Dancing, shouts of joy and speeches marked the end of a significant milestone for residents recently in several villages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Water finally gushed out from an 18-mile-long pipe to the African villages of Tshiabobo, Mafumba, Kasha, Ibola and will be in Luputa City by next summer.
People of these communities have worked and prayed for nearly 20 years to find an organization or government to finance and construct a water system. Action for Development of Infrastructure in Middle Rural (ADIR), the project contractor, brought the idea to the attention of humanitarian missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in early 2007. The project was approved by then Church President Gordon B. Hinckley later that year
Before the project was completed, women shoulderd the burden of carrying water to their homes. One villager said: “You realize that I am liberated from the servitude that I was tied to by water. I am finished going long distances of two kilometers. Truly this is blessing from on high for me and my whole family.”
Members of the project development committee praised the Church for “the end of our misery, for the end of all the difficulties to have a water supply; that we can affirm today has saved our children from the murderous diarrhea and from all of the sicknesses that come from dirty water that have for a long time overwhelmed our people.”
Governor Alphonse Ngoyi Kasanji of the Kasaï Oriental Province said, “This is sufficient proof that your church understands that one has life through water, life is given when water is clean and water takes away life when it is not clean.”
Two more phases have yet to be completed in the Luputa water project. The next phase channels water to Luputa and in the outskirts where 130,000 people live and 34 kilometers from the springs. The trenches for this stage are close to being completed. Water stations will be completed for the small villages of Mafumba, Kasha, and Ibola. Phase three is the final stage of the project, the construction of the distribution network for the people of Luputa.
According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people lack access to clean water. Those without clean water often suffer from water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and typhoid. The objective of the Church’s clean water initiative is to improve the health of communities by providing access to sustainable clean water sources. Depending on local needs and circumstances, these water sources include wells (or boreholes), water storage and delivery systems, and water purification systems. Since 2002, the Church has helped five million people in over 4,500 communities obtain access to clean water sources.
Clean water projects have enjoyed long-term sustainability because communities are involved in the planning and implementation of each project and community representatives are trained on system maintenance prior to project completion.