Friendly Water for the World’s Congo-DRC Country Representative Eliphaz Bashilwango received a very small grant from the Washington State Environmental Health Association and transformed an entire community. He chose a Batwa/Pygmy village – Kahororo – close to the Burundi border.
The Batwa people are an oppressed minority in central Africa, occupying the lowest rung of the social system. Once forest dwellers and hunters, most have been gathered onto what are essentially reservations, like Kahororo. With 4,000 households, Kahororo has virtually 100% unemployment, no roads, no schools, no health facilities. It is located in a swamp. A decade ago, soldiers came through Kahororo and raped some of the women, infecting them with HIV. And there is no clean water. More than half the children were dying before the age of five, most as a result of waterborne illnesses. When a BioSand program was proposed by Eliphaz, the village headman Anania Shigeru expressed grave doubts as to whether his people could be trained to do anything. Nonetheless, following the training program, the participants (14 men and 16 women) produced and installed 31 BioSand Filters in 38 days. Within three weeks, health started to radically improve, and people were clamoring for more filters. Anania voiced his new-found enthusiasm by stating, “The sustained action of Friendly Water for the World is the first intervention toward the development of Kahororo since the world began. We were yesterday forgotten, discriminated against, and marginalized, but today we now have become proud and worthy thanks to the BioSand Filter program.” Since then, a World Bank delegation has gone to the community to witness “the miracle of Kahororo.”