Water Sanitation: Cameroon’s Nightmare Coming To Light.
How comfortable the government can be when it comes to water distribution and sanitation is still shocking to many Cameroonians. A land documented in the Guardian post and world bank as Africa in miniature due to its vastness in resources and most especially benefits from the constant water flow. A country with four significant aquifers and a network of rivers. In the north, the Logone River flows into Lake Chad. The Benue River also runs north, emptying into the Niger River in Nigeria(SNV, 2017). In the south, the Ntem, Nyong, Sanaga, and Wouri rivers flow west into the Gulf of Guinea. Significant wetlands include mangrove forests on the coasts and the Years floodplains in the northern Waza Logone region. Lake Chad, at the tip of the extreme north of the country, is shared with Chad, Nigeria, and Niger(Bisrat & Berhanu, 2018a).
Cameroon has tectonic lakes (Ossa, Missoni, and Ejagham) and several volcanic lakes that store But faces problems with this water’s harnessing for drinking purposes. Access to sanitation in Cameroon fell from 61 percent in 2000 to 58 percent in 2010(Sanou et al., 2015). Simultaneously, access to drinking water and improved sanitation in Cameroon increased higher than average for sub-Saharan Africa during that period(Unep, 2012). A significant decrease began from 2010 to the present as the water reached a larger urban population than the rural. This occurs when urbanization is increasing, and an estimated 75 percent of urban residents live in informal settlements. The African development fund’s project report on semi-Urban Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation clearly states that the project will cover 19 Communes in six Provinces of Cameroon, namely Centre, Far North, Littoral, West, South, and South-West(Tchounwou et al., 1997)
. The 19 Communes will be supplied from 16 water supply schemes managed by CAMWATER, and the fact that 19 Communes targeted have not benefited from any investment in the drinking water and sanitation sector for more than two decades, leading to a severe deterioration of the DWSS systems(Mahe et al., 2013). Water sanitation in semi-urban and peri-urban regions Increasing the prevalence of waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera, and Diarrhea. Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by Vibrio cholera bacteria’s ingestion in fecal contaminated water or food. It is primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and adequate sanitation(Tchounwou et al., 1997). This is the case with people in the north 32%, west 27%, east43%, center45%, far north 67% and northwest 34%, the Cameroon region having an alarming rate of and respectively. With an average percentage of 6 dying monthly from these diseases
Who is to be blamed, the government or the people? It is a question most people seek to find an answer to, Although according to the society where I grew up, the blame is often attributed to the superior party being the government(Bisrat & Berhanu, 2018b). With the population attributing it to the duties and responsibilities that each government high ranking official such as the senators and council mayors should uphold for the safety of all. However, the problem not here is not who takes the blame or who is right, but the fact that progress between urban and rural water supply subsectors is also quite distinct: access rates are decreasing in both sub-sectors, and the progress is slower in rural areas(Djomassi et al., 2013). The rural water supply subsector is also less well-structured and is currently being overlooked by external funders.
In contrast, budget allocations to the urban water supply sub-sector increase significantly, especially with the privatized water distribution company Camwater. With the government saying once institutional reforms are completed, people worldwide will have sufficient access to potable drinking water all year round. Despite its high pricing for installation and bills throughout the year, nothing was done to remedy the situation.
Causes of water scarcity
The primary cause of this water scarcity and shortage in these areas is the mismanagement of resources. With embezzlement of funds and bribery and corruption regularly taking a higher toll in Cameroon at a rate of 42% in all sectors. According to Transparency international. Everybody wants to benefit from the national cake as it is commonly called(Bijl et al., 2018). Leading to funds allocated for this particular service streamlined or cut down, having an adverse effect on the nature of the water catchment facilities and distribution channels set into place. This was the case of the water catchment facility at the station hill in Bamenda that was termed contaminated in November 2016 due to a mad man having his bath and defecating in this containment, which did not have a roof(Rheingans et al., 2006). Thus, causing the lack of water in the sisia community of the Bamenda II municipality for three months, making people consume water from springs and wells which had not been purified all in the name of having the best source of water forgoing the fact that water which is termed clean is mostly that for artesian springs(Cheo et al., 2013).
We equally lack proper research before the construction of dams in a particular region or area of the countries in Cameroon. Most engineers, out of their genius minds as they call it, go ahead to make a means for rainwater harvesting to occur, so it fills the tanks and catchment facilities quickly for the people of most rural communities(Bisrat & Berhanu, 2018b). As stated in the blog building a catchment in Cameroon (Holly,2016) from yale University the water will dry out. Forgetting to investigate the rate of climate change and population in these areas and sub-Saharan Africa and Cameroon in particular and how acidic rains might impact the water flow getting into these tanks. Although some people call it stupid, the idea, in my opinion, still needs reworking and a structural adjustment(Villarín & Merel, 2020).
Nevertheless, just one question comes into mind: What happens during the harsh harmattan season in Cameroon? Especially in areas like the far north and northern regions with a seasonal structure of 9 months dry season and three months of the rainy season(Bijl et al., 2018). The answer is quite simple water shortage and eventually scarcity. Due to the eventually dry and empty catchment facilities and purification structures set in place. As they are also constructed in areas of shallow water with the concept that water will continuously(Cheo et al., 2013).
In the end, with thirty percent of the Cameroonian land made up of water, it is evident that they fall under the formula More People + More Money = More Water Demand. It is a simple equation: As populations increase and incomes grow, so makes water demand. The rate of water distribution is channeled mostly to the wealthiest urban areas of Cameroon(Moe & Rheingans, 2006). Quality water facilities are targeted towards affluent households while the poor or middle-income families are limited to consuming their water by the water distribution and purification company in Cameroon Camwater(Butler, 2017). Bringing about the critical questions which most people who have experienced such will ask.
What can be done?
Local portable and fixed water purification systems should be set into place to make it accessible to people in the various communities to purify their water on their own where the water which is fetched will pass through filtration in sand, gravel, and clay(Butler, 2017). Undergoing a boil at 1400degrees then cooled before being carried in clean preservation containers before being consumed by this community’s people(Moe & Rheingans, 2006). Reducing the rate of waterborne disease prevalence in these regions and sensitizing the community equally on maintaining an eco-friendly environment by avoiding the dumping of waste into streams. As well as the rate of charging for water distribution should be equitable. The government can equally subsidize the hard to reach communities with large tanks and vessels to fetch and store water in case of unforeseen circumstances(Tchounwou et al., 1997).
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