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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Managing Water: Cameroon

Water in Africa

Africa, Cameroon

by Serena Williams, Kribi, Cameroon

I live in a predominantly fishing community. As such, the large bodies of water—the Kengue River and the Atlantic Ocean—make a community of water managers or micromanagers possible. From what I have seen, a large portion of my community is involved in the fishing industry—men who fish, women who are the market vendors of fish and other seafood, and children who assist in all the activities. While there is produce such as tropical fruits, potatoes, and yams readily available, the producers do not live in my immediate vicinity—Wamie Quartier—and I am therefore not acquainted with how farmers use water in the Kribi area.

by Kathleen Reaugh, Batouri, East Province, Cameroon

Water management is a very new concept in the East Province of Cameroon. Villages often are hard-pressed to maintain a community pump, and once it breaks they often return to traditional water-gathering methods. With two rainy seasons interrupted by a short dry season, most farmers harvest two crops annually, planting on March 15 and again on August 15. People generally do not plant a surplus, but instead plant just enough to get by, assuming the rainfall will come as expected.

by Karen McClish, Belita II, East Province, Cameroon

In families, it is the women and children who transport water from its source. It is rare to see a man transporting water. The only time a man would transport water is if he were making mud bricks to build a house.

by Maryanne Pribila, Bogo, Extreme North Province, Cameroon

There isn't an organized system for managing water. In general, getting water is hard work so conservation is always taking place. People use water sparingly because too many trips to the well is back breaking work.

by Madhuri Kasat, Garey, Extreme North Province, Cameroon

There is one forage technician in the entire district of Kaele, who happens to be a Garey resident. Each month, every woman must pay her one hundred CFU (approximately 15 cents) to use a forage. She pays her dues to the "responsible" of the forage, and this collector keeps the money in her home. The money is used to pay the technician to do any annual cleaning of the pump and accessories, and also for emergency repairs. Since wells do not require mechanical apparatus, the surrounding homes generally take charge of its maintenance. Supplies of river water fluctuate with the weather patterns. In families, women and children fetch water as needs arise.

by Lea Loizos, Bati, West Providence, Cameroon

As with all household activities, the women (i.e., the wife or wives) of a compound are in charge of managing water supplies for the home. When the water supply is low in the house, either the wife or one of her children will go to fetch water. Children learn how to carry water at a very young age. Once they are bit older, boys are usually excused from this activity. A man of a household is never seen carrying water.

Those farmers who are fortunate enough to have a stream flowing near their field often set up small-scale irrigation systems by digging canals and using the basic principle of gravity to irrigate their farms during the dry season. The rest of the community plans their agricultural calendar around the rainy season and thus are deeply affected by unusual or unexpected changes in the annual rainfall.

by Brooke Levandowski, Buea, Southwest Providence, Cameroon

SNEC (Societe Nationale des Eaux du Cameroon) is Cameroon's national water corporation, which controls the water supply in Cameroon's urban areas. Therefore, the SNEC water treatment facility in Buea manages subscriptions and payment of water bills, installation of the water meters, the water treatment facility, and distribution of water throughout Buea. Buea is divided into nine zones by SNEC for water distribution, with about 500 water meters per zone. Every month, the water meters are read and bills are distributed. (1,000 liters+ = 1 kiloliter = 1 unit of water; 1 unit of water costs 271 Cameroonian francs [(CFA]; 600 CFA = 1 U.S. dollar.)

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