Following the World Environment Day celebrations in June, I want to tell you the truth about the environmental conditions in Mbuji Mayi, the chief town of Kasaï-Oriental Province in the centre of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
How can we live in a healthy environment?
“Every morning when I wake up, I sweep the whole courtyard outside my house and the part of the road which is in front of our land,” 12-year-old Lohisse explained to me. He lives not far from me. “I bring all the rubbish together and throw it in a ravine.” Due to a lack of public bins, the majority of inhabitants throw their household waste in the streets of Mbuji Mayi.
Acting on his proposal, the family has begun weeding the surrounding areas of their land and, in their place, a beautiful lawn has been planted. Every day, Lohisse and his brother maintain this new lawn and get rid of the weeds which can grow there.
This good example set by Lohisse has rapidly been followed by his neighbours. “They are doing the same thing as us,” the young boy explains. “All of a sudden, our environment isn’t dirty anymore,” he says, proudly.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting the environment
Dirt and household waste are a source of pollution and illness: malaria, poisoning, typhoid fever, cholera, and others. These diseases might originate from the spread of microbes, parasites and other frightening carriers for children.
Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees the right to health for every child. I invite all young children in the Kasaï-Oriental Province, and the DRC in general, to follow Lohisse’s example and make their environment clean and healthy. By doing that, we can avoid numerous diseases which can be deadly for children.
I demand that the authorities in Mbuji-Mayi ensure good hygiene in the town by re-launching the “Salongo” scheme. Every Saturday, the inhabitants used to participate in cleaning public places, but this stopped some time ago.
The problem is not only found in the streets, because even our schools have become dirty. I invite the heads of primary, secondary and professional schools to put out bins and, above all, to organise cleaning with the students.
Read other articles on environmental protection in DRC:
Kindly translated from French by Lucy Oyelade
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