International Women’s Day: “The Internet has reached our home but water has not reached it”



Image source
Iskander Rekik

Image caption

Rania Mashriqi, tourist guide in the Jendouba area in northwest Tunisia

In the far northwest of Tunisia, where the Atlas mountain range extends at the border with Algeria, an area known for its enduring greenness. It has a small village with no single tap in its homes. There Rania was born thirty years ago.

Rania grew up in that area – which she considers “the most beautiful in Tunisia” – and she sees the women of the village of Ruwaie go daily to search for drinking water, and she also goes with her cousins ​​in the summer to help find eyes of water and fill the “pedions” and take them home, but she realized Later on, this “beautiful journey” is in fact a severe daily suffering experienced by women in some rural areas in the Jendouba region. Fetching drinking water is the responsibility of the woman, not the man in those countryside.

Rania Mashriqi left her village after obtaining a high school diploma to study in the capital, and obtained a master’s degree in biology, then she studied tourist guidance and became a tourist guide for visitors to the mountains of the region that she knows well.

Thirty years and Rania watches her mother, Shahila, who goes to the valley every day to fetch water: “The whole world has evolved, except the village has not developed. The problem of water is a problem forever. I ask myself why? Kalshi is developing only with this issue. “.

“Why does a woman have to carry water on her back or on an ass, and we walk many kilometers when we are in 2020. I studied and worked so my mother calls me and tells me I do not know the writing .. You write about us Rania says.

Image source
Rania Mechergui

Image caption

Ranias mother (with a blue dress) and her husband’s mother combine basil

Women go walking to Algeria … anger

Shahla, 48, did not wait for her daughter to publish her story on Facebook, but she herself took what she saw fit: She organized protest marches for tired village women several times over previous years.

As the seamstress for women who live nearby in faraway homes, she has a telephone number of all women, and they are about 50 women, so she calls them to agree on the march. The most recent of these protests was on Sunday, February 23, as women, along with their husbands and sons, went out to a dam in the area.

Shahla said on the phone: “The women organized the march, and when the men heard about it, they went out with us. I got tired because of the water’s eyes, and the women got tired. When he suggested them to go out on a march, they agreed with me … Every woman tells me: I am with you.”

About four years ago, the women marched and crossed the border and entered Algeria for their anger over the lack of drinking water.

Shahla recalls: “We crossed the border to hear power in Tunisia. They greeted us on the Algerian border and told us Welcome .. fill in waterAlso, the Tunisian National Guard came and asked us to go back to our homes and said that they will look into our problem, but nothing has changed. ”

It appears that the spirit of the Tunisian revolution also inflamed the enthusiasm of rural women. Before 2011, women were referring to officials and asking to meet them face to face in their offices to explain their suffering, “says Rania,” but after the revolution the mentality changed, and people knew that they had the right to speak and protest. ”

Image source
Iskander Rekik

Image caption

Bidoun water written on it: “Thirsty for the government, angry.”

“Another world”

The women’s last march was toward a dam close to their homes, about 3 kilometers away – but this distance is not comparable to the distance that women usually travel to reach the eye of water, whether walking or riding on donkeys.

This distance ranges between 10 and 20 kilometers – per day, and the number of daily trips to fetch water increases in the summer because many sources of water dry up their time.

All that Shahla and the rest of the women living in these remote areas of government want is for the water to reach the road near the houses instead of going to the water sources, and it seems realistic in its demands and knows that the water cannot reach her house.

It also adds that the official who met them on the day of the last march suggested that they share the costs, and said that everyone accepted this and said that they would find a way to collect the required amount.

“In the past, they brought us water to the faucets on the way near the house, and we were satisfied with this situation. This situation lasted only 3 years – before the Tunisian revolution – and we were organized, then the water was cut off from us and we drank like the first from the sources.”

Rania no longer lives in her parents ’house, as she now lives with her husband in the city of Tabarka, and sometimes her mother visits her, who says to me:“ When I visit Rania’s house, I see another world. I don’t imagine that a day will come when I will fill the water from the spa (tap). I think it is impossible To reach the water to my home. ”

I ask her why they do not migrate to areas with better services, and she says she is happy with the life of the countryside, “We love each other and appreciate each other. In the summer, for example, he helps a car who brings water to his wife and the neighbors.”

She asserts that she “cannot migrate” despite the fact that four families closed their homes and migrated close to the city because of the lack of water and the difficulty of living.

Image source
Rania Mechergui

“People do not pay.”

420,000 people live in the state of Jendouba, 64 percent of whom work as farmers.

In the state, there are two of the largest dams in Tunisia (the Bani Mutir dam and the Bouhrtma dam), along with nearly 40 mountain lakes – so the residents of the region protest against not providing them with water despite this water richness.

However, Abdel Hamid Manja, director of drinking water and rural equipment at the Ministry of Agriculture, explains that the presence of a nearby dam does not mean that it is possible to drink from it. He explains that some of these areas live in scarcity of underground water resources, in addition to the difficulty of terrain and sparse housing, and all these things make the cost of providing direct connection to homes with drinkable water channels high.

But he says the ministry is working on projects that help overcome these difficulties.

The ministry spokesman also says that this issue is a “joint responsibility”, noting that some people refuse to pay the consumption fees for drinking water, and that some people supply water from unattended water points without obtaining a permit.

The insecurity of the water resources is causing fear among the residents who say that kidney disease is widespread among them, especially among the very poor who are unable to buy bottled water from the shops.

Men of the region “lazy”

Image source
Iskander Rekik

In addition to the pressures that women live due to having to provide drinking water for the home, women appear to be stuck in social problems; men of the region are said to be “lazy” as they spend their time in cafes or do seasonal work for only a month or two, such as collecting cork, and the prevailing mentality there It is that women are the ones who go out to work in agriculture and are responsible for all other difficult tasks, including providing water for the home.

She has a husband and son craving next to her two daughters. I ask her who brings water if she gets sick?

“I do the impossible to fetch water even if I am sick. I do not leave my home without water. If I was very sick my husband pays money to someone going by car to fetch water with him. He refuses to go on the ass for the distance. He does not go this is my responsibility. But he asks car owners for help To bring water in the summer. ”

Her daughter Rania explains that the rural woman used to do everything and make decisions that men would not take, so “it is the woman who rules not because she is respectful at home, but because she does everything. In many cases, she is subjected to violence when she returns from work; her husband takes her salary She earned from her all-day work in agriculture. ”

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