Friday, September 17, 2010

Water project: LDS in DRC

Progress report on the project to bring clean water to Luputa, Democratic Republic of Congo, by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (other posts here and here). Luputa has over 200,000 people but no electricity, no roads, no cars, and no clean water.
Twice a day, as men and teenagers tend their family farms, thousands of women and children walk a mile or more to get water. It comes from polluted sources — muddy pools shared by animals or contaminated springs — but people need the water for drinking, cooking and bathing. To avoid the crowded wait, women often get water during the dark of early morning — only to become victims of assault and rape. 
Locals had searched for 15 years before finding some fresh springs in "nearby" hills, but had no way to bring the water the 19 miles to Luputa. They looked for several years until they met LDS Charities who agreed to work with them. There are approximately 1800 Mormons in the area and growing rapidly.
Digging the trench was the most arduous part of the project. Volunteers hacked their way through the jungle and savannah for 19 miles to dig a trench 18-inches wide and 3-feet deep. Volunteers gathered every day — except Sunday — for more than 900 days to complete the trench. ...

On a good day, the men could dig a distance of 150 meters (165 yards). On other days they made little progress due to tree roots or rocky terrain. Special pipe was fabricated in Kinshasa and shipped to Luputa. Volunteers carried the pipe long distances for installation. ...
Two water towers, two stories each, are being constructed without power tools. Cement, sand and gravel are mixed by hand, hauled by a bucket brigade, hoisted up the tower by hand and poured into forms surrounding the steel-reinforced frame. Sixty-four kilometers, or 40 miles, of smaller trenches have also been dug to tie in more than 80 water stations being built. This will provide water every 500 meters, nearly one-third of a mile....
In the villages farther up-line from Luputa, water is already flowing at the turn of a gauge.
And there is joy. Hearts are tender as many people express their happiness.
"I'm very happy for water that is clean," said Jolie Mularju, mother of three. "I thank LDS Church members for their willing sacrifice. Children will no longer get sick and die."
The work continues at a feverish pace to complete by November, when it is anticipated that Joseph Kabila Kabange, president of the DR Congo, will visit Luputa with a member of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency. 
Work is done through local volunteers and local contractors. Training is provided locally so the system can be kept up. Pipes were built in Kinshasa and transported the 600 miles to Luputa. Funding comes from charitable donations from members and interested parties around the world. More about the goals and principles of LDS welfare projects, and this project in particular, can be found here. More on the difficulty of maintaining water pumps here.

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