I have regained my dignity, my source of hope, single mother affected by Kasai Conflict says

Ngalula Kabeya (48)
Photo: ActionAid
Zimbabwe team
Communications Focal Person

I am the Communications Focal Person for ActionAid Zimbabwe.

Unpleasant memories of charred houses, an itching body bitten by crawling insects, and rains pouring on her day after day and uncountable nights still linger in Ngalula Kabeya’s (48) mind one and half years down memory lane.  Her life story however has moved from despair to hope, thanks to ActionAid support funded by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Ngalula, a single mother of six children affected by the conflict in the Kasai area of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), says the support provided to her by ActionAid has helped her seek medical treatment and has given her family a roof over their head. This follows her family’s displacement caused by the conflict which saw over one million people being displaced in the Kasai area central DRC in December 2016. She is from Miketa Village, Kasangai Sector, Miabi Territory, Kasai Oriental Province which was the hardest hit community in the Miabi territory housing over 400 people, all of whom are internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Ngalula is one of the 1100 persons assisted by ActionAid’s cash programme to enable people like her recuperate from the effects of the conflict. She received direct cash. Her family lost their home and farming equipment, and the conflict also caused them health problems, after being forced to live in the bush for a year and sleeping on wet surfaces after fleeing their homes in December 2016.

I received $100 which I had control over as I decided what to use it. I used 30 000 Congolese Franc (about US$18.75) to pay school fees for my children, 30 000 Congolese Franc (CF) for medical treatment, as all my family members had typhoid and malaria because we spent a year sleeping in the open with no mosquito net, eating unsafe food with no sanitary facilities, said Ngalula.

Our house was set on fire when soldiers attacked our village. When we returned from the bush, we joined 50 other households living in a dilapidated church with some open walls where mosquitoes continued to feast on us. My children lost out on their school and when we returned they had to repeat their classes after losing a year of education.

I am happy we have a place to call home however all of us are crammed in the one mud hut,” said Ngalula, who currently lives with four of her children - three boys and one girl whose age range is between 9 years and 18 years.  Ngalula paid 15000CF (US$9.40) to the people who constructed her mud house

Ngalula used part of the money to buy food.

After buying food from the money I got from ActionAid, our diet changed because I could eat maize meal instead of the cassava meal which I do not like.  In the bush and in the makeshift church we scavenged for food and all we could get were cassava roots. Soon after receiving the money we could eat twice a day instead of skipping some days with no food at all, she said.

ActionAid with support from the UNHCR, has assisted IDPs such as Ngalula with various interventions like direct food support and provision of non-food items such as clothes and direct cash and trainings on how to report sexual gender based violence (GBV). These communities are still vulnerable to sexual GBV as they are living in overcrowded conditions, some of whom are still living in open buildings while others have built one-roomed mud huts housing many people.

 About 2330 people, the bulk of them women, have been supported in the Kasai Oriental, as part of ActionAid’s response to the conflict in the Kasai Region.  ActionAid launched the women led protection programme in October 2017 targeting over 10,000 IDPs, host families, returnees and refugees in the Kasai Oriental and Kasai Central Provinces of DRC.  All in all, ActionAid has supported 26,450 people to date in the two provinces of the Grand Kasai Region including Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental.  Of all the people assisted by ActionAid programme in the Kasai region, 70 percent were women, 20 percent men, 10 percent child headed households.

The conflict in the Kasai area is believed to have started following the death of a traditional leader Kamwena Nsapu in Dibaya area, causing the displacement of over one million people in this region in 2016.