“In Africa, the water issue is women’s: they are the ones to go get water and bring it back in buckets,” said Courtès Ketcha, mayor of Bangangté, Cameroon, on the “Women for Water” session of the 6th World Water Forum, that took place in Marseille on March 12th to 17th. By chance or because of significant choices, numerous other projects and associations share the “Women for Water” denomination. This redundancy highlights indeed how water and women issues are deeply intertwined in developing countries.
The two recent forums that settled in Marseille brought interesting insight on the water access issue. The Alternative World Water Forum tackled the supremacy of western companies over water distribution in developing countries, at the expense of the local population. On the other hand, the World Water Forum insisted on multilateral collaboration to fulfill the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), especially for Sub-saharian Africa, where statistics underline dreadful disparities. Indeed, the 2011 UN MDGs Progress Report, released on March 8th, 2012, shows that the scarcity of drinking water access remained problematic for rural areas such as the village of Makwacha, in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In this context, the AAD “Women for Water” project offers a relevant answer: although the new access to safe and drinking water was made possible by the intervention of one of the sector’s expert, Aquassistance (a Suez-Environnement NGO), its management is ensured locally. Even better: it’s the Women’s Association of Makwacha who is responsible for managing the water access and the maintenance of the new wells.
According to Fernande, the association’s president, clean water was revealed to her as a crucial priority after she drank unsafe water and became very ill, close to dying. Several persons are affected in each families by infections and illnesses – from diarrea to dysentery – because of the water, leading sometimes to death.