, 27 April, 2020 / 6:02 PM
The initiative by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the humanitarian arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), to provide water has been recognized by the inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Tshumbe diocese who are beneficiaries of the organization’s drilling of boreholes in the region, a Church official has reported.
“The town of Tshumbe, seat of the diocese of Tshumbe, in the province of Sankuru, has just been equipped with a water supply system. The construction of this water system is fruit of the generosity of the American Catholic faithful through Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the dynamism of Bishop Nicolas Djomo of the Diocese of Tshumbe,” the Chancellor of the diocese of Tshumbe, Fr. Michaël Shosongo Kasendo reported Saturday, April 25.
“This water supply system is the second that the city of Tshumbe has ever seen,” Fr. Kasendo said adding that “this new system replaces an old one put in place by Missionaries, which had only a castle and served only the homes of the clergy, the hospital and a few inhabitants of the Catholic Mission.”
He added, “the consumption of this drinking water contributes effectively to the reduction of water-borne diseases, which have continued to decimate people, especially children.”
While DRC holds 50 percent of Africa’s water reserves, 33 million people in rural parts of the country lack access to quality drinking water, UNICEF reported adding that despite sustained efforts, only 52 percent of the population has access to an improved water source and 29 percent has improved sanitation facilities.
Explaining how the water project came about, Fr. Kasendo said, “In 2010, Bishop Djomo welcomed to Tshumbe a delegation of seven donors who were to finance projects for the construction of schools, health centres, and other infrastructure after the 1998-2003 war through CRS. However, the donors realized that the town had no drinking water despite its dense population hence their decision to launch a water supply project for the area.”
After field studies by American and Congolese engineers and, "given that the river water was polluted and its treatment would be quite costly due to the difficulty of continuously supplying the chemicals indispensable for the said treatment, the option of drilling the boreholes was prioritized,” the Cleric stated in the report published on the website of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO).
Recounting how the drilling process was carried out, the Congolese Cleric said, “The water was found at a depth of between 72 and 96 metres, depending on the site. In order to be able to adequately meet the population's needs, this team of engineers decided to drill four boreholes and to install four castles (three of which have a capacity of 50 m3 and one of 24 m3) next to each borehole.”
“They also decided to install a solar-powered pump in each station to draw water from the subsoil and pump into the castles,” he said and added, “They also provided generators in each borehole as a solar backup in case of failure especially during the dry season. Finally, they have planned the construction of 120 standpipes to bring water closer to households.”
A team of 55 young people is in charge of the distribution of the water which is sold to the public twice daily, 06 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“A 20-litre canister is sold at 100 F (USD 0.059). The income from this sale helps to pay the vendors and to buy diesel to run the generators when necessary,” the Priest reported.
CRS is also constructing another drinking water station at the hospital in Dikungu, a village located 12 km from the town of Tshumbe. This facility will include components similar to those of Tshumbe: a borehole, a water tower and a solar-powered pump.
Construction of the drinking water supply system for the town of Tshumbe began in October 2016 and was completed in April 2020.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa