The Environment and Agriculture
by Serena Williams, Kribi, Cameroon
The current system of centralized water cleaning and distribution in Kribi depends upon complex sets of technology, ranging from piping systems to the uses of various chemicals, such as chlorine, bleach, sulfide, and lime.
There are many people in the area whose primary source of water is the community well. In the nearby and more rural community of Grand Batanga, many people drink water from the rivers in which they wash clothes and bathe. No current forms of technology have been introduced to improve the quality of this collected water.
While traveling by bus to Yaounde one day, I heard a radio announcement that encouraged all Cameroonians to boil their water for at least five minutes before drinking it. This is the same information all Volunteers receive from Peace Corps Medical Administration. In addition, we are told to filter water after boiling it. I know from experience that it can prevent harmful or just plain bothersome diseases such as amoebic dystentery or giardia.
Bottled water is readily accessible throughout the town. But the price (approximately 50 cents) is too expensive for many families for this to become their main source of drinking water. I do not know of families in my area who boil their water before drinking it. Some people say that having been raised on the water immunizes you from the harmful side effects foreigners experience when drinking it.
by Kathleen Reaugh, Batouri, East Province, Cameroon
Contamination washes into the streams and rivers that comprise the main water source, compromising their quality.
by Karen McClish, Belita II, East Province, Cameroon
Our new water pump is great, but I'm nervous that the same problem will occur in Belita that has happened in surrounding villages—that is, that they will take all of their water from that source and let the other sources fall apart and become unusable. The pump will inevitably break and no one here knows how to fix it. Since the European Union built it, the villagers expect them to fix it. Meanwhile, they would have no water. What would they do?
by Madhuri Kasat, Garey, Extreme North Province, Cameroon
Fifteen years ago, a massive government initiative funded the construction of forages (deep, covered pump-wells) throughout Cameroon. My village, Garey, received seven forages, which now, during the hot, dry season, are lined with 50 to 100 buckets as women and children wait for water. There still is a water problem in Garey, but before the forages, it was much more severe.
by Lea Loizos, Bati, West Providence, Cameroon
Overpopulation is becoming a reality in the West Province of Cameroon and the quality of water is directly affected. As the population increases, the problem of land pressure develops. People are forced to cultivate the majority of the land, which often results in deforestation and farming on steep, hilly terrain. This, in turn, causes erosion and agricultural runoff into water sources, as well as a lowering of the water table.
By the same token, more and more people are forced to use the same water source. And one source may be used for all of their daily needs. The spring used as a drinking source for cattle may also be used for laundry and bathing, thereby degrading the quality of water over time.