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Heavy traffic and giant potholes make it hard going and the closer we get, the worse the road becomes, eventually deteriorating into little more than a muddy pass. Self-built houses made from concrete slabs and sheets of metal cling to slopes and hand-painted signs, some in Chinese, advertise the sale of building materials.
But on the day we arrive in Pedreira, which, although 20km from the centre of the capital, is still classed as Luanda, no water has come from the new communal taps for 14 days. Domingas Vunge, a year-old local who is a mother of six, sighed. And even when it works, it is not enough and we have many queues and confusion here.
Four out of ten taps working "In fact, out of the 10 taps we have in the wider area here, only four are working. It makes big problems for people as they have to travel very far to get their water, sometimes up to 9km or 10km," Calombe said.
He said the situation had been worsened by recent heavy rainfall that had made the road almost impassable at times. It enjoys the most rainfall in Southern Africa and has twice as much available water per capita as Zambia or Mozambique and an estimated 10 times more than South Africa, according to the United Nations. In some parts of Luanda as many as 10 people can share one chafariz. Supply problems and faulty machinery, like that in Pedreira, can mean taps stop working for days or even weeks at a time.
Large amounts of poorly planned, post-war construction work carried out by rival companies can lead to new pipes being laid one day and cut the next, followed by a protracted disagreement over who is responsible and who will carry out repairs. Meanwhile, those who can afford to live in the centre of Luanda, either in a new building or one of the few where the plumbing is still intact, enjoy piped water which costs only 32 kwanzas per 1 litres. Poor sanitation Bad -- or in the case of Pedreira nonexistent -- drainage systems often lead to puddles of stagnant water that turn green in the heat, giving off a horrid stench and making perfect breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Nationwide, diarrhoea claims the lives of more than 20 children a year, the third-biggest killer after malaria and acute respiratory infection. The poverty and mud of Pedreira is certainly a different world from the steel and glass skyscrapers springing up in the centre of Luanda, housing armies of well-dressed smartphone-carrying office workers.
In the United Nations Human Development Index the country was ranked of the countries surveyed; by comparison, South Africa sat at and Botswana at The few facilities provided by the colonial Portuguese administration in the s and s, if not destroyed by landmines, are now either on their last legs or totally defunct.
In , the government created a water sector development strategy, which outlined how it would tackle supply and distribution problems. Some early attempts were made to rehabilitate supply lines, but the lack of know-how and management led to little progress. In , the government launched the recent Water for All programme, which is responsible for building and rehabilitating water supply systems and community access taps, like the one in Pedreira, across the country. Social mobilisation Boreholes are being drilled, new taps installed or existing ones repaired and localised water treatment facilities are being set up in rural areas next to rivers.
Now, the number has gone down to about 2 a year, with fewer than 20 cases in Luanda so far in This shows the progress that is being made. Expensive government commercials show smiling communities queuing happily for water and the secretary of state for water, Luis Felipe da Silva, seems to spend his working week crossing the country to switch on taps and cut the sod for new boreholes.
According to one expatriate community worker, the government is sometimes a little free and loose with its statistics and it considers a community to have water if it has a water source, regardless of whether that source is working.
For many, though, a step in the right direction remains a step in the right direction. In response to needs they have identified they have helped set up a number of water committees like the one in Pedreira. One of the most successful is based in the sprawling musseque of Ngola Kiluange in the Sambizanga municipality, half way between central Luanda and Pedreira. From inside a walled compound, committee member Jose Candido proudly opens up the lid of this precious resource and explains how they oversee supply to a number of taps in the bairro, selling each litre bucket or container at a price of 5 kwanzas about US5c.
The taps are switched on for a set period each day, he said, to avoid wastage and they are able to monitor the reservoir levels and manage supplies until the next Epal delivery. The funds are spent on wages for the tap monitors crucial to ensure orderly queues and to pay for any maintenance or extra fittings, like external metal cages to prevent vandalism.
A share of the cash is also spent on community education to promote hand-washing, water treatment and better sanitation techniques.
Adao Adriano, a DW coordinator, said: "This type of community-based management is helping to ensure people are getting water at a fair price and that supplies are maintained.
But when there are problems, the community members are still the ones who pay. Primary country.
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