Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

In rainy Gabon, some seek water 'like in the desert'

by Staff Writers
Libreville (AFP) March 22, 2010
Gabonese mother Jeannine Bibila is exasperated by constantly dry taps in a country that has tremendous potential for water supply. "Here, to have water, you need to search. It's like being in the desert."

"In the desert, you don't find water easily. Sometimes, we go two weeks or even a month without water," explains Bibila, washing a huge pile of laundry at a public fountain in Kinguele, northeast of Libreville.

With streets muddied by rains, Kinguele is one of 85 districts in the capital that are officially described as "under-integrated" in development terms.

When the public fountain works, the water draws people from all round the neighbourhood. "When we see water like this, we're happy. We grab everything and come here," said Jeannine's neighbour, who asked not to be named.

Local people filled their bottles, buckets and jerry cans, while children enjoyed gliding through the jets of water in the strong and humid heat.

Without such water, Jeannine explained, "We go to the wells, but only to wash clothes and kitchen things. We can't drink that water. There have been times when soldiers brought us water. Here, we're suffering."

In December, residents of Kinguele showed their discontent by erecting barricades and blocking roads after several days "without a drop of water from the tap," said Bijou, from the neighbouring de Kinguele-Transfo district. The government reacted by sending military engineers with supplies.

Then the government warned the Company of Water and Energy of Gabon (SEEG), a subsidiary of the French group Veolia which holds 51 percent of its shares, to do its job or face losing the contract signed with Veolia in 1997.

At the end of a 20-year contract, the SEEG is expected to provide, transport and distribute drinking water and electricity throughout this nation of 1.5 million people, most of whom live in Libreville or in the economic capital in the south, Port-Gentil.

On its web site, Veolia states that it supplies 1.03 million residents with drinking water and 1.26 million with electricity, and says that the number of connections has grown by 50 percent since 1997, while the number of people with access to drinking water has grown by 70 percent.

The minister for energy and hydraulic resources, Regis Imongault, said on Sunday that President Ali Bongo "has given a mandate to the government so that within two years, people will be aware of very clear improvement in Libreville and other main towns."

Speaking on television a day before World Water Day on Sunday, Imongault said that "in a period of seven years, we should arrive at the level of 100-percent access to drinking water in all of Gabon."

In the heart of the capital, at the Venez-Voir slum where children only have badly potholed roads to play in, people see little relation between public announcements and statistics and the daily reality.

"They talk, they just talk. There are water cuts all the time. I've been here for nine years and it's always like that," said Aicha, a saleswoman from Mali.

"We have dirty clothes, cooking to do, we have to give the family something to drink and we don't have any water. You don't imagine that Gabon is like this before you come here."

The country straddles the equator, has abundant rain and a large number of rivers and streams crossing its tropical forests. Imongault recalled that the government has announced hydrolectric schemes to provide water and "clean, low cost energy."

At Avea in the northwest of the capital, Hilda describes the same problems of access.

"The problem is widespread in Libreville. Everybody suffers for water, even those with taps in their houses. They pay their bills and there are cuts in water supply every day."

Apart from these cuts, flooding and pollution by untreated water affect many "under-integrated" parts of Libreville, where marshlands have become built-up residential areas because of a rural exodus and the arrival of migrants hoping to find jobs and higher pay in the oil-rich country.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Worlds Most Usefull Tree Provides Low-Cost Water Purification
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 08, 2010
A low-cost water purification technique published in Current Protocols in Microbiology could help drastically reduce the incidence of waterborne disease in the developing world. The procedure, which uses seeds from the Moringa oleifera tree, can produce a 90.00% to 99.99% bacterial reduction in previously untreated water, and has been made free to download as part of access programs under ... read more

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement