Irrigation and Deforestation; root Causes of Water Crises in Cameroon

Acute water crises plaguing Southwest Cameroon has been attributed to high dependence on groundwater for irrigation, clearing of fields and massive cutting down of trees for crop cultivation.

Most communities in this region depend heavily on ground water supply for irrigation of crops like Irish potato, carrots, leaks, green beans, cabbage, cucumber etc. These crops are supplied to urban centres across the country and exported to neighbouring countries harvesting lots of profit.

The lucrative nature of this venture is attracting many, who cut down trees for more farmland.

Such practices have been contributed to climate change, whose impact is also being felt in the region. Extreme drought is increasingly being felt in the region especially in areas of very high altitude through scarcity of fresh/ drinkable water

Statistics indicate that only 1 km3 of the 208 km3 of renewable water resources is used for drinking. Also, access rate to fresh water in many communities in the country is still low and far from the country’s millennium goal which targets (43, 9%); the rate of water sanitation and hygiene is worse (36%).

Women and children go long distances to collect water for domestic use and for drinking.

Watershed protection and restoration by massive tree planting, harvesting of good quality underground water/ conservation, storage and supply to local communities have proven to be the best measures of mitigating this plight.

Urgent measures are therefore needed to build resilience to climate change and protect water sources.

This will aid in contributing toward the realization of Cameroon’s millennium development goal for water supply and sanitation. It will as well assist in promoting best practices in water management for improving water supply and food security for rural and general economic development.

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