At the start of this year, the executive director of Technologies Appropriées pour le Congo, Association Sans But Lucrative (TAC Asbl), headquartered in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reached out to Bread and Water for Africa® with a request for assistance in providing clean water to hundreds of students in the beleaguered and impoverished country formerly known as Zaire.
A lot has happened since then following our pilot project with TAC Asbl to provide clean water to a primary school on the edge of Lake Tumba where on a daily basis students were risking their health – their very life even – drinking untreated water directly from the lake.
“The school has no drinking water easily accessible to students or staff,” reported TAC executive director Lucian Beele. “The lack of clean drinking water sources forces the students to drink contaminated water from Lake Tumba.”
In fact, he told us at the time as a result of drinking water from the lake, “not long ago, a cholera epidemic claimed the lives of many of these students.”
In March, Lucian reported that with the grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa® TAC Asbl was able to drill “a well equipped with an India Mark II human-powered water pump for the use of the school and the residents of the surrounding neighborhood.”
In order to make certain its reliability far into the future, Lucian noted that local technicians were trained and equipped with the necessary tools to maintain the pump and a well management committee was formed to ensure the sustainable management of the well.
In addition, the grant also allowed TAC Asbl to implement an 8-week WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) program in which about two dozen community leaders including the school principal, teachers and members of the school’s parent committee were trained in WASH practices.
All 1,500 students at the school were instructed on proper sanitation and hygiene practices in their classrooms, and TAC Asbl teams visited groups of families in the surrounding community at a rate of 20 per day, totaling approximately 500 individuals, Lucian told us.
“This project has been a great solution for the school in terms of drinking water supply and will contribute a lot to the health and education of the students at the school who were often victim of waterborne diseases,” says Lucian.
“The collection of water, which took several hours each day, was an additional factor affecting the children’s education,” he noted. “The girls, who were most often responsible for this task, had to travel long distances to the unprotected water point, which forced them to miss other lessons that were being taught during their absence.
“Now the students will no longer face these multiple difficulties and fall victim to waterborne diseases thanks to this project.”
Following the completion of the Lake Tumba project, thanks to our supporters we were able to fund two more water well projects at the Ngema Institute and Bobwala Primary School with 750 and 650 students, respectively, as well as 1,200 more in the surrounding villages – a total of 2,500 individuals being served by the two wells.
“Both schools do not have easily accessible drinking water for students or staff besides what can be transported from the source to a sometimes unprotected distance,” Lucian stated in his grant application. “The lack of access to drinking water forces the students to consume non-drinking water without any prior treatment which has consequences on their education and the majority of the students are often victims of water related diseases which becomes an important cause of their absenteeism at school.”
And with the completion of the two projects last June, the headmaster of the Ngema Institute, Mr. Joseph Imama Ntotele stated:
“This project has been greeted with great joy by the students and staff of both schools.
“This project is considered a gift from heaven and we thank God for listening to our prayers as our pupils were often victims of waterborne diseases and we also ask God to bless Bread and Water for Africa® which agreed to subsidize this project, as well as all its supporters
And with the success of our initial projects, we are eager to embark on a larger project with the help of our supporters around the U.S.: “Ecole Ami de WASH” (WASH Friendly School) to fund the construction of six more wells at five primary schools and a secondary school in the Bikoro region to benefit 6,500 more students and members of the communities surrounding the schools through what Lucian calls “School Drinking Water Supply Project for a Healthy Education.”
“The lack of access to drinking water forces pupils to consume non-potable water without any prior treatment, which has consequences for their education, and the majority of pupils often fall victim to water-related illnesses, becoming a major cause of their absenteeism from school,” he told us in his grant request this fall.
“Against this backdrop, a project to supply drinking water to these six schools is not only justified, but urgent,” he added. “By improving access to drinking water, the project will have a positive impact on the health, education and well-being of pupils and school staff, helping to break the cycle of poverty and inequality in the region.”
While the short and medium term expected outcomes are to provide convenient access to safe drinking water, improved hygiene awareness and increased school attendance, Lucian points out that long term benefits include sustainable community development and positive socio-impacts.
“Continued access to drinking water will promote the sustainable development of local communities, improving living conditions, health and education for future generations. Improving drinking water infrastructure can stimulate local economic development, notably by reducing school absenteeism and enabling adults to concentrate on other productive activities.”
In 2023, Bread and Water for Africa® completed a total of 54 water well/clean water programs in Ethiopia, the DRC, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia located at schools, orphanages, healthcare facilities and community centers are today serving more than 26,000 individuals.
For 2024, our hope is to provide clean water to even more impoverished people desperate to not risk their health and life when they take a drink of water – and our project in the DRC with TAC Asbl is a great way to start off the new year!