Assignment for Oxfam Novib
Until a few years ago a dozen houses stood at the foot of a hill in Beu, outside the city of Beni. Now only with weeds overgrown plateaus remember of the neighbourhood. The hill, which consists mainly of sand and rock formations, was a great danger to residents. "A large rock destroyed the house of my neighbour during heavy rainfall. After this I was terrified it would also happen to us," says Kambale Bulambo, a father of five.
In 2012 Multi-Actions d’Assistance aux Marginalisés et Sinistrés (MAAMS), a local partner organization of Oxfam Novib, commissioned a seismologist to examine the risks of the location for the residents. His conclusion was shocking: the residents needed to move as quickly as possible. In total 248 households who were at risk. But there was only enough funding to relocate of 81 of them. After consultation with the local authorities, they provided the residents with a plot of land where they could build a new houses with the help of MAAMS.
In 2012 the exodus began. Kambale Lulambo and his family were one of the fortunate ones who could move. "Where we live now, there is no danger and we were able to build a better house." But the location location offers its own problems. “When it gets dark we can not walk past the prison without soldiers harassing us. And the road the farmers use to transport their crops is in a poor condition.” His wife adds: "Because the city is now further away this creates a problem for pregnant women who need to go to the hospital to give birth. We need a clinic here. And the school also needs a revamp!"
Not everybody accepted the offer to move elsewhere. Although their plot at the foot of the hill is not ideal, the Kamabu family ultimately decided not to leave. "We have been living here since 2002”, explains one of the sons. “We do suffer from the water that comes down the hills, but I do not believe it is as dangerous as they say it is. The offer of MAAMS was really good, but the other place is so remote. And besides that, I grew up here. This is my home!"