Perusi Florence and her brother Tuyambaze will start the year 2012 with a burden relieved. They will no longer walk an hour to fetch water every morning. They will no longer have to pay 2,000 Uganda Shillings (the currency of choice in this area of DRC equivalent to about 75 US cents) per month to collect water. They will be able to step outside the home that they share with their grandmother and fill their jerricans with the rain that fell the day before.
While rain falls like clockwork every afternoon throughout most of the year, Florence and her brother live in an area that is water stressed. People use whatever water source is closest and easy to access. That could be piped water at a community faucet, but more often than not it is surface water running in streams after the rain and in areas near Virunga National Park, those streams are many times within the park. Water becomes the focal point of health and sanitation, the workload of women and children, household economy and also conservation of the park and the mountain gorillas.
This past week, all IGCP staff based in Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda gathered in Bunagana, DRC, to launch ’20 Tanks for 20 Years of IGCP’. It was an opportunity for our staff with experience in rainwater harvesting structures and community governance to take the first steps with community associations in DRC to construct household rainwater collection tanks. We also brought the expertise of four members of the Rwandan community association, Imbere Heza, who have built over a hundred similar household tanks near Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and all are functional, serving an average of 4 households apiece. We were also joined by Kanyamaharage, Community Conservation Warden for Virunga National Park.
At the end of this campaign the goals are more than just the 20 household tanks, the goal is that there are Congolese community associations that are fully trained in the construction of the tanks, who can be mobilized to build many more. It is also the goal of this campaign to link the household rainwater harvesting tanks with communal rainwater harvesting tanks. From our experience in Rwanda, the affect that the communal rainwater harvesting tanks has on both communities and the park is increased when they are combined with satellite household rainwater harvesting tanks.
The launch that took place this week included the construction of two household rainwater harvesting tanks, which will be built by the members of Imbere Heza and members from several Congolese associations that are undergoing the training. These two tanks in particular were funded by contributions from IGCP staff, voluntarily deducted from our salaries throughout the year.
As for Tuyambaze and his younger sister, they plan to start 2012 with more time to work in their fields and without having to pay the 2,000 Shillings a month for water, they hope they can earn enough to buy a goat, and send Florence back to school. We will be following up on Tuyambaze and Florence, as well as the other recipients of the household rainwater tanks and the four communal tanks in the coming year, and what the affect will be on entries into the park for water access. Many thanks to those of you who have donated to this very valuable project!
Additional photos can be found on the IGCP Facebook page.