North of Lake Kivu in the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, civil strife has caused thousands of refugees to flee to the Bulengo Camp. Home to about 45,000, Bulengo has been given the remodeling of a lifetime thanks to the hard work of Oxfam volunteers. Over a six week period, a basic yet high-functioning water filtration system has been set up that provides enough clean water for the entire camp.
The entire system is comprised of hundreds of meters of piping. Water is pumped directly from Lake Kivu and sent to large tanks. Within these tanks, the water is filtered and chlorinated to prevent diseases such as cholera. The tanks can hold up to 70,000 liters (approximately 18,492 gallons) each and are filled twice a day.
An amazing aspect of this system, aside from the fact that it provides the most basic need to thousands, is that the system is managed by the refugees. They maintain the pipes and check the chlorination process to ensure everything runs smoothly from the lake to the lips of thirsty refugees. The best job however is that of the young children who run to the taps in the camp to freely fill up their buckets and bottles.
Oxfam shows that through providing basic building materials, it is possible to greatly impact over 45,000 people. It is proven through successful aid work that developing countries do not need the most modern technology; they do not only require a constant stream of millions of dollars but also the time and creativity of those willing to go out to these countries and help. In a matter of just six weeks, thousands of lives have instantly changed. There was no need for excessive donors, elongated presentations, or even extensive research on how to solve the problem. Six weeks, plastic pipes, and plastic bottles was all it took to get clean water from lake to lips.
– Deena Dulgerian