“it is embarrassing to say, but I just have to reveal that, in my house we go for more than two days without bathing, sometimes we can’t even flush our toilets, my children are now perpetual late comers in school, because they trek very long distances to get little water which we can manage. If not for the few rich people who have constructed boreholes, enclosed in their mighty fences, and make water available for a few hours once or twice a week, I wonder what we would have done” says Asong Peter, an inhabitant in Sandpit.
Buea, capital of the Southwest Region, located on the eastern slopes of Mount Cameroon has been suffering from acute water shortage. Lack of potable water has been an embarrassing phenomenon in most neighborhoods. For more than four months and counting, taps have gone dry, with the precious liquid becoming a very scarce resource. This town is blessed with abundant water resources but paradoxically the inhabitants of this region are facing a serious water crisis as there is insufficient water to simultaneously support both human and ecosystem water needs. Moreover, the capacity of the main water supply authority CAMWATER (Cameroon Water Utilities Corporation) is insufficient to cater for the over 300000 inhabitants. The scarcity of water in Buea is attributed to: increase in population and rapid urbanization that exert tremendous pressure on the water resources; pollution resulting from poor waste disposal and the use of agro-chemicals (pesticides, herbicides etc.) around water catchments; complete breakdown of old water pipes due to little or no maintenance; and the degradation of water catchments.
A certain mama Linda explained how she had been suffering for five years because of water crisis. She has six children but there is no water to take good care of them. She and her children live mostly on fried food. She spends her heart earned money only on water. She always hires someone to fetch water. If she doesn’t have money, her children go on a week without taking proper baths, they wear mostly dirty clothes because there is no water for Laundry. Her children are always ill because of poor hygiene as a result of water crisis. However, they depend on rain water which means that, they have water only during the rainy season to pull on with their activities.
Due to water scarcity, the local populations are forced to trek for over long distances just to get to a drinkable source of water. Students and workers in Buea do not meet up school and office time due to the fact that they need to follow long lines every morning in order to fetch water for their domestic chores. The local population is more exposed to diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses which are all associated to water scarcity. If strict measures are not taken to fight against this crisis the local population are going to face other problems such as hunger and desertification that are worse than the ones listed above.
Government authorities on their part have struggled to curb the water crisis like constructing boreholes, but this has been futile as such boreholes and water tanks are very little to quench the thirst of the increasing Buea population. The Environment and Rural Development Foundation the leading Conservation Organization in Cameroon together with her partners is working enormously to see the malice of this water crisis reduce through her intervention in Water catchment Development. Also, ERuDeF and her partners plans on drilling about 30 boreholes in some rural communities around Buea. This will go a long way in reducing the pains suffered by the Buea Municipality inhabitants.
The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) Through the ERuDeF University Institute has also developed initiatives that involve working with local populations to fight against water crisis in Buea. These initiatives include educating the communities on the protection of water catchments.
Education is critical to solve the water crisis. In fact, in order to cope with future water scarcity, it is necessary to radically reform all forms of consumption, from individual use to the supply chains of large companies. Without proper sanitation, the water becomes full of diseases and unsafe to drink. Besides, improving the sewage systems in specific areas is another way to prevent water scarcity from becoming any worse. In addition, improving water infrastructure must be a priority, as water conservation and efficiency are key components of sustainable water management.
Protection of water catchments cannot be left out when talking about water crisis in Buea because these area serve as sources of pure water. ERuDeF has been fully active in protecting these catchments through planting environmental friendly trees around the water catchments with massive participation of the local population.