WASH Update

Post a Comment » Written on April 1st, 2013     
Filed under: Ground Update, Missionary Update, News & Updates

The World Vision WASH team at a capped water source in the Bokonzo neighborhood.

Written by Christine Buettgen, short-term missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo

WASH is a World Vision program that works to provide communities with clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education. This is a priority for World Vision in Gemena because clean water and sanitation are the two biggest factors contributing to child mortality rates and the stunting of community development.

This week, we welcomed two World Vision visitors to Gemena: Emmanuel Opong, regional WASH director for Southern Africa Region, and Sandy Ngilambi, WASH manager DRC. They assessed our current water sources and assisted in the design of a WASH project plan to bring water to the 380,000 residents of Gemena.

I asked them a few questions at the end of two long days of water source site visits and project design.

What new insights do you have after this WASH site visit?

Our visit has given us a view of existing strengths and viability of pursuing other technologies in order to provide water to all. Our recommendations are now formed by facts on the ground. This is a bigger system than most other WASH programs. Our goal is to access enough clean water to serve 380,000 people in this peri-urban area.

In what ways will World Vision address the issue of community ownership in relation to the work to improve water sources?

Our community partners form foundational structures which we work within to map different types of water systems. Our goal is to leverage existing institutions instead of creating new structures.

What will be unique features of the WASH program in Gemena?

We will be utilizing multiple delivery systems and multiple technologies to respond to the needs of the community. Where geology allows us to dig a deep well, we will use that in order to provide 25 liters per person per day. We will also be utilizing springs and hand drilled wells at schools and health clinics. We will employ appropriate low-cost technology, always with the goal of supplementing and complimenting existing water structures.

Of course the sanitation/hygiene promotion component of this program is critical to bring change. If we can successfully co-create as we design water systems for Gemena, we will start to get people to think differently about water. Paying for water will be a new concept, but something that can be adopted as a cultural norm with sensitization and time. We will be using the church partners to educate about the importance of valuing clean water and using Biblical examples of communities valuing water.

What is most exciting to you about this particular program in Gemena?

This is a big project with many opportunities.

Great work has already been done by the community partners. These are groups of people with talent and knowledge that we can already tap into, so we aren’t starting from scratch. Moving forward from the work that was done 30 years ago, we are responding to the emerging changes that are occurring. We need to make sure people are not held back by old ideas, but spring forward, considering present conditions and future needs of the community. We are now asking new questions, expecting new and creative responses. Some might believe it is impossible to bring water to 380,000 people where the infrastructure poses so many challenges, but World Vision has succeeded in this before, and they will succeed again here in Gemena.

The Northwest Region World Vision Office is determined, with the support of its partners to bring potable water to Gemena. Bringing water will bring new life, and this is exactly what we are bound and determined to see.

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