Water for Health in the Territory of Mambasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Project location: CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, Mambasa
Project start date: July 2012 - Project end date: August 2014
Project number: 2012-023
Beneficiary: Cesvi Fondazione ONLUS



In 2011, Cesvi intervened in the territory of Mambasa (Ituri District, Province Orientale) in order to address structural deficiencies and coverage gaps in terms of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) through a multi-year development project that was mainly funded by the European Union. More recently, the recrudescence of clashes between Mai Mai rebels and the FARDC for the control of Mambasa has put this area at the frontline of internal displacement and humanitarian needs. In this context, Cesvi decided to address the emergency by extending its WASH activities to those areas affected by dramatic population movements. This has been possible through the launch of a new emergency project in January 2013, which is mainly funded by the United Nations.


Progress and results

The first project entailed both construction works and WASH awareness programmes, and has been undertaken with the full collaboration of the local community and authorities. The technical part and the general coordination (logistics, administrative and budget facilitation, reporting) were managed by Cesvi, while the sensitization and training activities were delegated to the local NGO PPSSP (Programme de Promotion des Soins de Santé Primaires), CESVI's implementation partner. The population actively participated in different project phases, from the identification and targeting of the construction sites to the offer and provision of local building materials and manpower. Despite the community engagement, the majority of supplies destined to the construction of the wells was purchased from quarry-workers that could ensure good quality, but the population still contributed to the collection of local materials for 12 sources, 19 wells and 32 latrine doors.

2.1 Access to drinking water and sanitation

Up until now, 12 protected water sources have been set up in the ‘Aires de Santé' (AS) of Makeke, Bella and Lukaya, among which 9 are simple sources and 3 are endowed with reservoirs. The beneficiaries of this action are 1.406 households, corresponding to 6.991 users.

All the 19 wells have been equipped with hand pumps. It has been decided to adopt the ‘Afridev' model, which is characterised by easy maintenance and widespread utilization in Eastern DRC. In this way, spare parts can be easily found in the main local markets. Furthermore, Cesvi's engineers chose 3 technicians for each AS and trained them on functioning and maintenance aspects. The enquiries on the attendance of the water points show that on average each household consumes 2 litres per person a day for drinking and cooking. This weak rate of consumption is due to the habit of collecting just one container of water (20 litres) per household a day, because of the difficulty of storing the drinking water in safe places. However, water is also collected for other purposes on an ad hoc basis, as and when necessary.

CESVI enquiry report confirmed that in the target areas the drinking water coverage increased from 26% to 95% and that 73% of the users know their Management Committee of reference. This means that the community structures set up by Cesvi and PPSSP are well recognized and benefit from the consensus of the population.

Turning to the sanitary installations, the majority of health centres and primary schools were already equipped with semi durable latrines, built by CESVI local partner PPSSP in 2003. Therefore, in accordance with the ‘Zone de Santé' (ZS) CESVI has decided to meet the needs advanced by the community by targeting also the secondary schools. This allows to support a segment of the population which is numerically smaller but whose efforts towards academic specialization are so important for development. Another remarkable aspect is that the blocs have been made accessible to disabled people.


2.2 Hygiene promotion

The hygiene promotion campaign had two main purposes: (1) the transfer of know-how in terms of hygiene practices to community leaders and (2) the direct promotion of good hygiene and sanitation attitudes among the population. Different activities have been carried out to this end.

In each AS, the community leaders and the staff of health centres and schools have been involved. Thanks to their key role within the community, these people were identified as the main recipients of training in the field of environmental hygiene. Their support has then resulted in the diffusion of their knowledge among the targeted community.

Health agents concurred to the achievement of mass sensitization by raising community awareness on problems identified by the community itself. They also helped the beneficiaries plan their own solutions in terms of adoption of responsible health behaviours. This process was complemented by household visits, in which families were sensitized on water and sanitation aspects directly at their homes. The main topics covered in this sessions were the importance of sanitary installations, the correct use of latrines, drinking water, the maintenance of the water points, personal and environmental hygiene, hand washing, the importance of prenatal and pre-school consultations. During the ‘sensitization months', 745 sessions were conducted and 38.502 people involved, the majority of which were school-aged boys and girls, who are not only targets but also means of transmission of habits and knowledge to their families.

The sensitization activity also included the distribution of hygienic kits to the pupils of all the primary schools within the project's radius of action. Overall, CESVI has dispensed 6.000 cups, 6 tons of bar soap, 2.000 pieces of underwear, 4.000 towels, 1.000 plastic buckets. Moreover, 1.113 girls in the age of their first period received feminine hygiene kits, were instructed on their use by woman sensitizers to preserve their privacy, and were also trained on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention.


Next steps

In February 2012, the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) have launched a military campaign in the Ituri district to stop the incursions of the Mai Mai rebels, a militia group bearing local territorial claims. The clashes erupted in March 2012 and caused the displacement of numerous local communities toward villages considered more secure on the Mambasa-NyaNya axis. These population movements created severe and generalized vulnerability.

Cesvi recognized the water and sanitation sector as the priority to avoid the outbreak of water-borne epidemics, and decided to extend its precedent activities to those Zones de Santé affected by the emergency. This is being realized thanks to a new project funded by the United Nations which has started in January 2013. Since the methodology previously-applied has proved effective, the partnership with the local NGO PPSSP is now carrying on. On the strength of its past experience and consolidated knowledge of the local environment, Cesvi is pursuing the same participatory approach and community-based needs assessment.

The expected results for this project can be summarized as follows:

8.500 people gain access to drinking water in conditions of security and dignity
10.000 people gain access to improved sanitation in conditions of security and dignity
20.000 people become aware of hygiene good practices
2.000 vulnerable households benefit from the distribution of soap.

The ongoing project involves the construction of 5 wells and 15 protected water sources in 7 villages on the Mambasa-NyaNya axis. The wells will be constructed in the main urban centres, where population density does not allow to easily manage a sufficient number of single sources. Moreover, in these localities it will be easier to find retailers interested in selling spare parts.

CESVI's partner PPSSP will organize focus groups to consult all the community sectors on the location and conception of the water points. The places will be chosen not only in accordance with technical criteria, but also taking into consideration the protection needs of the vulnerable people (women, girls and kids) who traditionally take care of the procurement of water for the household. In general, efforts will be made to place the new water points next to public service buildings such as clinics and schools, so as to reduce security risks and favour the weakest population groups.

A census of the latrines in the zone of intervention has also been promoted to identify 2,000 beneficiary families needing sanitary facilities. The households have been chosen taking into account their level of vulnerability, based on the number of children under 5, the number of family members with HIV/AIDS, disability or other illnesses, and whether the families are women- or elderly-led). The family latrines will be directly constructed by the project beneficiaries with the training and help of our staff, using local materials to ensure their reproducibility after the end of the action.

Finally, information sessions on WASH themes will be organized at different levels. On the one hand, PPSSP will identify and mobilize the community leaders in each locality to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in terms of hygiene practices. On the other, PPSSP will approach the entire communities and organize WASH sensitization meetings in public places. It has also been considered to utilize animation techniques such as dance, theatre, music and the involvement of the public.

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