Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Cameroon: Cholera - Health Delegate Raises Awareness

The campaign is motivated by increasing sale of water of doubtful quality especially during the dry season.

Given the approach of dry season, which period of the year usually witnesses acute water shortages in most towns, the Littoral Regional Delegate of Public Health Dr. Martin Yamba Beyas has launched a warning campaign on preventive measures against cholera. The overall objective is to educate the public on practicing water purification methods.

This alert comes in the wake of rampant installation of water sales agents in major streets of the economic capital. This lucrative business that runs throughout the year, sees its hey days during the dry season, which time the scorching heat in Douala forces the city dwellers to consume more water than during other periods of the year. Reason therefore to question how and where they purchase potable water.

Apart from tap water supplied by the national water distribution company, CDE; the consumption of bottled or sachet mineral water by well-to-do persons is an alternative. However, due to financial constraints, people who deemed it expensive, resort to yet another supply which is gaining grounds daily.

Austin D. is a water sales agent, based at Njo-Njo Street in the Bonapriso neighbourhood. For about five years now, on Mondays to Saturdays between 8am and 9pm, he spends his time at this crossroad. His daily occupation is fetching drinking water from a nearby tap (freely offered by a brewery enterprise as part of its corporate social responsibilities), in 20-litre jugs.

A few metres away at Koumassi, precisely at Carrefour Prince Bell, two brothers Atangana François and Ndeme Alain earn a living out of this trade. Married with children, they spend all the days of the week on this occupational spot, alongside other persons who have created temporal structures on road pavements. They sell water ready for consumption in bottles ranging from 1,5 to 10 litres, costing CFA 100 and 500 francs respectively. Talking to CT, they cited the use of detergents in disinfecting empty bottles bought at CFA 25 or 35 francs each before use.

Other water sources include wells, boreholes and springs. Thus, it becomes predominant for the masse to adopt effective treatment for water of doubtful source and/or quality. The first is by boiling. It entails putting water on fire until it starts boiling, for at least 15 minutes; let it cool and then pour in a clean container having a lid. The second method is by chlorination. This involves dropping a tea-spoon of chlorine bleach in 10 litres of water; shake properly and wait to settle for at least 30 minutes before consumption.

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