Congo is a huge country with tremendous logistical challenges. Large parts of the country lack basic infrastructure such as roads, water supply or electricity. The difficult accessibility of some areas makes it even more challenging to set up such infrastructure. Only two per cent of the rural population has access to electricity, and that is not going to improve quickly because the electrification of the country is proceeding extremely slowly.
Furthermore, 75% of the population has no access to safe drinking water, and this in a country with enormous water potential. The country ranks 46th out of 54 countries in Africa in terms of access to drinking water.
In a country plagued by epidemics such as Ebola, cholera and Covid-19, it is essential to improve the distribution of clean water.
It is in this context that the Belgian development agency, through its water programme, aims to ensure access to drinking water for 600,000 people in three different provinces.
But without electricity, there is no drinking water...
In the provinces of Kasaï-Oriental and Maniema, where electricity supply is also problematic, Enabel is working with the local authorities to provide some 480,000 people with drinking water through solar energy.
Energy is needed to pump the water from underground to the water towers. Since electricity networks are virtually non-existent and generators involve high fuel costs, the agency decided to rely on off-grid solar energy.
Solar fields with a powers reaching 44 kWp provide the necessary energy during the day to pump the water to the water towers. The system does not require a battery, as the tank acts as an energy storage mechanism, but it remains a hybrid system with a back-up generator for periods of high consumption and/or a lack of sunlight.