Water is Life

“We shall not finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria or any other infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation and basic health care.”
— Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

In Search of Water-

Primary School Director Papa Kikongo Baba Delbert checks on children fetching water to rebuild the collapsed classrooms due to heavy rain.

Primary School Director Papa Kikongo Baba Delbert checks on children fetching water to rebuild the collapsed classrooms due to heavy rain.

Water is as necessary for life as the air we breathe.

That’s true in America and around the world. The United Nations says that a human being needs 50 liters of water per day to prepare meals and to have enough for personal hygiene. 50 liters of water are necessary in order to avoid diseases. But in Kandale, fetching water can be a punishing experience. Children as young as 6 years old, leave their homes early in the morning with their buckets and bidons to begin the long walk to the water source. At the time of day when they are supposed to be getting ready to go to school, they are instead working to get water for the entire family.

Children who must travel long distances to collect water for their families often miss hours of school each day or miss out on education altogether. In Kandale, going to fetch water means descending a steep hill at the edge of the village, maneuvering a narrow path which can become slippery during the nine-month rainy season. At the bottom of the hill, a spring emerges from the hillside. The children fill their containers one at a time. And then they wash-up in the muddy pool beneath the spring. Finally, they begin the long climb back up the hillside for their return home. The time spent attending to basic needs such as fetching water is a major impediment to children’s education in Kandale.

Absenteeism-

A child’s day in Kandale begins with chores like fetching water and pounding maize for cooking.

A child’s day in Kandale begins with chores like fetching water and pounding maize for cooking.

Children who must travel long distances to collect water for their families often miss hours of school each day or miss out on education altogether. In Kandale going to fetch water means descending a steep hill at the edge of the village, maneuvering a narrow path which can become slippery during the nine-month rainy season. At the bottom of the hill, a spring emerges from the hillside. And the children fill their containers one at the time. And then they take the opportunity to wash-up in the muddy pool beneath the spring. Then they begin the long climb back up the hillside for their return home. The time spent attending to basic needs such as fetching water is a major impediment to children’s education in Kandale.

Women and Girls-

Most of the burden of fetching water falls on women and children.

Most of the burden of fetching water falls on women and children.

Many girls miss school when they have their periods, and some drop out altogether because they have no access to water during menstruation.

Studies suggest that girls’ enrollment rates increase by 15 percent when they have access to clean water.

Most of the burden of fetching water falls on women and children.  They spend long hours each day trekking steep hills back and forth with very heavy loads of water. A jerry can containing enough water for one person per day weighs 40 pounds. Women miss out not only on income-producing activities, but also on being able to care for their children.

Bricks Curing -

The stabilized bricks need to be irrigated for 3 days to cure.

The stabilized bricks need to be irrigated for 3 days to cure.

Brickmaking is one of REVE Kandale’s main activities for income generation and our school buildings project. We use a mixture of clay with a small percentage of cement without water to make stabilized bricks. However, once the bricks are produced, they need to be watered heavily for three days to cure them before use. In 2018, REVE Kandale produced 17,000 bricks. These bricks allowed for the construction of a multi-purpose education center within a record time of three months. Although Kandale receives nine months of heavy rain, the lack of a catchment system slows our progress.

Water Solution

Poly tanks for rain catchment system.

Poly tanks for rain catchment system.

The community in Kandale is now searching for new means to ensure a safe and reliable supply of water.

A catchment system that can capture water during the rainy season offers the quickest solution. Two 5,000-liter poly tanks capturing water from the roofs of the new multipurpose building or the church would provide water for brickmaking and help satisfy some of the community’s needs for drinking water and cooking.

Over the long-term, a solar-powered pump placed at the existing spring that emerges from the steep hillside outside Kandale could bring water to Kandale 12 months a year and provide for all of Kandale’s water needs.

REVE Kandale: In Search of Water in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - video