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Two aqueducts in Congo


icona acquapanoramaAccess to drinking water in the territories of Kahemba and Popokabaka, Democratic Republic of Congo



Democratic Republic of Congo
Provinces of Bandundu, territories of Kahemba and Popokabaka.



From August 2012 to August 2017



The program that ACRA is implementing in Congo is parallel to the projects that I.S.C.O (Impresa Servizi Coordinati or coordinated services enterprise) is promoting in the provinces of Bandundu to guarantee the population a greater availability of food and water. The organizations of farmers present on the territory will be supported from a technical and organizational point of view to increase and diversify crops for food purposes. ACRA will follow the water component of the program providing technical support in the construction of two drinking water supply systems in the districts of Popokabaka and Kahemba.
Kahemba is a town situated on a plateau not far from the border with Angola, very isolated from the rest of the country. The town does not have an aqueduct and accessing water is very difficult and risky for the population. The shortage of drinking water also increases the spreading of an endemic disease known as konzo, that particularly affects children (and which causes the paralysis of the lower limbs), caused by the incorrect treatment of bitter manioca amara which should be macerated in water before using to eliminate the hydrocyanic acid contained in the tuber.
Also in Popokabaka there are health issues. The population regularly drinks the non potable water of the two rivers, the Kwango, that crosses the town, and the Ngoa that flows east of the town. The incidence of water related diseases is very high and will be reduced by 75% with the construction of the aqueduct.
The two projects are designed to use sustainable technologies that require simple and inexpensive maintenance.



To guarantee access to drinking water of the inhabitants of Kahemba and Popokabaka with the construction of 2 aqueducts and the installation of public fountains.



Kahemba Aqueduct

  • Sensitization of the populations on the use of drinking water and on the respect of the infrastructures through the involvement of the local authorities, of young people and women in the various neighbourhoods.
  • Installation on the Kayoke stream of a 2.9 km long pipeline and with a drop of 20km which, from the barrage built by the catholic mission of Shamusenga reaches the drinking water spring below.
  • Installation of a turbine connected mechanically and directly to the hydraulic pump which will convey at least 4 litres of water per second to the town of Kahemba, operating 24 hours on 24 can convey 362 cubic metres of drinking water a day.
  • Installation of a chateau d'eau, or rather a pensile cistern where water will be stored.
  • Distribution of water collected in the pensile cistern through 16,000 meters of interred piping which will supply 33 public fountains that provide 15 litres of water a day per person.
  • Constitution of a Consumer Association for the management of the aqueduct through the existing Water Committee elected by the population, the neighbourhood chiefs and the Municipality of Kahemba.

Popokabaka Aqueduct

  • Constitution of a Coordination of local Committees (CDV - Communautés pour le développement du village or village development committees) elected by the beneficiaries, which will be responsible for their representation in the management and use of the water adduction system. The CDV coordination (faîtière des CDV) will be responsible also for recruiting the needed construction workers and the volunteers who will dig the trenches where the piping will be interred.
  • Realization of the works for channelling the water at the spring (situated at 608m a.s.l. ) and the adduction works.
  • Construction on a hill next to the town (at 480m a.s.l.) of a cement water cistern. This tank will distribute drinking water through a gravity system to the 30 public fountains installed. Each inhabitant will receive 25.5 litres of drinking water a day.
  • Installation of other 10 public fountains in 5 villages near the town.
  • Training of the Popokabaka coordination and the CDVs on the correct management and use of the water adduction system.
  • Sensitization of the population on the use of drinking water and on the respect of the infrastructures implemented through the involvement of the local authorities, of youths and of women in the various neighbourhoods of the town and in each village.
  • The local Committee will choose at least one person amongst its members who will be responsible for managing every public mountain installed. Two technicians and two custodians will also be selected and trained to correctly manage the adduction system.




Direct beneficiaries
Kahemba aqueduct: the 22,000 inhabitants of Kahemba, the Shamusenga mission which owns the barrage of the stream and the chefferie of Muloschi or rather the local traditional authority of the territory of the water source.
Popokabaka aqueduct: the 18,000 inhabitants fo the town of Popokabaka and the neighbouring villages.



The concept of sustainability lies at the basis of the infrastructural component of these interventions which will have an extremely reduced environmental impact. In fact, the water sources already exist and, instead of digging deep wells that are difficult to maintain on the long term, we opted for interred pipes that would bring water to the town and the villages. The material used has a life of 40 years, therefore the maintenance costs will be low and sustainable for the population.
In Kahemba water is made to flow to the town by means of a pump connected to a turbine which is fed by a penstock: simple devices to maintain and which don't require the use of fuel. Likewise the gravity water system of Popokabaka is easy to maintain and doesn't require pumps nor electricity, nor diesel oil.
From a social point of view, the aqueducts will have a very positive impact on the population: the women will have more time to care for their children and, in the case of Kahemba, they can macerate the manioca with all the water they need avoiding the risk of spreading the dangerous konzo disease. The water will not be sold in cans but each family can take it from the closest fountain. Every distribution point will be controlled by a woman responsible for contrasting abuse in the use of the water and to collect a small monthly tariff that all families can afford , established annually by the coordination charged with the management of the aqueduct. This contribution from the families, 15 to 25 times lower than the running costs of the drinking water supply systems present in other localities of the Bandundu Province, therefore guarantees the financial sustainability of the project.



Total value:
905.332 € (Kahemba)
511.679 € (Popokabaka)


Principal funder:
ue   European Comission (for Popokabaka)

Fondazione Renato Grandi – Lugano (for Kahemba)

I.S.C.O SC (Capofila)
Fondazione Renato Grandi – Lugano
GAID (Groupe d'Appui aux Initiatives de Développement)