THE CONGO: Salesian Missionaries Developing Hydraulic System and Water Tower for Better Access to Safe, Clean Water
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at the Salesian Center of St. Charles Lwanga, located in Makelekele, a suburb of Brazzaville, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, operate a parish, youth center and primary school. The center recently raised funds through the help of the Salesian Missions office in Madrid, Spain and other donors to develop a hydraulic system and water tower to collect and distribute water from the existing well for the more than 900 people who pass through the center daily. This is needed because interruptions to the water service are frequent in Makelekele and the surrounding areas.
UN-Water estimates that worldwide 768 million people lack access to improved water sources and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation. For those who have no access to clean water, water-related disease is common with more than 840,000 people dying each year from water-related diseases. Women and children often bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households and globally spend 140 million hours a day collecting water. Children in these communities are forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water—water that often proves contaminated and seriously sickens those who consume it. Many others are unable to attend school regularly because they must spend time searching for distant wells.
In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Salesian missionaries around the globe have made building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.
“Having access to clean water is essential for life and brings a sense of dignity to the children and families we serve in our programs,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions. “Improving water and sanitation facilities also ensures that teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene and has safe drinking water, reducing the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools keeping students away from important study time.”
The local Salesian parish in Makelekele has close to 5,000 people attending mass and other services. The Salesian youth center, open to local youth groups, offers a well-equipped library and a computer room. Nearly 250 youth access the center every day either to study or to have fun in a healthy educational way during their free time. The Salesian primary school is also open every day and 600 students attend morning or afternoon classes. The new water system will help to provide fresh, clean water to the students and families who take part in Salesian programs and for the surrounding communities.
According to the World Bank, poverty has worsened in the Republic of the Congo since the 1980s. Today, more than half the country’s population now live below the poverty line with most of the country’s poor people (64.8 percent) living in rural areas. Women and children are among the hardest hit by poverty, and more than a third of children under age five in rural areas suffer from malnutrition.
Water is also challenging in rural areas where only 11 percent of people have regular access to clean, safe water compared with 75 percent of people living in urban areas. Those living in rural areas also have the highest unemployment rate with close to 50 percent of those willing and able to work without jobs. Youth and vulnerable groups are particularly hard hit, often lacking both the skills to successfully join the workforce and the availability of decent paying jobs.
Salesian missionaries have been working in the Republic of the Congo providing education, vocational technical skills training, workforce development and social welfare programs to aid poor youth and their families living in the country.
World Bank – Republic of the Congo