With support from the European Union humanitarian aid and civil protection (ECHO), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is building and rehabilitating 25 water points in Ndjoukou sub-prefecture, close to the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo).
“Since the rehabilitation of the water point, the population drinks safe water,” says Néré Gogamba, head of Goulia village, one of the villages benefiting from the project. “It has reduced the community’s suffering. There is a common saying here: water is life.”
Drinking a yellowish colour
A lack of clean drinking water has resulted in the spread of waterborne diseases in the area, and in 2016 the Ministry of Public Health declared a cholera outbreak originating from Ndjoukou.
“Before, the population of my village drank water from the Ngoudja spring,” says Thomas Wirth, head of Kassia village in Ndjoukou. “But we did not really want to drink it due to the fact that it was yellowish colour.”
But it was the only spring in the village, so they simply had no other choice. As a result, diarrhoea and similar diseases were regular occurrences. The rehabilitated water points in the area have led to a noticeable decrease of waterborne diseases, he observes.
Returning to ruins
The construction and rehabilitation of the water points here is part of a larger project funded by ECHO, and implemented by NRC, in Kemo prefecture.
In 2014, inter-communal tensions drove many people from the area across a river to neighbouring DR Congo. Now that the situation in the area has started to stabilise, some refugees have returned. Many of are finding their homes destroyed, with little basic services to help them recover.
With the support from ECHO, NRC is also helping to set up 350 new houses and 50 latrines. We’re also building sanitation facilities in six schools, a health centre and a maternity ward.
Tension among communities is an obstacle for more displaced families waiting to return, and NRC has helped set up protection committees to restore social cohesion in the area.