Defending Dignity. Fighting Poverty.


By Adérito Bié, June 2016

"20 Kilometers for a few drops of water"

Atália Massango knows what it means to be thirsty. The mother of four children lives in Mulepo, a small settlement in Inhambane province in Southern Mozambique. Like many other mothers she was used to leave her home in the early hours of the morning to fetch water. Most women walk 20 kilometers every day in order for their families to survive. Atália had to carry a can of 25 litres on her head and a young child. Every day she spent hours to walk to and back home from the water source and wait in long queues. 

A water source rehabilitated in the community of Mulepo.

“Sometimes I took the children with me so they could take a bath. But it’s a long and exhausting journey for them. Often I washed the clothes there as well and let them dry to pick them up the next day,” she says. But Atália’s day did not end after hours of walking to supply her family with water. She is also working on the field to earn some money for her family and do housework. Her children help her wherever and whenever they can. “When my mother fell sick, it was me who had to fetch water, and sometimes  there was no time left to go to school," says her 15 year old son Anselmo Samuel Chitsango. 

But all of this now lies in the past. A few weeks ago Atália’s and the other villgers’ lives completely changed, when CARE repaired the water source in the village. It had been broken for the past four years. 75 mothers and their families now do not have to spend their entire day walking to supply their children with water anymore. 
The community of Mulepo participated in the rehabilitation of the water source. They created a water and sanitation committee for the operation of the pump and are managing a fund in case further repairs will be necessary. The committee is made up of mostly women who manage the source.  For the pump maintenance, each household contributes a monthly amount of 20 meticais (around 30 US cents). Families with livestock have to pay the equivalent of around 80 US cents. 
The money is kept in a safe which is under the management of a member who in turn reports to the group.  According to the water and sanitation committee member Anita Elias, the purpose of the initiative is to help families in creating a fund to be used in case the source gets damaged again. "I am a water and sanitation committee member and I am able to do minor repairs myself. We were taught that we should take care of the source. This way it will last longer. For example, we cannot come without a headscarf to make sure our hair does not fall into the well.

Also, we now avoid to clogg the water source with tree leaves, and close the source at night so it won’t be vandalized," explains Anita. According to the Administrator of Funhalouro district, Fernando Omar, the government plans to  increasingly improve the basic conditions for the population. "So far,  20 holes were rehabilitated and new ones should be constructed. We are working very closely with CARE to make sure that families do not have to walk longer than one kilometer in total to cover their daily water needs”, he emphasized.
The further rehabilitation and construction of water sources is urgently needed, as not everyone has been as lucky as Anitá and her family. 2500 families in Inhambane province, including pregnant women and children under five, do not have enough to eat and drink. The country is currently facing the worst drought in 30 years. In total, around 1.9 million people in Mozambique are facing food insecurity. The people here mostly live from agriculture and livestock. Without water they cannot survive.For Atália, a new life has begun. With access to safe drinking water her children are now less likely to fall sick and can devote themselves to their studies. “I will use the water to grow vegetables, lettuce and onions. This way, we can survive the drought”, she says.
CARE is a member of the consortium COSACA composed of four humanitarian organisations. CARE, Concern, Oxfam and Save the Children support families most affected by the drought that is plaguing the country since last year.
Contact: +258 846521549



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