Burundi, Women excluded from development

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In one of the provinces of Burundi, a measure fell: Women are prohibited from exercising their profession of preparing food for fishermen. The story takes place in Rumonge (southwestern Burundi). The measure is administrative. It has already had consequences at the level of society. For me, sustainable development is only possible if it is inclusive.

It’s six o’clock. Residents of the town of Rumonge walk towards a beach on Lake Tanganyika. Sachets in hand, some go there to buy Ndagala (product of the lake), others for trade.

A category of women has already been there since five in the morning. They prepare food for the fishermen who spend a sleepless night in the lake. In turn, these women are paid. Thus, these women support their families.

Thunderclap. At the end of 2018, the activities of these women were prohibited by the administration. These women are currently experiencing difficulties in their families.

“It was my only source of income to feed my children. I have been doing the job since 1996. My children studied on the basis of the school fees I get from this job of preparing food for fishermen, ”explains Aisha, in her fifties, widow and mother of five children.

“Children no longer study for lack of means. They don’t have enough to eat. Three of them are already suffering from malnutrition. I did not see what to do, ”concludes the widow and mother of five children.

Separated from her husband because of corona virus disease , Nadine, mother of four children, does not know on which foot to dance. “As soon as the measurement was taken, my husband supported me. He left for the other side of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from where he was blocked following measures related to the fight against the coronavirus.

I was kicked out of the house, I’m staying with friends. Without any source of income, it’s a pure burden, ”laments this woman, with tears in her eyes.

A measure taken in haste

Before taking this action, the administration should first think about the various likely consequences. Women victims are already exposed to several negative effects of society.

Before the implementation of the measure, the administrators should think about it, do a thorough investigation to find out the family needs of these women.

The women concerned should also be prepared for integration into society to avoid all these consequences, according to “ Where is your brother », A local organization.

These women were accused of prostituting themselves to fishermen. But in reality, it is the new measures that could lead them to do so because they are unable to take charge of themselves.

Hope in cooperatives

These women are knowledgeable in the food preparation business. They unfortunately did it solo. Getting together in a cooperative association would be one of the alternative solutions that would be effective.

In a cooperative, these women could create their own restaurant. Fishermen or other individuals will be able to frequent it for food. But a big challenge these women face is access to finance.

“If at least we had financial capital, we could start with minimal projects to survive,” they say.
Another option for resolving this situation, which further weakens women, would be to promote training in practical income-generating professions.

The Rumonge Province has more than eleven fishing beaches. On these beaches more than four thousand boats are recorded. Each boat was assigned a woman to cook food for the team.

Today, due to an administrative decision, at least four thousand women are in the streets. Sustainable development will not be achieved if we ignore part of the population, let alone women who are vulnerable.

By Ndayisenga Pascal

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