People in Need helped over 6,000 Congolese refugees in Angola with water, sanitation, and hygiene

People in Need helped over 6,000 Congolese refugees in Angola with water, sanitation, and hygiene

Violence and ethnic tensions in the Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo has forced tens of thousands of Congolese to seek safety in Angola's Lunda Norte Province. 

With funding from UNICEF Angola and People in Need Club of Friends, the PIN team is working with refugees there to build sanitation facilities and teach improved hygiene practices.

“In the future, I will be able to save lives, showing a lot of people how to prevent diseases,” says Daniel, one of thousands of Congolese refugees who fled to Angola. A computer science specialist, Daniel had been volunteering for humanitarian organisations working in Lunda Norte province, north of Angola. Now he’s working on the PIN emergency sanitation project benefitting around 6,000 refugees.

The project is providing basic water and sanitation facilities for more than 900 refugee families like latrines with handwashing stands and showers, water bladders with a distribution tap system, and waste pits. “I am very happy with the job. I have already learnt how to test water, and how to mobilize population to improve sanitation,” Daniel says.

Refugee community help themselves

PIN’s work focuses on people living in 13 refugee village-based settlements in Lóvua, about 100 kilometres inland from the border with DRC. By building communal water and sanitation infrastructure, and facilitating the construction of household latrines and showers, the work aims to prevent the development and transmission of water-borne and faecal-related diseases. Awareness-raising campaigns encourage refugee communities to adopt improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

The project team makes sure people who are more vulnerable are not left out; a team trained by PIN helps older women, single mothers, and people with disabilities construct their latrines.

“The community is of course cooperating since they’re also part of the project. For example, in the case of latrine construction in the shelters, we are not the ones who construct, we just mobilize them so they construct their own latrines,” says Girmay Hadgu, PIN Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Engineer.

The establishment of water and sanitation committees within the target villages involves community members in tasks like solid waste management and disposal, promotion of hygiene practices, and installation of handwashing facilities in the shelters.

Improvements in public spaces

PIN built WASH facilities in special places for children and women, like spaces where kids go to learn and play, spaces for women to gather safely, and spaces for unaccompanied children who lost their families while fleeing from DRC. PIN also helped the water supply in target villages by installing water tanks with hoses and taps that can hold 5,000 litres of water.

“We are doing a very nice job in terms of latrines and shower coverage,” says Hadgu, the engineer. “We really try to reach many people in a short period of time. We identify a big responsibility to push forward our construction activities, and we almost doubled our field officers and technical team,” he says of the team of more than 60.

The team also promotes hygiene practices by teaching about risks related to poor hygiene and how to prevent them. Female hygiene promoters reach women and mother especially, helping them make the best use of facilities and prevent diarrhea in their families. The campaigns focus on topics like water protection, treatment and storage, solid waste management, and waste water reuse and management.

Laundry soap distribution

To help people put into practice what they learn during the awareness-raising campaigns, PIN’s emergency team distributed laundry soap to more than 5,000 families (over 21,000 people) in Lóvua settlement and in Cacanda reception centre. PIN distributed latrine kits consisting of a broom, 10- and 10-litre buckets, and laundry soap to more than 900 families (more than 4,000 people).

The response to the humanitarian crisis requires collective effort. PIN communicates with the humanitarian actors working in the displacement sites, particularly with UN agencies and their WASH implementing partners such as LWF (Lutheran World Federation) and NCA (Norwegian Church Aid), as well as governmental authorities.

PIN in Angola

After more than a decade working in Angola, PIN has long-term experience in WASH programming, with many projects implemented in Central Angola. PIN is one of UNICEF’s main partners in the National Community-Led Total Sanitation implementation strategy. Apart from WASH, PIN Angola has ongoing projects in agriculture, nutrition, health, education, gender and civil society sectors. 

Author: Claudia de Oliveira, PIN Angola Communication Officer