Given the approach of dry season which 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 habits to be adopted against cholera. The overall objective is to educate the public on practising 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 heydays during the dry season as 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 drinking 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 responsibility), 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 FCFA 100 and FCFA 500 respectively. Talking to CT, they cited the use of detergents in disinfecting empty bottles bought at FCFA 25 or FCFA 35 each before use.
Other water sources include wells, boreholes and springs. Thus, it becomes predominant for the people to adopt effective treatment for water of doubtful source or quality. The first is by boiling. It entails putting water on fire until it starts boiling for at least 15 minutes and letting it cool before pouring 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.