Cameroon: Dying for Any Water in Buea

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Lum Edith Achamukong
March 25, 2012

The absence of safe water is reportedly rendering many residents of the South West Region of Cameroon despondent. This comes less than a week after the world commemorated the 2012 World Water Day.

Our network member Lum Edith Achamukong has just been in Buea, the most affected area. She witnessed this unfortunate situation and took pictures. As Edith reports, in Buea, taps are completely dry.

Long queues characterize public water taps as women and children spend several hours of the day fetching and transporting water in Buea. Fights as some people attempt to jump the queue are not new in this area.

A crowded water source in Buea (Picture by the Writer)

The rationing method previously applied by the organ charged with the supply of pipe borne water (La Camerounaise Des Eaux) has not satisfied the water needs of thousands of people at the foot of West Africa’s highest mountain.

This crisis has been attributed to the complete breakdown of very old water pipes put in place during the German rule of Cameroon decades ago. Little maintenance on the infrastructure now weighs on the population not without socio economic costs.

Statistics from the United Nations say 40 Billion working hours are spent carrying water each year in Africa and that equals to a year’s labor for the entire work force of France. Moreover, households in rural Africa spend an average of 26% of their time fetching water, and this generally involves women and children.

In Buea, several children and women spend hours fetching water (Picture by by the writer)

The water crisis is heightening at the hills of the award of a contract by CAMWATER to a Belgian company ASPAC CEMAC for the rehabilitation and extension of the water scheme in Buea. The populations are definitely hoping that this two-year project will be realized on time.

Studies for the expansion of the water supply systems in the Buea municipality were carried out some years ago. And the execution of the project begins this year, 2012.

This responsibility has been given to the water corporation CAMWATER that is specialized in heavy projects for the construction and expansion of water systems in Cameroon.

The project in the Buea municipality is aimed at doubling the capacity of production of water and also to rehabilitate the existing structures and extend the water distribution.
Two main sites have been earmarked for rehabilitation in this project: the two old catchment and production areas – that is, the German source at Upper Farms and the Musole source at Great Soppo. There are two new sites to be exploited during this project: one at Wokoko (below the Fakoship neighbourhood); and the other at Small Soppo around the popular Kai catchment area.

The project, as stipulated in the contract with CAMWATER, will take a total of 24 months to be complete. The objective is to double the volume of water supply in the Buea municipality from 6-thousand cubic meters per day – which is the maximum volume obtained during the rainy season – to 12-thousand cubic meters per day. The neighborhoods in Buea to benefit directly from this rehabilitation and expansion project are those that are usually worst hit by the water crisis. They include Buea Town, Bokwango, Upper Bonduma, Molyko, Mile 18, and the Mile 17 Motor Park area.

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