WASHINGTON, June 14, 2023 — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved financing for two projects that seek to increase access to drinking water and sanitation in selected provinces and to enhance community livelihoods in forested landscapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The country has vast natural resources, including the world’s second largest tropical forest area, and more than half of all freshwater resources in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, its poverty rate is one of the highest in the world, and the country continues to grapple with major infrastructure gaps, weak governance, and disparities in poverty rates across provinces, as well as between urban and rural areas. The two projects will seek to enhance access to basic services and improve livelihoods in some of the most underserved areas of the country.
“These strategic investments will boost human capital and generate new economic opportunities and jobs in some of the areas that need it the most by taking holistic approaches to development challenges,” said Albert Zeufack, World Bank Country Director for the DRC. “Closing the gaps in access to water and sanitation is critical to reducing the incidence of malnutrition, stunting, and illnesses, such as diarrhea. It is also key to creating a level playing field for women and girls."
The water project, approved on June 9, represents the first phase of an 11-year Water Supply and Sanitation Access Program (PASEA, Programme d’Accès aux Services d’Eau et d’Assainissement) with an overall financing envelope of $1.25 billion dollars. Under phase 1, a $400 million credit from the International Development Association* (IDA) will seek to increase access to basic water supply and sanitation (WASH) services in the provinces of Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, and Kwilu, and to strengthen the capacity of the public and private sector for water supply and sanitation service delivery. The first phase aims to provide 2.9 million people with access to basic drinking water services and 2 million people with access to basic sanitation services. PASEA will change specifically the lives of women and girls, through at-home WASH services, by creating job opportunities, and by addressing menstrual hygiene needs to increase girls’ school attendance. The project will employ climate-resilient and solar-powered water services, while strengthening provincial capacities, private sector engagement, and decentralization.
The Forest and Savanna Restoration project, approved on June 2, combines $290 million in IDA credits and $10 million in grants from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) Clean Cooking Fund (CCF), to support forest conservation efforts in DRC as part of a broader landscape approach that emphasizes people's needs, reduces poverty, and preserves nature’s ecosystem services.
“This large-scale project builds on landscape investments initiated by the Forest Investment Program,” said Africa Olojoba, World Bank Practice Manager for Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy for Eastern and Southern Africa. “By developing agroforestry and reforestation in degraded savannah areas, the project will help meet strong local market demand for wood energy and sustainable foodstuffs."
The project will bring 640,000 hectares of land under sustainable management practices aimed at restoring and conserving forested landscapes while improving livelihoods and resilience for up to 1.2 million people. The project is also expected to improve access to clean cooking solutions for 2.5 million people in urban and peri-urban areas, supporting the country's transition away from wood energy and improving multiple livelihood benefits—including health.
*The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa. Learn more online: IDA.worldbank.org. #IDAworks