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WSUP or Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor - Julieta's story

Aug 2012

Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) are working in a number of cities in Africa to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions for the poor communities. Borouge and Borealis became members of WSUP in 2007 as part of their “Water for the World” initiative in order to help them make a real difference to these people’s lives.

In Maputo, Julieta Magaia struggled to earn enough money to support her children. With the recommendation of her friends and the community, a WSUP supported initiative chose her to manage the water distribution system which provides a small income that improves the quality of life and devotion for her family.

Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) is a partnership between the private sector, civil society and academia focussed on addressing the increasing global problem of inadequate access to water and sanitation for the urban poor and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal targets, particularly those relating to water and sanitation. Borouge and Borealis became members of WSUP in 2007 as part of their “Water for the World” initiative in order to help them make a real difference to these people’s lives.

Each day 180,000 people migrate to the large cities around the world and by 2030, it is estimated that 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. WSUP are working with local service providers, both public and private, to improve the life of those living in poor conditions in a number of cities in Africa. Julieta Muinga lives in one of these poor communities in the Chamanculo district of Maputo, Mozambique. For years she had struggled to make enough money to bring up her five children but when the Tchemulane Programme, supported by WSUP reached her neighbourhood, things changed for good. Nacima Figia, one of WSUP’s team in Mozambique describes the impact that the programme had on her life.

Julieta’s struggle to raise her children

As a single mother, raising her children had always been difficult and to earn money she travelled long distances to work as a maid but she barely earned enough money to cover her travel costs. She often had to leave her children alone during the day and lived with the constant fear that her children would not be safe. Her neighbours and in particular the local community leader, monitored this situation closely and noted that, despite her struggle, she always showed great responsibility towards family and work, and resilence towards hardship with pride – a quality that the local community respected.

The WSUP programme comes to Julieta’s community

The Tchemulane programme is a WSUP supported initiative, developed in partnership with the Maputo municipality and the local NGO Optar to establish essential community services in poor areas of the city. Activities in the Chamanculo district involved delivering improved water and sanitation services. When the community heard the good news that their services were going to be improved they gathered to discuss what they would need to do to manage these services in a sustainable way. To everyone it was clear that someone would be required to operate the water distribution point and the community chose Julieta.

Julieta was thrilled and asked herself, “Why me? Why have I been chosen?” The local leader, sensing her anxiety, explained,

You were chosen because of how you strived to survive and support your family. We are creating an opportunity for us all to work together to minimize our suffering.

Local Leader —

Julieta happily accepted the task of managing the water sales and the residents collected the equivalent of US$16 which would enable her to purchase water and start reselling it to the community.

A brighter future for Julieta and her children

Julieta is much happier now because the income that is generated from the business helps to improve her family nutrition; she now has time to rest and devote time to her children. She now has money to buy better food and clothing. When her family and friends visit her, she is proud to be able to provide a decent meal. Her life has improved dramatically.

Managing this business has given me hope and also provides essential services to the whole community. I am learning about business skills and am dedicated to assisting my community. I no longer doubt my ability to build a better future.

Julieta Magaia —