“If I meet the Mayor of this municipality and policy makers of this country I will advise them that all houses found between 30 to 50 meters around the water catchments should be demolished and all farming activities stopped,” said Dr. Eric Fokam, of the University of Buea in an interview granted The Green Vision recently.
Drawing inspiration from a Masters thesis on the Assessment of Water Quality of Some Catchments in Buea defended recently at the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-Profit Studies, Dr.Fokam said besides reducing the water volume, people with houses around the catchments have septic tanks and household sea wage that definitely drain directly into the water catchment . Farmers also use pesticides that eventually leak into the water catchments. This according to him is detrimental to the health and general well being of those drinking from the catchments.
“There has been an increase in the number of cancer and sterility cases, that is, number of persons that will not be able to produce sex cells that will aid in reproduction as a result of these uncontrolled activities around the catchments. So we all have to be extremely careful and the authority has to take their responsibilities seriously and enforce the regulation in place” he advised.
Dr Fokam wondered why municipal services go round checking on constructions but security distances that are allowed for construction and other human activities around the water catchments are not enforced. He decried the carrying out of real estate businesses and other investments around water catchments.
“ This is really sad especially when it comes to people spending heavily on investments around the water catchments. I think that they are definitely making a major mistake because in the long run, they will lose those properties when the government will decide that they be demolished for the good of the community. It is essential for people not to waste money, efforts, time and resources investing in these areas,” Dr Fokam stated.
He elucidated his stance by a study, which shows that almost 70% of water catchments around the Buea municipality are contaminated by coliforms/ fecal matters. This according to him, will eventually pose as hazards to the health, and well being of the people and the economy of the nation.
Dr.Fokam underscored the need for proper sensitization of communities around water catchments and those activities around this area.
“It is essential to educate people that this water is for our common good and we cannot afford to destroy it. We may think that it has no effect on us but our children go to these places; they go bathing in the streams and may as well drink from neighbours. We call on everybody to understand that these are common property resources and must be well guarded for our common good. Not only construction, you have farming, car washing and other activities around the water catchments, which are essentially the sources of potable water for our community use. We should all understand that this is an essential matter of civic education,” he added.
Meanwhile, Article 29 of the Framework Law relating to Environmental Management prohibits the spilling, discharge or deposition of anything directly or indirectly likely to affect the physical, chemical or biological characteristics of both surface and ground water.