Scarcity of water sources in areas surrounding Virunga National Park leads bordering populations to turn towards the few water sources inside the Park, a situation not ideal for people or wildlife conservation. IGCP, with support from the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration continues to implement its rainwater harvesting programme. Under this program IGCP provides rainwater harvesting tanks to the communities around the Park area, trains the community on household water tank construction, establishment and training of water user committees on issues of water governance, water tank cleaning and maintenance, as well as water treatment. For more information, see Gorilla Water documentary at https://www.youtube.com/user/TheIGCP.
Since its inception around Virunga in 2011, when IGCP and donors celebrated the programme’s 20 years with the construction of 20 household tanks, the project has constructed 4 communal water tanks, and now a total of 50 household water tanks around Mikeno sector. This has improved access to water, and reduced the dependency on water collection within the Park – which has seen to the reduction of the risk of contamination, disease transfer from humans to the mountain gorilla, and allowed for time saving for the community to do other activities.
Earlier this year, thirty (30) households from the villages of Chanzu, Kariba, Runyonyi and Rwunga were identified among those most affected by crop raiding or other constraints due to close proximity to the Park and its wildlife and were selected to receive rainwater harvesting tanks. The tanks were then built through the knowledge and skills of local cooperatives during the recent rains. IGCP will through August – October 2015 facilitate the construction of an additional 50 house hold water tanks for the community around Mikeno. (For more information, go to: http://igcp.org/blog/rainwater-harvesting-experts-on-all-sides-of-the-virunga-massif/
Commenting on the relevance and impact of the project, Altor Musema, the DRC Country Coordinator for the IGCP notes, “this is one project whose impact is impressively tangible. It reduces the number of people who go to the park for water as it brings water closer to the people and therefore directly promotes conservation.” Musema recounts that the community appreciates the project and pledges its support in the maintenance of the constructed water tanks. This kind of commitment facilitates ownership and ensures sustainability of the IGCP intervention. The needs of the communities neighbouring the Park are great, and some community members have requested IGCP to scale up the project in the areas where it has not yet provided tanks.
In a related development, the park authorities are grateful to IGCP for its contribution in working with neighboring communities to improve access to safe and clean water for household use and in the process reducing park entry and therefore the risk of disease transmission to wildlife. Virunga National Park is implementing a number of water projects including a water gravity flow project around Mikeno sector and rehabilitating water sources (springs) outside the Park.