
The state water utility in the DRC does not have the capacity and ability to serve most parts of the country. The state water utility also lacks the capacity to improve the country’s water pumping system, where it is available. These problems are due to a lack of funds to undertake projects to expand and improve the public water utility network. In what is attainable, the state water utility provider has continued pumping water through rusty and decaying pipes to the areas where they are needed and available. According to data by The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN), only an approximate sixty-nine percent of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s urban areas have access to water from the state water utility network.
Left without access to clean and safe water, the locals have taken to drinking unsafe water from streams and ponds. In a country where toilet facilities are lacking, and industrial wastes disposal is not entirely controlled, drinking water from streams and ponds is unsafe for consumption and dangerous to those drinking it. Sadly, the alternative is expensive. A liter of bottled, clean, and safe water costs about a dollar in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, most people without access to clean and safe water make less than two dollars a day, making the purchase of portable bottled water a luxury that they cannot afford.
In the DRC and many African countries, fetching water is a task left to women and children, who can only carry little amounts of water, especially when they have to carry it across distances. This water, contaminated as it mostly is, goes first for drinking before being considered for use in other areas that ensure good hygiene practice. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, only one in every person has adequate and standard toilets. The rest of the people relieve themselves in ways that contaminate the creeks and the rivers, the same sources from which they fetch the water they drink. The water problem has such become a vicious cycle that needs addressing. Children below the age of five have been the biggest victims of this problem as almost one in every ten children in DRC dies before their fifth birthday from diseases related to clean water and hygiene.
Yet, water is not meant to take life but give it. It has been an essential resource for survival from time immemorial. Medically, without the external danger of contaminated water, the absence of water from the body is a medical risk. The body may go for days without food, but it cannot react similarly to a prolonged absence of water. Scientific studies have shown that the lack of water can cause memory impairment and affect the mood of the sufferer. As the brain cannot tell the difference between thirst and water, we sometimes mistaken the craving for water to crave food. Eating when the body does not request would only increase the body sugar level.
For people with little or no access to adequate food due to their economic conditions, filling up on water as an alternative to eating is a welcomed advantage. However, the inability to access both food and water is dangerous and leaves people highly deficient in proper nutrition. AS mentioned earlier, diseases that occur from the consumption of dirty and unsafe water kill more people yearly than any form of violence created by civil and political unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The provision of affordable clean and safe water would aid the physical and mental well-being of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It will also afford the people more time to focus on growing food, earning income, and attending school. These are activities that will help the people in the war against poverty in the country. How is this possible? Children and women spend millions of hours yearly walking to and fro the sources of water access. When the water is provided and made affordable at closer distances to the homes, the time spend accessing clean water is reduced. This will thus help people free up time and energy for other activities such as farming, education, and employment.
When the people can farm more, the problem of food is reduced. When they can earn more income, affording basic necessities like food, clothing, and portable water becomes more possible than already. When the people can get an education and children can stay fit and focused in school, the propensity for the innocent masses to be cheated of their hard-earned income reduces. Thus, it is both liberation and empowerment to provide safe and clean drinking water for drinking and hygienic practice to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
When a community has easy access to clean and affordable water, the women, girls, and children have more time for their lives. The mothers can invest their time in starting a business and earning income to ensure a better future for themselves and their children. With clean water and proper toilet at home and in schools, teenagers and children would no longer have to stay out of school due to water-borne diseases like diarrhea.
It is amazing the privileges that are associated with access to clean water. As simple as these advantages may seem, they lack in the lives of most of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, causing them prolonged days of sickness and death. At ASBL LEF, we are committed to the provision of clean, safe, and affordable water to communities all over the Democratic of Congo. We would raise the fund for these projects from the donations made by our donors at our various fundraising events in Luxembourg. We are committed to showing the people and government of Luxembourg the state of apathy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Join us as we achieve the dream of saving lives in DRC through the provision of clean, safe, and hygienic water, a resource that can preserve life rather than end it.