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50 million people lack clean water to drink in DR Congo

50 million people lack clean water to drink in DR Congo
by admin on March 22, 2011

in News

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — An estimated 51 million people have no access to safe drinking water in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which holds over half of Africa’s water reserves, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said Tuesday.

A new study unveiled to coincide with World Water Day said three quarters of the population have no access to safe drinking water because of the country’s troubled legacy of conflict, environmental degradation, rapid urbanization and under-investment in water infrastructure.

« Since peace was brokered in 2003, the Government has gradually managed to reverse the negative trend in water coverage that has plagued the DRC since its period of conflict and turmoil », UNEP’s DRC Programme Manager Hassan Partow said at a forum staged by the National Water and Sanitation Committee in the capital, Kinshasa.

« However, the stark reality is that the DRC has one of the fastest urbanization growth rates in the world and this is not being matched with adequate water and sanitation service delivery, » he added.

In addition to major infrastructure improvements, an investment of approximately $70 million over a five-year period is required to help strengthen the water sector.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), meanwhile, said an estimated 37 million rural residents in DRC risk contracting disease because they have no alternative but to draw untreated water directly from rivers or lakes that are likely to be contaminated.

« A child living in a Congolese village is four times more likely to drink contaminated water than someone in town. Yet, all children have equal right to survival and development of which drinking water is a vital component, » Pierrette Vu Thi, the UNICEF representative in DRC, said.

According to figures from the country’s department of health, more than 2 million Congolese children under the age of five, or one in five in that age group, are regularly sick with diarrhea.

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