Pennsylvania Church Helps Bring Clean Drinking Water to Thousands in D.R. Congo

Gift from Willowdale Chapel paves way for ACF to reach more communities in need

After years of violent conflict and decades of neglect, much of the Democratic Republic of Congo lacks basic infrastructure, including water systems. Without access to clean water, thousands of Congolese children die every year from preventable water-related diseases like cholera, diarrhea, and dysentery. Action Against Hunger is working throughout the country to ensure that families in distress have sustainable access to clean drinking water.

When the Willowdale Chapel in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania contacted Action Against Hunger with an offer of $5,000 for projects in D. R. Congo, we knew just where to send it. Our teams were already organizing a large water program in the southwestern province of Bandundu, and Willowdale’s gift allowed us to construct and rehabilitate water sources at five additional springs, bringing safe water to another 3,800 people.

Without safe and adequate water sources, families were collecting their water directly from contaminated streams—the same places where animals defecate and people bathe and wash their laundry. When rainfall was low, these springs became barely more than a trickle.

With Willowdale’s money, Action Against Hunger constructed and rehabilitated catchment systems that treated this spring water and increased its flow. And, knowing that every drop of water could be used, we established community gardens near the springs that provide families with a source of nutritious food during difficult times.

Action Against Hunger’s staff did not work alone. Community members, eager to access clean water, cleared paths to the springs, collected and hauled sand and stones, and worked on construction projects. And community-based water committees organized by Action Against Hunger are now overseeing the management and maintenance of the water systems themselves.

After the construction projects were finished, tests confirmed that the systems successfully protected water from sources of contamination and that the water quality had improved significantly. But people did not need tests to tell them what they could see with their own eyes: clear, clean water that will improve health and benefit their families well into the future.