Menkao's Community News

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Thanks to the generous support of donors, we’re making great progress toward the well-being of children and their families. These are a few of the areas we focused on in the past year: 

The Menkao community is located in a peri-urban area on the periphery of Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Despite its proximity to the city, Menkao has a rural look and feel. The damp tropical climate has two seasons, with heavy rains in April, November, and December. In the rainy season, the average temperature is 28.5°C. In the dry season, it is 24.1°C.

Access to clean drinking water is severely limited. There are few springs, so households use rainwater and water from rivers and indigenous wells. There is one improved well but it does not meet community needs. Vegetation is a steppe savannah with scattered fruit and palm trees. Most families practice subsistence agriculture, but average household income is just $1 per day, which severely limits parents' ability to provide properly for their children. Homes are simple, and often made of mud bricks and thatched roofs.
Water, Sanitation, Hygiene
  • 4 households now have access to handwashing facilities and have learned how to use them
  • 3 water and sanitation committees received training, learning how to maintain the village water source and provide cleaner water for children.
  • 33 adults learned to sell products or services to sustainably maintain local water sources and hygiene, earning an income while helping their community.
  • 61 faith leaders learned about hygiene, sanitation or how to affect change in a person's actions, so they can be better-informed role models for youth.
  • 1 broken water source has been repaired, providing families with better access to clean water.
  • 2519 more people now have a latrine or toilet at home, enabling households to have better sanitation.
  • 17136 more people now have a new water source within 30 minutes of their home, providing families with year-round access to clean drinking water.
  • 2 local communities were trained in proper sanitation and no longer had people defecating in open spaces, helping protect more children from diseases.
  • 3000 children now have clean water at their school or education centre, giving them easy access to drinking water and improving their learning environment.
  • 2370 patients visited health facilities that had drinking water available on the premises, giving healthcare workers and patients access to clean water.
  • 23 health and hygiene clubs or programmes were established in schools, helping students learn about clean water, hygiene and good sanitation habits.
  • 5100 students have hand-washing facilities and soap at their school, helping to keep them healthy and creating a cleaner learning environment.
  • 565 households received hygiene training and now have hand-washing facilities with soap, enabling families to improve hygiene at home and reduce diseases.
Community Development
  • 11 community service projects were implemented
Health and Nutrition
  • 1 community-led monitoring and dialogue or lobbying process and meeting on health issues was conducted by community
* Results achieved from October 2018 to September 2019

Explore Menkao

current conditions

To protect the privacy of children, this map shows only the general area of the community, not the exact location.

The needs in Menkao

Children face many obstacles that keep them from getting the most from their education, including a shortage of qualified teachers. The few teachers who do work in Menkao earn less than $10 a month, and a lack of government funding means teachers often do not get paid at all, which causes low motivation and morale.

There are few schools, and they lack desks, teaching aids, toilets, and clean water. The lack of schools also leads to severe overcrowding, with the same school being used for primary students in the morning and secondary students in the afternoon. Many parents cannot afford to send their children to school, and this leads to high dropout rates, and early marriage, especially for girls.

Health Care
There aren't enough health facilities in Menkao to provide adequate care to the community. The closest hospital is 70 km away, and people sometimes never make it there because they cannot afford the travel costs. Existing health facilities lack updated equipment and a sufficient supply of pharmaceutical products. Health workers lack proper training and are unmotivated because salaries are low. These factors severely limit parents ability to care properly for their children.

Few families in Menkao have more than a tiny piece of land on which to cultivate crops, yet most households rely on rudimentary agriculture. This makes it very difficult to grow enough food and earn enough of a living to provide for their basic needs. Manioc, maize, and groundnuts are common crops, but yields are poor. This is due to less effective traditional farming techniques, poor farming tools and inputs, and a lack of fertile land. A lack of integration between animal husbandry, fruit growing, and fish farming compounds the challenge, making it increasingly difficult for parents to meet the nutritional needs of their children.

Limited access to information about HIV and AIDS means many people do not know how to protect themselves from the disease. Myths abound, and poor management of the disease means many people do not get the care they so desperately need. Often, children and other community members do not receive appropriate HIV-prevention education, which leaves them vulnerable to engaging in high-risk behaviours.

There is no screening centre in Menkao, and no system in place to identify and care for people living with HIV or AIDS. Further increasing the risk of HIV transmission is the fact that the Menkao area is located close to a main national highway. Many travelers engage in risky sexual activity, including prostitution, which in turn results in high infection rates.

Water and Sanitation
Only 10% of households in the Menkao community have access to safe water, which makes children and families susceptible to waterborne diseases. Women and girls also have to walk long distances to collect water. For those who are enrolled in school, this often makes them late for class, which in turn negatively affects their education.
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Life cycle of a sponsorship community

Menkao,  is in Phase 2

PHASE 2: Evaluate and grow

We monitor progress and make adjustments to meet goals. More community members become involved, lead projects and gain ownership of their success.