Sunday, March 24, 2013

Water, Water Everywhere and not a Drop . . .

More plentiful than potable
Major kudos to Syfia Grands Lacs, which features an excellent series of articles about drinking water in the Great Lakes. Only 13 percent of urban dwellers in the DRC have a tap in their home that functions at least part-time. Three quarters of Congo's population drink untreated water--tho' it's not clear what percentage of that water is potentially toxic. In Matadi, the state's failure to provide running water has created economic opportunities for some, including lucky well owners and bikers able to transport the stuff. Also in Matadi, people live off bags of water that sell for $0.50 per "canadian," which I'm guessing is about a liter. In Kikwit, women and girls rise well before dawn to begin their treck to one of the city's rare public water taps. Electoral promises to improve the situation have led nowhere. In Beni, in northeast Congo, taps built by the European Union are treated as precious community property. In Bas Congo, deforestation is threatening to destroy or pollute existing water sources.

Shoddy and illegal construction in Bukavu have blocked traditional waterways, causing floods and landslides.

A "ville morte" operation in Goma from March 11 to March 13 is said to have successfully shamed city authorities to relaunch road work. Hey, it's a start. If I were a Soros-type billionaire trying to help Congo, I'd spend a lot to help civil society groups do more stuff like this to pressure the government to do its job.

More on yesterday's fracas in Katanga: Some 250 rebels are now ensconced inside Monusco's compound in Lubumbashi. About 50 of them are wounded; 15 seriously. Estimates are that 15 rebels died in the fighting yesterday and that another 20 civilians were killed. It's not clear whether the "rebels" actually instigated the fighting or not: Braeckman says they were simply marching downtown together with their women and children.The rebels are Kata Katanga, a mai mai group from Mbjui Mayi. They are angry, apparently, at being cut off from the income of southern Katanga and worried that they've lost influence in the government, thanks to the recent demotions of co-ethnics ex-police chief John Numbi (suspected of having killed Chebeya) and Mulunda Ngoy (widely criticized for his handling of the elections), and the death of Kaumba Mwanke in an airplane crash.

No Revue de la Presse on Sundays.

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