Posted by: Wasrag | September 6, 2015

Rotary in Cameroon

CameroonIn 1980, when Mbah Mbole Joseph first came to Limbe for a job with Cameroon’s national oil company, he found a small coastal town that was home to 40,000 villagers, the country’s main oil refinery, and one of its most important commercial ports. By the time Mbah Mbole retired in 2005, the population was approaching 100,000 and placing increasing strain on an antiquated sanitation system not built to accommodate the new arrivals.

In response, Mbah Mbole and other local Rotarians are looking to raise $460,000 to expand and improve the existing water distribution system to serve the more than 150,000 people now living in the region. The project’s host club, the Rotary Club of Limbe, is looking for other Rotary Clubs to participate through an international global grant.

“The demand [for water] is five times more than supply,” said Mbah Mbole. “We have water once in 3 days.”

Built on former palm oil plantations, Limbe’s new housing developments usually have no connections to existing sewer systems and new residents are left to fend for themselves. Children have to get up at dawn to fetch water, Mbah Mbole said, and occasionally are hit and killed by traffic as they cross the street.

Water scarcity and inadequate sanitation in Cameroon have a long history. In 2011, a cholera epidemic – precipitated by the absence of clean drinking water and inadequate sanitation – swept across the across country, killing hundreds. The country still faces a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene crisis, with 49 per cent of the population lacking access to safe water and 65 per cent with no access to indoor plumbing (WHO/UNICEF 2010). The poor sanitation is particularly devastating in coastal regions like Limbe with its heavy rainfalls and resulting run-off and contamination of local drinking water sources. Despite abundant resources, Limbe’s water and sanitation system is highly fragmented and underfunded, with a limited and poorly maintained infrastructure network. Last year, eight local communities formed a coalition to create the Bossumbu-Limbe II Integrated Community Water Supply Project (BOLIC Water), which will administer the Rotary-sponsored project.
While the coastal mountain climate provides plenty of rainfall, community members still battle for water every day. Some people rely on the popular but limited city network. But because of high demand the few taps installed near Limbe, quickly run dry.

“The newly populated areas don’t have access to water,” Mbah Mbole said, and people walk several kilometers just to wait long hours at the taps or collect water after peak hours late at night.

As Limbe has undergone rapid urbanization, development of its water infrastructure has not kept pace. Rainfall undeniably provides abundant surface and groundwater sources. But insufficient collection tanks and supply pipelines have forced several villages in the area to run dry, including Bossumbu, Kie, Botaland, Mokindi, Wovia, C.D.C Krater Camp, C.D.C Ngeme Camp, Bonjongo, Mokunda, Bosenge, Bonjava, Bojoke, and Bongala. Without a solution, the problem will only get worse as the local population is projected to increase by 20% over the next 20 years.

In the early 1980s, the local population came together to face the challenge, creating the Water Development Group (WAKIMM), which installed one of the region’s first water collection tanks. Now, local Rotarians, residents and other stakeholders are preparing a grant proposal for Phase I in which the club plans to install a gravity-fed water distribution system that can provide initial relief to the local water crisis. The villagers, in turn, have offered to serve as labor throughout the lifecycle of the project. At the end of August – more than a year since the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding by participating NGOs and local governmental officials – stakeholders will meet to bring together interested partners, plan next phases, and discuss the socio-economic impact of the project.

Priorities in Phase I include the laying of two 8.5 kilometer-pipelines from the Bossumbu spring catchment point to a hill tank in Kie as well as the construction of a smaller pipeline to the Bossumbu village, and a slow sand filter. This network will also provide multiple access points to community members along the way. The project partners have already finished the construction of the catchment system and one of the tanks, as well as the survey of the proposed pipeline route.

Please contact Mbah Mbole Joseph at nmbahmbole@yahoo.com for more information.

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