The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is Africa's most water-rich country, yet many of its people have no safe access to this precious resource. Coupled with a lack of access to sanitation
and hygiene, this is putting millions of people at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19). That's why the World Bank's rapid response to the threat the pandemic poses in the DRC has a focus on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).In early April, the World Bank's Board approved an initial 25 projects to help countries respond to the coronavirus and shorten the time to recovery. Among these was the DRC Strategic Preparedness and Response Project (SPRP.)The project aims to ensure that doctors, nurses, staff, and patients -- both those with COVID-19 and people seeking treatment for other maladies -- have access to water, sanitation, and hygiene at health
facilities. All too often, WASH services are lacking even in these places where people go to seek treatment. Available data for the DRC shows that at least half of health
facilities lacked basic water or sanitation. During an infectious disease
outbreak, ensuring these facilities have a reliable and safe water supply as well as soap allows medical professionals to provide care safely while also protecting their own well-being.Existing projects are also being leveraged for the pandemic response. These include the DRC Urban Water Supply Project, which is helping increase sustainable access to drinking water in three urban centers. It now includes financing for 20 new shared water points in densely populated areas that currently lack access. Large water storage containers are being supplied by tanker trucks, which the utility already owns.
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