Women stand up for local development of Lotumbe
Mme WUTEDJI Marie-Jeanne is the president of the Microcredit initiative in the village of Lotumbe. She is single but takes care of 7 children. Since 1997, she was appointed as a nurse at Lotumbe hospital but she is not yet paid by the government. That is why for her daily life, she relies on farming and cooking cakes. She comes to Mbandaka each month to purchase floor and sugar. She often travels in a non-motorized canoe in which she spends 8 days of which 3 days in coming and 5 days when she returns to her village.
Her own capital funds is about 100.000 Congolese Francs (as 110 US$). When she needs more, she has to borrow money from the microcredit group. She states that the microcredit is the key for economic autonomy of women in her village. “With microcredit, women are changing day to day, we become true economic agents and the village feels our presence”.
The group of Microcredit in Lotumbe comprises 28 women whose the main business is farming. Microcredit helps them to develop other small and faster income generating activities such as small scale trading, cooking breads,…. That is why she states: “Getting access to easier credit is a way to widen our fields and then assure food security, family education, clothing and health care, but also, the credit is a short way to develop our resources and the handle money every day.”
Microcredit association aligns women on a visionary way: they no longer work for meeting their only present needs but to assure their future. For that, Mme Wutedji is optimistic. She ensures that women are working hard because they have a vision: “We have want to impact on the future of our village. We want to create a real cooperative, a visible economic place in the community. We are planning to produce and supply Lotumbe in the basic local and even manufactured products. We are working for money but more, for a vision.”
Fortunately, she has learnt some lessons from the past. “We recognize some failures in the past. We think that we need to make a difference. Perhaps we failed in the process of our development because women were not practically involved in the management of village development. Now, we want to boost a new way in which women are the managers and deciders of the process. For example, we think that, in the case of the community store, we will contribute our money, each lady will give a certain number of shares and then we will constitute a local capital seed. We will appoint some sellers and then, we will be the direct owners, the managers and the controllers of the activities”, she said.
But some facilities could shut up the process. Then she added: “For our success, what we need more is the transportation facilitation. If we get our own out-board motor, we will be faster in our travels on the river, we will earn in time and in money. Instead of spending 8 days, we will use 3 only. We will get also money from other passengers. ”
Let’s wait and see.
SAFARI Désiré/Local Development Advisor.