Poor access to clean water combined with poor sanitation is one of the leading causes of illness in the Nebobongo region, where the vast majority of people have no access to clean water. The two heath districts that Nebobongo Hospital is responsible for have a population of over 270,000 people settled into 473 villages. There are 912 known water sources that are used by this population, but only 47 of them are protected from contamination. It is estimated that at least 90% of the population are drinking dirty water every day.
Lacking clean water leads to chronic infections from parasites and diseases like typhoid and salmonella. Infections can contribute to severe illnesses, malnutrition and in some cases, death. Treatment for the variety of water-borne ailments is relatively expensive for an extremely impoverished population. Nebobgono Hospital can cure these infections, but without fixing the root cause of contaminated water supplies they are guaranteed to come back in a vicious cycle that drains resources from the poor population and the hospital treating them.
The need for improving access to clean water became even more apparent as a life-or-death issue when the annual spike in malaria cases at the onset of rainy season coincided with an outbreak of water-born salmonella in 2013 and 2016. This combination proved especially fatal for small children sickening thousands and leading to hundreds of deaths in the Nebobongo region alone.
The Congolese church that runs Nebobongo Hospital has a solution to efficiently bring clean water to many villages around the area and they have a proven track record. Many villages near Nebobongo have been established near a natural spring which serves as their water source. In most cases the water coming up from the ground is reasonably clean. The problem lies with spring runoff containing contaminates like feces of wild animals and even people. The water becomes contaminated with parasites and disease. By sealing the spring with concrete and directing the flow of water through a pipe, the Nebobongo team can eliminate the contamination in the spring. This solution has been in use in the area for decades and with no moving parts it is simple to maintain. By having each community contribute sand, gravel and manpower, the hospital simply needs to help provide the cement and technical expertise. The cost for us to bring clean water to a village is about $750. That’s it. $750 can bring an entire community a sustainable source of clean water for less than the cost of the latest iPhone.
We have already done a beta test of this method and proven that it works in a Pygmy village near Nebobongo. They have observed a significant reduction in parasitic diseases and when the region was in the middle of the most recent salmonella epidemic of 2016, not a single person from this village got sick. We believe these are incredible results for such a small cost and want to help the hospital bring clean water to all their surrounding communities.
In phase one, we hope to bring clean water to 20 villages at a total cost of $15,000. In order for this program to scale up into a regional effort it is also crucial for us to help provide the new truck to Nebobongo Hospital to transport the cement to remote villages. However, in the meantime, there are a few dozen villages close enough to the hospital for the program to get started. Please consider donating to this cause, or even better getting a group of friends, your church, youth group or small group together to bring clean water to an entire village. Through our partnership we can improve the lives of thousands of people in rural Congo.
Cost for phase one: $15,000 to bring clean water to the first 20 communities.