Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is only one country away from being the worst place on earth for life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living.

Potentially Africa’s richest country, the Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered merciless exploitation and conflict over its vast resources of timber, minerals, oil and gas.

In 1997, DRC plunged into a many-sided war, at one point involving armies of six African nations. By 2002, more than 4 million people had died: the deadliest conflict since the Second World War.

Lack of access to safe water, sanitation and healthcare is compounded by humidity and high rainfall – an ideal breeding ground for epidemics.

Region

South Kivu.

Who’s being helped

Thousands of latrines have been built by the community working together, as the area didn’t have any toilets before the project began.

The project

Tearfund’s Disaster Management Team began work in South Kivu by raising awareness about the benefits of sanitation and hygiene. They then distributed tools to groups of households, to enable them to work together to dig a pit and build their own latrine. The Disaster Management Team also distributed hand-washing buckets.

Sustainability

The project has encouraged community members to use locally-available materials for the floor, walls and roof.

Benefits

Statistics from the local Health Centre indicate that malaria rates have decreased by 78% and diarrhoea rates by 53%.

Changing lives

Bawili lost her husband due to civil war, and had to flee to Tanzania as a refugee. When she returned to DRC as a widow, she didn’t have the strength or resources to build a toilet for her family.

But we brought the community together to learn about sanitation – and, at a community health club meeting, they voted to help Bawili build a toilet.

‘My daughter was attacked because we didn’t have a toilet. Having a loo has brought  dignity, privacy and safety to the whole family.’