Water for life - and survival

The Ebola epidemic continues to claim victims and access to water is a key concern for people living in Goma.

Bibiane Mouangue (translated from French by Johanna McCalmont)
24 October 2019


Nadine (20) waits patiently to fill her water cans, just like dozens of other women grouped around a drinking water point in Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Nadine may seem relaxed this morning, but it hasn't always been like that.

Just a few months ago, the young mother had to walk more than 10 km every day to fetch water from the closest standpipe. 'It took me all day to get 20 litres of water for everyone at home,' she recalls.

Since the Ebola epidemic was declared in her province in August 2018, Nadine has been extremely worried about her family's health. Despite the fact it's close to Lake Kivu, Goma doesn't have a reliable drinking water supply. 'When we heard we needed to wash our hands to avoid catching Ebola, we wondered how we'd manage without water,' explains Nadine who lives in a district that doesn't have any water supply infrastructure.

To help local people carefully follow hygiene requirements and protect themselves against Ebola, UNICEF has installed water supply points in the most vulnerable parts of the city. The installation of a supply point near her house means that Nadine is no longer forced to travel long distances and the young mother can also be confident about the quality of water she uses.


Because drinking water supplies are scarce, and water from Lake Kivu is unfit for consumption, the local population is at high risk from many diseases. Monique, who manages one of the water supply points set up by UNICEF, is aware of how important it is for her community to have access to drinking water. 'We'll be pleased to see the back of Ebola, along with other diseases caused by the lack of clean water,' she said.

UNICEF and its partners have provided boreholes and water hydrants in communities that have recorded the highest number of Ebola patients. Since the epidemic started, more than 22,000 people have been provided with access to drinking water.

UNICEF’s response to the Ebola epidemic is supported by the World Bank, the European Commission – European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid OperationsGavi - the Vaccine Alliance, the United States Agency for International Development, the Central Emergency Response Fund and the Government of Japan. UNICEF is also supported by the German Committee for UNICEF, the World Bank Group’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, the United Kingdom and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.