Many projects have been launched in Kinshasa for more than 10 years, mainly focused on sanitation. Parau, Pauk, Kin-Propre, Kin-Bopeto, Kintoko, each initiative aims to restore the image of the Congolese capital. However, the results are struggling to come. In this interview that she gave us, Grandma Alice Okoko describes the situation and proposes lasting solutions.
Hello Ms. Marie-Alice Okoko. Can you tell us briefly about yourself?
Marie-Alice Okoko : I have been a geographer applied to pedagogy for more than 10 years. In the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at ISP/Gombe, I am the secretary in charge of teaching. I am also a project manager.
What is the main environmental challenge in Kinshasa? How to overcome it?
Granny Alice Okoko : the first environmental challenge in Kinshasa is the fight against unhealthiness. To overcome this problem, four solutions are needed. First of all, the personal care of the Congolese. A few years ago, the European Union launched the PAUK Project, which gave rise to the different waste storage points in Kinshasa. Waste collection was carried out periodically and the landfill’s technical center was in charge of management. What happened to this project after the departure of the partner? In view of this first observation, I recommend that waste management be personally organized by the Congolese state. Follow-up and evacuation methods must also be implemented. Kinshasa had launched the “Kin-propre” and “Samedi salongo” operations. Each parcel must have the habit of cleaning its surroundings and managing its garbage. But there are no places to dispose of these trash cans. Third, we must invest in this sector. The leaders at the local level, the heads of the neighborhoods, of the streets, of the municipalities must think of a method of self-financing of health, in particular through the payment of taxes. Don’t expect the government to just organize this sector. It is also necessary a mesological education program (science that aims to study the reciprocal reactions of the organism and the environment, Editor’s Note) of the population to the health and protection of the environment. This will allow the awareness of the population and self-management of waste.
Why do the solutions considered and implemented by the government not provide convincing results?
Granny Alice Okoko : We need health education from kindergarten. Among the reasons for the failure of the numerous projects related to the environment in Kinshasa, there is in particular the lack of appropriation by the population. Environmental planning consists of the active participation of the population in all projects. When a project must be launched, the upstream population must be taken into account. She will be the guardian and monitoring of all steps. “Kintoko” is a good project. But you also need a biodegradable and recyclable waste processing plant. The Kin Bopeto campaign must integrate even the peripheral circles of Kinshasa.
The theme of the month of March in the DRC focused on the management of natural disasters, how to deal with it?
Granny Alice Okoko : For better disaster management, we need preventive measures. Building construction on swampy land will always result in flooding over time. This is where the disaster will have to be managed. Not the best way to act. We note that in the DRC, there is an absence of an urbanization policy. People build where they want. There is an absence of state authority. Matadi Kibala’s drama is an eloquent example of these catastrophes.
How should women participate in this fight from their homes?
Granny Alice Okoko : There is a saying in the environmental sector that “Think globally, act locally”. Environmental problems are generally global. The big polluters are China and the United States. Underdeveloped states like the Democratic Republic of the Congo are suffering the impacts. But strategies are developed at the local level. Women must be aware of this struggle. Housewives in particular, who went to school when environmental issues were not topical, will never know what action to take. Sensitized, they carry this fight in their communities.