Drinking water to improve the lives of communities

The access to drinking water is a basic right and a prerequisite to the realization of many other human rights.

Une femme remplit son seau avec de l'eau
05 October 2021

In Bulenga, a health area in the province of South-Kivu, access to drinking water has been a game changer for residents. For a long time, the residents consumed water they found in the bottom of pits, endangering their health and the health of their children. “We have been struck by cholera but since we have access to drinking water, our families are living healthy lives”, explains Irene filling her bucket with water at one of the new standpipes.

Des panneaux solaires dans une végétation verte

In order to eradicate cholera from risk areas like Bulenga, it is necessary to invest in sustainable sources of drinking water. With support from the Swiss Cooperation, UNICEF installed a high-flow spring water catchment, which now supplies drinking water to six villages. Thanks to an electronic pump powered by 65 solar panels, the water from the spring is directed to a reservoir before being redistributed to the 25 standpipes installed in the neighbouring villages.

Un homme accroupi sur un réservoir d'eau

Innocent, 28 years of age, is on the water management committee. He is also responsible for opening the reservoir in order to distribute water to the standpipes at times preset by the committee. “Each family gives 500 frank per month for maintenance costs in the event of a breakdown so that the community can have drinking water constantly”, he explains.

Un homme nettoie une borne fontaine

The entire community is also mobilized to ensure cleanliness at the standpipes and takes part in the efficient management of water. “Since I was a child, I had never seen drinking water run in Bulenga”, explains Benjamin, 62, who volunteered to clean the standpipe installed near his home.

Une femme remplit son bidon d'eau

Today, nearly 22.000 people in six different villages have access to safe drinking water. “Previously, we did not have access to drinking water and we had to travel very long distances to find water”, explains Veronique who came, with her grandchildren, to fetch water a few steps from her house.

Un enfant qui tient ses bidons d'eau

In households without running water, the burden of water chore falls, disproportionately, on women and children, especially girls. Collecting water can interfere with studies, sometimes even preventing them from going to school altogether, and expose girls to physical, sexual, morale, and psychological violence.

Catchment plays a vital part in the zone by ensuring close access to quality drinking water. It has significantly reduced the incidence of water-borne diseases while protecting girls from many risks.