Two major water-supply projects have recently been completed with ICRC assistance in Goma and Bukavu, the largest cities in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"The population of these two cities has exploded as a direct result of the fighting in North and South Kivu," said Max Hadorn, head of the ICRC's delegation in the country. "The existing infrastructure is totally inadequate and lack of water has been a serious problem for the inhabitants."
The Bukavu project, which is being managed by the national water board, Rigideso, was completed in less than two months. By restoring to working order a section of the water-distribution system that serves 300,000 people, it will bring relief to thousands of household that have been without running water for three years in an area hard hit by a series of cholera epidemics, the most recent in late 2006.
The Goma project, also carried out in cooperation with Regideso, required two years of work and 300,000 dollars to complete. It has provided the city with its largest pumping station, which is connected to three densely populated neighbourhoods. Over 200,000 people, including many of those displaced by the fighting, will benefit from the new facility.
"In situations like this, we must not forget that scarcity of water in urban areas is a problem for host families as well as for displaced people," said Florence Dapples, an ICRC coordinator for water-supply projects.
The ICRC has also connected the Katindo military hospital to the existing urban water-supply network and built an incinerator, a placenta pit and a sterilization room. The facility is currently treating numerous patients wounded in the recent fighting in North Kivu.
The ICRC reminds all the parties to the conflict of their obligation to spare drinking-water facilities, which are indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.