Women in water management

The Repairer Moms

At Babondika, a small locality located 12 kilometers north of Kisangani, the capital of Tshopo province, the village committee is mobilizing to maintain the water pump of the village with local means.

An inner tube for 10 years

With a pair of compasses, Salimboko carefully draws two concentric circles on a piece of inner tube of a truck tyre, then, with a razor blade, he cuts it up, spreading alternately the exterior of the larger circle and the interior of the smaller circle, until he gets the shape of a ring.

“We make the waterproof seals ourselves”, explains Salimboko, focused on his work. With a single inner tube, I can make 45 joints. During the training, UNICEF left us a whole inner tube, one that would help us maintain the pump for almost 10”.

“In the future we would buy the inner tubes ourselves, by making contributions. One can get one for 10 US Dollars in Kisangani”.

Repairer Moms who ensure the durability of the installations

Salimboko makes the joints for the Repairer Moms, responsible for the maintenance of the water pump. Every quarter, these three women, “chosen among the most courageous of the village”, dismantle the pump in order to clean the pipes, lubricate the wheelwork and change the waterproof joints.

Just like Salimboko, it is a task they do benevolently for the benefit of the community “because the water belongs to all of us”.

The Repairer Moms attended a 3 day training conducted by the local NGO, PPSS (Primary Health Care Promotion Program). They equally participated in a capacity building workshop organized by the Lutheran World Federation.

The pursued objective is that every village community can on its own maintain its well without having to wait for the intervention of an external partner. In the past, many water pumps in the province were abandoned for lack of means, spare parts and skills to locally maintain them.

Women more involved in the management of drinking water

Since 2008, in the Tshopo province, UNICEF has financed the installation of 150 water pumps particularly for their easy maintenance and has trained 70 persons for their maintenance.

Although the trainings are opened to both women and men, a majority of women volunteered. They are enthusiastic about maintaining the pumps since they are the first users”, analyzes an official of the PPSS NGO.

A committee mobilized for the wellbeing of the inhabitants

UNICEF equally encouraged the creation of village committees in charge of issues relating to the tidiness and cleaning-up of the village.

In Babondika, the committee supervises the maintenance of the water pump and organizes every week the maintenance of collective spaces and plots belonging to people either too sick or old to do it.

In the near future, the committee is considering the creation of a community garden and the investment of the proceeds in order to buy goats. Having goats, is building up savings.

In case of a serious breakdown of the pump, we would have the possibility of selling a goat to finance the repairs”, explains Akilimali, president of the village committee.

By Gwenn Dubourthoumieu

Translated from French by Adjah Benedict