Helping communities access clean water in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is paradoxically an area of great wealth and destitute poverty. Poor governance and high levels of corruption have deterred resources from reaching communities in need of vital public services and infrastructure.

Since it was established in 2002, the Chirezi Foundation (FOCHI) has been engaging local communities to monitor and ensure effective delivery of development projects, such as water projects, health centres, educational facilities and roads. FOCHI staff work with community members to demand accountability and participate in the decision-making process. Through this engagement, communities are able to address the problems raised by corruption in service delivery.

FOCHI has successfully mobilised communities and trained 54 citizens in South Kivu Province, in order to monitor the implementation of public infrastructure projects which are built for the benefit of citizens in South Kivu. Through community gatherings known as barazas, community members elect representatives who are trained to monitor key development projects, such as water wells, roads and schools to ensure they are delivered against budget, have community participation and are delivered effectively. With FOCHI and Integrity Action support, community members constructively engage authorities and drive positive change.

For example, old pipes carrying water between the city of Uriva and the town of Kiliba needed replacing because they had become rusty. The rust caused health problems for people who used the pipes for drinking water.

The monitors discovered that there were sections of the old pipe lines which had not been replaced when they should have been. This meant that water was running through rusty pipes. The monitors asked the implementing agency, REGIDESO, why this was the case. They were told that although the donor had provided the requested materials, there were insufficient materials to complete the project and replace all of the rusty pipes.

The monitors then wrote to the project’s donor, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) requesting they provide additional materials so that the project could be finished. ICRC replied asking for more information about the problem and what needed to be done to address it. The monitors then sent two more letters going into greater detail about what was required.

ICRC’s response was positive. They provided new materials for REGIDESO and work on the project re-started. All of the pipes were replaced and the project was successfully completed. The new pipes are now providing clean water for 30,000 people.

Find out more about this project on DevelopmentCheck, an online platform for citizen feedback on the transparency, participation and effectiveness of development. The project information is available here.

FOCHI have been an Integrity Action partner since 2010. During this time they have trained 54 people as community monitors. The monitors have overseen 44 projects valued at around $500,000. Their interventions have led to the resolution of 63% of identified problems. FOCHI and the community members’ monitoring and constructive engagement has improved services for around 180,000 people