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Rainwater Harvesting Experts On All Sides of the Virunga Massif

Here's another story of people from different sides of the border working together to help their communities and reduce pressure on the Virunga Massif and its mountain gorillas.

Last week, 10 women and men traveled from Jomba, DRC, to Gahunga, Rwanda, to continue hands-on training that was interrupted last May when fighting erupted in Jomba between the M23 rebels and the Congolese army. With the fighting subsiding a few months ago, the trainees were ready to start it up again and it was decided to finish the training in Rwanda, where the trainers, from the Imbere Heza association, are based.

 

The team from DRC and Rwanda pose with Silus Mujyambere.  He is the recipient of a rainwater harvesting tank at his home at the base of Muhabura. While the tank is being built, the hands-on training takes place. 

The team from DRC and Rwanda pose with Silus Mujyambere. He is the recipient of a rainwater harvesting tank at his home at the base of Muhabura. While the tank is being built, the hands-on training takes place.

They have two tanks to build under the watchful eyes of four members of Imbere Heza and the two training tanks are being built on the front lines, in the houses nearest to Volcanoes National Park. There is a communal rainwater harvesting tank that IGCP constructed (and mobilized a water user committee to manage) in the nearby village that people use as their primary source of water. It is still more than a kilometer away from their homes. IGCP has found that the communal tanks are more capable of retaining the collected water for the summer dry season if satellite household rainwater harvesting tanks are built surrounding it.

Mr. Mujyambere will soon have his own 4 cubic meters tank collecting the ample rains that fall throughout most of the year. Right now he collects what he can from a very short gutter into a small plastic basin at his house.

Mr. Mujyambere will soon have his own 4 cubic meters tank collecting the ample rains that fall throughout most of the year. Right now he collects what he can from a very short gutter into a small plastic basin at his house.

The tanks are a mix of metal, cement, and stone, which is put together with expert hands over a period of seven days. First the foundation:

foundation

Then the frame:

frame

Then lots of layers of cement:

cement

Then the cap:

cap

And access point:

access

And the training includes the periodic maintenance, cleaning and precautions necessary to keep rainwater as safe and clean as possible.

The nice part of this story is that the Imbere Heza cooperative were originally trained in this technique by an association in Uganda. Now they are passing it on to their Congolese counterparts. It comes full circle.

IGCP looks forward to mobilizing these experts on all sides of the border in the coming years to build hundreds of more tanks on the front lines with the parks in the Virunga Massif, so that we reduce the number of people who need to enter the parks in search of that basic need - water.


Anna
About the Author

Anna serves as Communications Officer for IGCP. Originally from Iowa in the United States, she now calls the hills and volcanoes of the Greater Virunga region home. She is a conservationist at heart and by profession, and is thrilled to report on the amazing work of IGCP and partner organizations in the conservation of mountain gorillas.

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