Fifty one million Congolese or three fourths of the country’s population do not have access to safe drinking water according to a report released this week by the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP).
The head of UNEP’s Congo office Mr. Hassan Partow noted, “the stark reality is that the DRC has one of the fastest urbanization growth rates in the world and this is not being matched with adequate water and sanitation service delivery”. The study calls for an investment of $169 million over a five year period to upgrade the water delivery infrastructure, especially in urban areas.
Rural Congo is just as threatened by unsafe water as UNICEF’s Congo Director pointed out on World Water Day March 22. Ms. Pierrette Vu Thi stated, “A child living in a Congolese village is four times more likely to drink contaminated water than someone in town.” Current statistics hold that 2 million children under the age of 5 regularly suffer from diarrhea, usually caused by contaminated water in Congo. This makes unsafe water a leading cause of death among Congo’s infants, whose mortality rate is over 20 per cent in
many areas of the country.
Strongly recommended by the U.N. study are undertaking low cost solutions such as communal taps and rainwater catchment systems.
To read the UNEP report Water Issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Challenges and Opportunities go to the following web address: http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/UNEP_DRC_water.pdf
The 90 page report includes an in depth assessment of Regideso, the water supplier for urban Mbandaka and other cities of Equateur Province.