Ensuring lasting access to drinking water after Ebola
UNICEF has continued its interventions in zones previously affected by Ebola to allow people lasting access to drinking water.
Between 2018 and 2020, the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was the epicentre of an Ebola epidemic which killed around 2,300 people. This epidemic – the tenth and the most serious the country has seen – particularly affected the health zone of Aloya, which was already battling waterborne diseases such as cholera.
Throughout its Ebola response, UNICEF provided people with drinking water and supported health centres by supplying them with essential water, hygiene and health services. Although the end of the epidemic has been declared, UNICEF has continued its community interventions allowing people lasting access to drinking water.
Thanks to the support of the Canadian government and the European Union, UNICEF has created two drinking-water supply networks. “I am more than happy”, says Frank, who comes daily to collect drinking water from the water station installed near to his house.
More than 60 water fountain stations have been installed, providing 50,000 people with access to drinking water. “This project has responded to the greatest need in our community, since health comes before all else”, says the chief of the Aloya community. Water fountains have also been installed in schools and health establishments.
The Aloya Referral Health Centre now benefits from drinking water, which has allowed them to improve the quality of care offered by the different services and ensures patient safety. For Paluku David, laboratory technician in the centre, the process of detecting bacteria using dyes has been facilitated by the new access to running water.
For a long time, the community of Aloya consumed non-drinking water and was threatened by waterborne diseases, which young children are particularly vulnerable to. “Since people have had access to drinking water, we have registered almost no cases of cholera”, says Solange, who ensures hands are washed on entering the health centre.
Since water fountains have been installed close to people’s homes, the population’s living conditions have significantly improved. “I am glad we no longer have water issues”, says Tsongo, whilst filling a large carton of water which his mother will bring home.
Zépherin understood the importance of drinking water for the health and wellbeing of his community, and so he volunteered himself to ensure the maintenance of the water fountains. “I am proud of my small contribution to managing the water in order to make it sustainable for future generations”, he explains, whilst unblocking a water valve.
Thanks to the support of the Canadian government and the European Union, 50,000 people, 8 schools and 8 health establishments now benefit from lasting access to drinking water.