June 17, 2024

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Climate change: women, water and the Environmental crisis in the DRC

By DENISE KYALWAHI

In many communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, most water points are unfit for consumption in their raw form. Communities are now exposed to waterborne diseases and acute respiratory infections. With the population explosion, water shortage is reported in many parts of the country in both rural and urban areas.

Oïcha is a commune in the territory of Beni, in the province of North Kivu, in the east of the DRC, at the crest of the Congo and Nile river basin. The agglomeration has 151,500 inhabitants and more than 22,120 households displaced due to wars, official sources report. With these figures, the quantity of drinking water is insufficient compared to the number of inhabitants. Women and young girls are forced to travel long distances to collect water. A sacrifice that exposes them to the risk of being raped by the rebels.

“It directly pushes us to have difficulties with water. Oicha has only 30% drinking water coverage and less than 50% running water. From where the woman, mistress of the family remains the perpetual victim of this shortage” said KAMBALE KIKUKU Nicolas, mayor of the rural commune of Oïcha.

Climate change at the root of this carcass

Water scarcity is one of the elements through which many of the effects of the climate crisis are felt in the community. “Oicha has an agricultural population subject to several difficulties, including population growth due to rural exodus, climate change, deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture and evaporation hence the excessive heat causing the situation of water stress”  explains the mayor.

For the geologist and researcher KAMBALE KASOLENE, “water is today a major issue and a development requirement for the municipality of Oicha which is more affected by water shortage due to its demographic growth in this region. Water is lacking quantitatively and qualitatively in Oicha due to the lack of hydraulic infrastructure and this weighs heavily on Oicha’s wife,” he says.

Water and women

Water remains the most important commodity, often used in the household by women, as maintained by Philipe PALUKU BONANE, Deputy Secretary of Civil Society in the Territory of Beni. “We have noticed that there is a climate change because in our country long before we had water in our springs, and today we have more than 40 springs which have dried up because the trees have been cut down and the land remains empty. Understand that the water shortage is visible in the Commune and several households in this region are in a difficult situation. The women fetch water until late hours and are forced to wake up very early, while it is still dark. Our population continues to use well water, stagnant water and untreated rainwater which are at the root of the waterborne diseases still reported by health workers”.

Ghislaine and Jeannette are two women from the Makaiko district. They are indignant at the scarcity of water in this environment: “We have noticed a climate change following the cutting of the woods. To get water, we have to leave our homes at 4 am to return around 3 pm, if it’s evening we leave from 6 pm until midnight. We suffer a lot, the head of GREFAMU requires us to pay 100 Congolese francs per 20 liters, but we no longer give our fields to find money and buy at least 5 cans of water every day. We need drinking water here at home,” they say.

PALUKU BONANE issues a cry of alarm to the authorities “With this climate change in this environment, we issue a cry of alarm to the leaders to think about our future. Water is life, so when it empties at our springs, death awaits us”.

Local initiatives to adapt to the crisis

The community in this region is trying to adapt to this crisis due to climate change. Civil society in collaboration with an organization called COPI have installed two boreholes powered by photovoltaic cells. The first borehole with six wells serves nearly 2000 households and the second with five wells serves around 3200 households. But this quantity of water remains insufficient given the number of inhabitants.

A private company named GREFAMU uses an electric drilling system to find water.

“Drinking water coverage in Oicha is very low, we have 5 types of water points: simple springs, springs with reservoirs, modern boreholes with the manual pump system and at the end of the boreholes with photovoltaic systems using solar energy. Despite all these steps by the population, it still does not manage to satisfy the thirst for this very important commodity to survive,” said the municipal authority.

In the rural commune of Oïcha, the drilling of the voltaic system proves to be the only solution based on environmental sustainability. This is how it was chosen by COPI, a local cooperative to try to supply the population with drinking water in Oicha.

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1 thought on “Climate change: women, water and the Environmental crisis in the DRC

  1. Le programme de l’eco assainissement doit se jouer un mécanisme auniveau des partenaires du Gouvernement réaliser par programme stratrgique du Gouvernement de la RD Congo, pour une execution qui pourra s’appuyer sur resultat visible soutenue par un triangle Des partenaires-Gouvernement- et une observation neuter constituer des structures specialisée dans le programme comme le cas de WASH cela pour verifier à tout le niveau les rapports des partenaires du gouvernement qui injected de milliers des Dollars selon leur rapoport mais sans impacts.
    Dans le cas contraire le gouvernement doit signer un partenariat avec des structures nationales capable d’éxecuter ces travaux et presenter des resultats visible, palpable et prérenne. Car c’est humiliant de voir la RDCongo avec toutes ses reserves en eaux la population souffre de penerie l’eau

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