NAIROBI, 12 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - A humanitarian aid association, SolidaritÚs, launched on Wednesday a drinking water distribution network for 170,000 people in North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A SolidaritÚs delegation from Paris, led by General Manager Alain Boinet, handed over the project to local authorities during the ceremony at the town of Beni. Congolese government officials and representatives of the country's development partners also attended.
"The project is of vital importance for Beni," SolidaritÚs said.
It said the population of Beni had risen from 72,291 in 1998 to 176,000 in 2002 and the authorities had been unable to supply all residents with drinking water.
Work on the project started in 2003. A team of hydraulic engineers from SolidaritÚs received the support of volunteer experts from Aquassitance, a French NGO specialising in water provision, waste disposal and the environment; and utilised a design office's expertise for the technical conception.
"The principle is very easy: the project is global, new, low cost maintenance and able to answer the needs in drinking water of the population of Beni by 2010," SolidaritÚs said. "It has been accomplished thanks to a close cooperation with Beni administrative authorities, REGIDESO [the national water utility], the provincial governor and the population."
The project, set up with the cooperation of the European Union (EuropAid), cost 2.5 million euros (US $3 million). SolidaritÚs said the project fitted into the scheme of humanitarian aid and aimed at answering the urgent need of drinking water in order to reduce diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and other deaths caused by unhealthy water.
The project comprises catchments of two rivers, a treatment station and a water conveyance network and distribution using the force of gravity through 50 km of canals. SolidaritÚs said the project would supply Beni residents up to 10 litres of water per day and per person for the next 10 years.
Some 84 drinking fountains have been installed in 18 areas of the city, SolidaritÚs said. The entire work has been accomplished in accordance with customs and local traditions so that the people can maintain the network, it added.
According to SolidaritÚs, the project was accomplished with the participation of some 500 Congolese wage-earning workers as well as several thousands of other people.
SolidaritÚs also said it was setting up other programmes for the access to drinking water, purification, food security and infrastructure in North Kivu, Katanga Province, and the northeastern district of Ituri in Orientale Province.