By Guy-Marin Kamandji, Caritas Congo
Musawu walks with a firm step, carrying 20 litres of water on her head with great agility. The water must be equivalent to about half the 10 year old girl’s weight.
It’s Monday morning in Bukwa Mulumba, a town in Kasai Central in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Musawu still has to make the 2.5 km trip from her home to the water point and back two more times today.
“When there is enough water at home, then my mother lets me go to school. Tomorrow I will be able to go to school,” she says.
She is not the only one making the walk on the slippery slope. Mrs Kanyeba, a young woman, doesn’t have the 250 to 300 Congolese Francs (about 20 cents) to buy 20 litres of water in her village, so she must make the journey herself.
“After four trips with 20 litres of water on my head, I’m exhausted,” she said. “All I want to do is go to sleep to regain my strength, but I must stay awake to prepare food for my family.”
Once you arrive, then you must battle to get to the water point past the others all trying to get their water. The art of getting through the chaos is called “katshofa“.
We meet Francisca. She has just arrived home, breathless and exhausted. The 50 year old woman is on her third round of carting water back and forth and still has two more to go, all with 20 litres of water on her head.
Mrs. Mwa Mbuyi Kapinga, the eldest of the Congolese women we spoke to, said, “Having a pump in the town would relieve us of a daily chore. Some women must make the journey 10 times a day. It can really injure us.”
Water is the major problem for the thousands of residents of Bakwa Mulumba. There one source of water, a pump dating back to the colonial era, has stopped working for almost two decades.
Generations of Congolese women all share the same dream: repairing the main water pump. Caritas Congo is urging for funds to purchase a pump to supply water, for the replacement of piping and construction of tanks and water points.
Le rêve de mademoiselle Musawu et des mères de Bakwa Mulumba: une pompe d’eau !