Every day before going to school, Pulcherie and her brothers get up early and head to fetch water a short walk from their home.
The trouble is, everyone else in their district of the Cameroonian capital Yaounde does the same, even though the source is unreliable and the water untreated. The wait "is long and exhausting," said Pulcherie, 11.
It's not much better at home. "Sometimes we wait up until four o'clock in the morning but the water still isn't running."
Cameroon has an abundance of freshwater resources - Lake Chad lies on its northern border - but its water sector is highly fragmented and underfunded, according to a UN report published last year.
The taps have been running dry since early January, not just in Pulcherie's home district of Essos but in many other parts of the capital and elsewhere in this west African state.
Sometimes there's no water for days. In some areas it can be weeks.
At Camerounaise des Eaux, the private company that provides running water at a price, they say supplies have dropped enormously because of the falling level of the river Nyong in the centre of the country.
The company blames a prolonged dry season for the Nyong drying up.
Still, public discontent is perceptible: in late January, residents in the Damas quarter of Yaounde threatened violence.
Such a feeling of revolt "is understandable," said Theophile, who lives in the area. "We suffer a lot because of (the lack of) water," he added.
Then he headed off with the 20-litre (5.2-gallon) jerrycan he has got into the habit of filling at a bore-hole about two kilometres (just over a mile) from his home.
Under public pressure, municipal authorities have formed teams consisting mainly of firefighters and policemen who supply needy districts with water - via fire hoses.
Long queues quickly form whenever they arrive at the distribution points, with people carrying all sorts of containers and jerrycans.
"It's a good thing. It allows people to get their supplies" while stifling "threats of revolt", said Emmanuel Moubitang on distribution day in Essos.
Yet the fact Cameroon is experiencing shortages, giving the nation's huge water resources, points to a much wider failure than a river drying up.
The sight of firefighters distributing water is "a disgusting, unacceptable situation," lamented a senior member of a non-governmental organisation under cover of anonymity.
"It shows up the failure of the system," he added, saying all Cameroonians "should be ashamed."
The government recently approved an investment programme worth 609 million euros (827 million dollars) for the water sector after a 20-year freeze, said Michael Tomdio, the minister in charge of water.
Even when everything is working, only 29 percent of Cameroonian households have direct access to drinking water, the government admits.
And even being linked up to the network doesn't guarantee permanent access to running water in this country of nearly 19 million residents.
In the Nsimeyong III-Ebom suburb of Yaounde, for example, water hasn't been flowing through the pipes for more than a year now, according to one resident, Etienne Amougou.
He said Camerounaise des Eaux didn't appreciate it when people opposed to monthly maintenance charges for water meters "purely and simply tore down the meters".Reuse content