The Post (Buea)

14 October 2007

Cameroon: Douala Urban Council Meets On Alternative Water Sources

Douala Urban Council and local associations involved in hygiene and sanitation, met on October 3, to seek alternative sources of potable water.

The meeting comes after harrowing experiences of dry pipes and filthy water by Douala inhabitants.Addressing the meeting, the Government Delegate to Douala Urban Council, Dr. Fritz Ntone Ntone, expressed worry that a majority of the estimated 3 million people living in Douala have no access to potable water.

According to the Government Delegate, only some 650,000 people in Douala have access to clean drinking water.He noted that this unfortunate situation is causing a lot of untold hazards to the health of the Douala residents, as most of them are forced to drink filthy water.

Ntone Ntone, former Director of Laquintinie Hospital, also disclosed that about 70 percent of diseases that the people of Douala suffer are water-borne; the most common, being typhoid and diarrhoea.

On their part, participants at the meeting were unanimous that the National Water Corporation, SNEC, has woefully failed over the years to supply Douala with potable water.

They brainstormed on the possibilities of developing or exploiting wells and rain water.

They were, however, reserved as concerns the irresponsible manner in which people dispose of waste, dumping sewage into wells, and contaminating rainwater.

The meeting also examined ways by which Douala Urban Council could collaborate with NGOs to develop alternative sources of potable water in the quarters, especially those areas that do not have SNEC installations.

Bonaberi, The Most Hit

Probably the hardest hit area in Douala, Bonaberi has experienced severe water shortage for several years. Water engineers from SNEC headquarters attribute the inadequate water supply to Bonaberi to River Wouri.

They explained that the lone pipe that conveys water to Bonaberi is attached under the Wouri Bridge. According to them, although the population of Bonaberi has been steadily increasing, the size of the pipe and consequently the quantity of water has remained the same.

The experts warn that if a larger and heavier pipe is attached under the bridge, it would not bear the extra weight and might collapse.Another source of Bonaberi's water trouble is its nearness to River Wouri as well as its topography. Water in most parts of the area is salty, since the river forms a confluence with the sea.

It is thus very expensive to construct a good well in Bonaberi, as it has to be very deep. This notwithstanding, a Chinese company might soon pipe clean water there from River Mungo.

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