HH is excited to report on developments in the remote reaches of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Oxfam-led Swift Consortium has restored water to over 80,000 residents in the town of Kasongo. The project successfully used limited resources (including cola as a cleaning agent!) in its rehabilitation of defunct water infrastructure established by Belgian colonists in the 1950s.
For 25 years prior to this project, the residents of Kasongo had to walk 5km in order to access unsafe water from a local stream. This walk was undertaken by women and children, who were expected to transport sufficient water to meet the requirements of their households - taking 2 hours out of their days, and requiring back-breaking, heavy lifting.
The logistics of the project were challenging, with materials being loaded onto boats after long and treacherous trips on unsealed roads littered with fallen trees. These conditions and the progress of the project were documented by Nathanael Hollands from the Swift Consortium in a series of fascinating photographs that appear on the Guardian website.
The aims and outcomes of the project align with many of the key principles HH seeks to implement in our own work: providing safe drinking water, enabling access to functional sanitation, facilitating the washing of people (especially children), collaborating with local partners, the employment and training of local trades, the use of readily at hand and repurposed materials wherever possible, and the establishment of ongoing maintenance regimes in order to safeguard the future impact of the project.
In Kasongo, Swift Consortium aimed to achieve what our ongoing work in Diepsloot, Nepal and Bangladesh also aims to do: the alleviation and disruption of the poverty cycle. By reducing the risk of exposure to waterborne diseases, keeping children in school because they are healthy, and reducing travel times to water sources, such projects help to establish the possibility of a step into a healthier and more prosperous future.