Residents of the town of Luputa in Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo are celebrating the arrival of clean, fresh water to a region which has known only scarce water from shallow wells since the 1950’s. A dependable water system has been in the works for the last few years but residents lacked the money to complete it.

Congo Water Project Done mormonHumanitarian service missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assessed the situation and determined that the Church was in a position to help.  The Church helped to fund the project.  This took much discussion and examination of what would be required to pipe clean water 19 miles through five communities.  The Church provided more than financial aid.  It provided engineering services.

A water distribution system comprised of smaller pipes will deliver the water throughout the village of Tshiabobo to 40 water stations. All the trenches are hand dug by the people in the villages who will receive the water. On one given day, 83 people were requested to clear foliage to make room for the pipeline, and 206 showed up to work.

A significant benefit of this type of water line is it requires no pump or electricity. Spring-capture systems require virtually no maintenance, and they last three times longer than wells. Even in the dry season, the spring source for the project continues to flow at over six gallons per second.

The people have contributed $3,000, which they used to develop the spring sources. Residents will manage the gravity-fed system through a community water and sanitation board. The board’s responsibility is to ensure water quality, determine fees and perform regular maintenance.

mormon help congoA nine inch pipe feeds water from a nearby source and carries it nine miles to the village of Tshiabobo. After this large pipe was in place, the next phase of the project extends the pipeline another ten miles to Luputa. Once the entire project is complete more than 166,000 people will have clean water.

Update — November 2009

Dancing, shouts of joy and speeches marked the end of a significant milestone for residents recently in several villages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Water finally gushed out from an 18-mile-long pipe to the African villages of Tshiabobo, Mafumba, Kasha, Ibola and will be in Luputa City by next summer.

Members of the project development committee praised the Church for “the end of our misery, for the end of all the difficulties to have a water supply; that we can affirm today has saved our children from the murderous diarrhea and from all of the sicknesses that come from dirty water that have for a long time overwhelmed our people.”

Two more phases have yet to be completed in the Luputa water project. The next phase channels water to Luputa and in the outskirts where 130,000 people live and 34 kilometers from the springs. The trenches for this stage are close to being completed. Water stations will be completed for the small villages of Mafumba, Kasha, and Ibola. Phase three is the final stage of the project, the construction of the distribution network for the people of Luputa.

The objective of the Church’s clean water initiative is to improve the health of communities by providing access to sustainable clean water sources.  Depending on local needs and circumstances, these water sources include wells (or boreholes), water storage and delivery systems, and water purification systems. Since 2002, the Church has helped five million people in over 4,500 communities obtain access to clean water sources.

Clean water projects have enjoyed long-term sustainability because communities are involved in the planning and implementation of each project and community representatives are trained on system maintenance prior to project completion.

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