3 February 2013

Cameroon: Wetlands Day Celebration Focuses on Water Management

Commemorative activities last weekend centred on, "Wetlands: Protect our waters wet."

The Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development has urged all Cameroonians to put all hands on deck for the conservation of water for the present and future use. Minister Pierre Hele was speaking in Yaounde on Friday February 1 as he chaired commemorative activities leading up to the 2013 World Wetlands Day observed Saturday February 2 on the theme, "Wetlands: Protect our waters wet."

The biggest challenge Cameroon like other countries face, he said, is the worldwide phenomenon of climate change which is affecting all dimensions of life, including water. "This means that as we are struggling to conserve, climate change comes in to reduce the volumes of water that we have around the world. Wetlands in Cameroon serve the same purpose that they serve around the world given the geographical situation of our country-extreme dryness in the north and extreme wetness in the south," the Minister said.

Like him, the Secretary General at the Ministry, Akwa Patrick Kum Bong, said there is need to harmonise dryness and wetness to make water adequately available where it is dry and where it is wet. "We are struggling to tackle this challenge in a number of ways. Belonging to the Ramsar Convention helps us to sensitise people on the need to preserve the bit of water that we have especially in the wetlands. In the ministry, we have a project for the eradication of water hyacinth not only to make the water ways navigable but also accessible for fishermen and for farmers. In the north, we have a Green Sahel Project for the planting of trees which is a good step in managing water. It seeks to stop the desert from advancing but also to retain some water in the soil by covering the surface. The challenges are there, the initiatives are also there unfortunately we don't have the means to go as we would have wanted," he said.

According to the Focal Point of the Ramsar Convention in Cameroon, Serge Ondoua, water is a determinant factor in the country's fragile ecosystem and must be constantly protected for posterity. In song, drama and artwork exhibition by students of schools around Yaounde who thronged the Conference Centre for the event, demonstrated the need for local councils to integrate water management in their communal plans if the ravaging effects of climate change must be cushioned for the wellbeing of the population and the environment.

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