Numerous residents of Gabon must travel long distances to access a standpipe in the hopes of filling a few jerry cans with water. Surprisingly, Gabon possesses abundant water resources, estimated at a potential 170 billion cubic meters annually.
Nevertheless, the nation is sorely deficient in water treatment and distribution infrastructure.
Gabonese people who are unable to travel long distances or purchase bottled mineral water often resort to using untreated water from wells or even from natural sources on the ground.
“It’s very dangerous for your health because during the season, germs build up. There’s no choice because there are children and there’s people in poor families who don’t have the means to buy mineral water. Or other people have to go to other areas. So there’s a well here, in Mafobi so people come to draw water to wash if they have no other choice”.
Geneviève Boussougou, aged 58, structures her daily routine according to the schedule for water supply. The sole public fountain in her neighbourhood is accessible for only a few hours each week, often during the late hours of the night.
“In my home, it’s complicated. The water only comes twice a week and only at weekends. And at what time! 1 hour, 2 hours. At the most, 3 o’clock. And you have to wake up the children because you can’t go out alone at a certain time because of the insecurity. You have to get all the children out of the house. Go with the wheelbarrows, the wheelbarrows that are outside, to the fountain where you were.”
The water supply has become an urgent public health concern. This has been identified as a top priority by General Oligui Nguema’s transitional government.