Women Walking to Fetch Water
The Okapi Conservation Project runs several community engagement projects in addition to the highly successful Agroforestry Program. These projects, like agroforestry, are rooted in assisting the local communities by improving their quality of living and providing secure access to many essentials. Even though some of the projects are not directly related to agriculture, they often have the same effect of reducing the amount of space needed to cultivate crops – thus reducing the amount of land that is converted through slash and burn practices.
OCP has recently completed the refurbishment of eight community water sources in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. These eight sources provide water to roughly 8,000 community members and were initially protected in the early 1990s. The years of usage and the environment had been hard on them, and they had fallen into a state that was not adequately meeting the needs of the communities. The rate of water flow was low and the area around the spigots was muddy and contaminated through overuse by people. The low flow rate required women and children to rise early and spend a significant portion of their day waiting in lines to gather water, a basic need for life. The unclean nature of the spigot areas increased the risk of disease from contaminated water, particularly in children. The resulting increase in water-related diseases required medical treatment, resulting in not only poor health, but also increased healthcare costs. Providing secure water access with increased flow allows for less time spent waiting in lines, while simultaneously increasing the number of community members that can gather water at a single spigot, and clean water has been shown to decrease disease transmission in children.
All eight of the springs were dug out and encased in concrete, with the surrounding area covered with a concrete apron that will prevent the water source from being polluted by human activity. The concrete aprons make maintenance and cleaning easier, and with good care, will last the community for many years to come. By retrofitting the water sources, the communities now have access to clean, fast flowing water, therefore reducing the amount of time that women and children spend gathering water and dramatically reducing the risk of waterborne diseases.
It is because of supporters like you that we are able to support these communities and limit their impact on critically important habitat for okapi, forest elephants, chimpanzees and other wildlife in and around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Thank you!!
Before Retrofitting Water Source
After Water Source Retrofitting
Water Container being Filled Quickly