Buea, the capital of the Southwest Region of Cameroon located on the eastern slopes of Mount Cameroon has lately been suffering from acute water shortage. 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 300000 inhabitants. The scarcity of water in this 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.
As a consequence of 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 have carry water for their domestic chores before living their homes. The local population is more exposed to diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrheal 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. In this light, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) has developed initiatives that involve working with local populations to fight against water crisis in Buea. This initiatives include educating the communities and 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 have been fully active in protecting these catchments through planting environmental friendly trees around the water catchments with massive participation of the local population.
Water is one of the most precious resources on the planet and it is easy to think that it is always plentiful since it covers 70% of our planet. Unfortunately for us, only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use. Consequently, more than 1 billion people do not have access to a source of clean drinking water, and around 3 billion experience water scarcity at least one month per year.