The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the second largest country in Africa, is endowed with large quantities of freshwater. However, water security is low because of economic and governance constraints. Economic growth is negative in real terms, which limits the government’s basic infrastructure investments and maintenance. Constricted political space for civil society activity and limited social accountability, including on water and sanitation investments, further constrains the delivery of services. As a result, currently only 52 percent of the population has access to basic water and 29 percent has access to sanitation. Lack of access to water and sanitation, coupled with poor hygiene behaviors, are among the top five risk factors associated with death and disability in the country.
USAID is supporting the Government of the DRC to create and strengthen systems required to achieve the country’s water and sanitation targets, in alignment with the Global Water Strategy and the USAID Agency Specific Plan. USAID is addressing water and sanitation needs through large scale investments in health services and systems. USAID/DRC is implementing these activities by using two different models: 1) drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene programming as a component of the Mission’s Integrated Health Project; and 2) investing in stand-alone drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene programming through UNICEF. Specific interventions focus on direct service, behavior change, and policy implementation. The portfolio themes include strengthening water sector governance and advancing gender empowerment. Additional U.S. government activities in the DRC include USAID/Food for Peace’s Development Food Assistance Program, and disease outbreak response, including for Ebola and cholera.
Donors provide nearly 99 percent of water sector financing in the DRC, and USAID coordinates closely with these other development partners to ensure effective and efficient programming. Donor coordination focuses on water infrastructure, resource management, governance, and water treatment to leverage resources and avoid duplication of effort.
Overall, USAID and other U.S. government activities are estimated to provide the Congolese with millions of liters of safe drinking water, and to help more than one million people gain access to basic water and sanitation services.