In October 2012, the Community Agriculture and Environmental Protection Association (CAEPA Cameroon) carried out sensitization to community members in religious houses, religious groups, socio-cultural associations, hospitals and sporting activities. These sensitizations were conducted to educate the communities of Balkumbat, Bali Gashu and Bali Gansinabout the importance of protecting water catchment areas.
These sensitization sessions were supported with 1,500 posters (500 posters per community) distributed within the communities to reinforce group sensitization and provide the public with materials to read and share information about water catchment protection.
The Field Staff team reported approximately 16,500 community members (farmers and grazers) that received these community messages to sustain the interest towards the protection of water catchments. Furthermore, this program created a local community network for water catchment protectors’ and local water governance committees that will continue to press for improvement in the management of different catchments.
In addition to this, a better understanding has been developed on the concept and practice of water catchment protection across the sensitized communities by the field staff and is reflected during interviews carried out during monitoring to evaluate yearly round supply of portable drinking water as well as in other aspects of their community life.
Visiting Balkumbat, Bali Gashu and Bali Gansin
CAEPA Cameroon in collaboration with the Balikumbat council and the traditional councils of Balikumbat, Bali Gashu and Bali Gansin visited the different water catchment sites for demarcation.
In Balkumbat – farmers were carrying out the cultivation of vegetables and tomatoes in the catchment areas since it’s wet all year round. In Bali Gashu – there was acute deforestation for the use of wood for fuel. In Bali Gansin – community members had already planted their crops within the area, resulting in the traditional council of Bali Gansin to put an injunction on the piece of land prohibiting farming and grazing activities.
Creation and Management of Tree Nurseries
In each community, tree nurseries were created with a total of 20,000 trees being transplanted in each catchment area. The traditional rulers of the different communities sent out a town crier with the traditional gung to announce the date for planting trees. The tree planting exercise took place on the 22nd of May in Bali Gansin, 28th of May in Bali Gashu and 1st of June in Balikumbat.
On the 28th of April, a base line scan was carried out in collaboration with CAEPA Cameroon and a GPS Consultant. In the raining season, there was always an abundance of water. However, during the dry season, community members would go for days without drinking water and would have to resort to small wells dug in raffia bushes for drinking water.
In the Balkumbat district Hospital, there were 801 persons who were consulted at the hospital with 50 suffering from water borne diseases during the dry season. This is due to the transhumance by the Mbororo Fulani Pastoralists. In addition to this, other diseases such as typhoid and sleeping sickness were rampant because of the Tse-Tse fly.
- Land ownership
Bali Gangsin and Bali Gashu– Several community members from Bali Gangsin and Bali Gashuclaimed that they cultivated these lands for years and that nobody could evict their activities from this land. The traditional council of Bali Gangsin and Bali Gashu put an injunction in these lands and farming and grazing activities were prohibited.
Balkumbat – In regards to Balikumbat, these challenges were different as the land ownership issues were between the Mayor and the Fon (Chiefan). The Fon wanted community members to exploit these areas as a challenge to the Mayor and to represent that the Fon is the traditional custodian of the land. In response to this, the administration became involved where the sub prefect issued a sub prefectural order banning farming and grazing around catchment areas.
- Grazers intruding in the catchment areas
A minor challenge encountered was that several grazers would cut the fence to let their cows graze within the catchment area. In response to this, a fine was instituted by the Sub Divisional Officer on anybody caught carrying out any activity around the catchments.
In October, a final evaluation of the project was carried out. The three catchments in Balkumbat, Bali Gansin and Bali Gashu were protected and were the main source of portable drinking water within the communities. The construction of the fence, planting of water friendly trees and prohibition of grazing and farming activities created a shade that covered the soil, essentially reducing the evapo-transpiration. The trees planted were water-friendly trees that in the long-term would provide enough shade and help increase the water table thus ensuring an all year round availability of portable drinking water within the communities. The fencing and the prohibition of farming and grazing reduced the amount of chemicals (insecticides and fungicides) as well as animal faeces and urine getting into the streams. With the prohibition of those activities, the water is clean and the community members can now boast of quality drinking water throughout the entire year. Furthermore, the community were able to access this clean water more easily.
This project also assisted in the overall health of the community. In 2011 there were approximately 50 people admitted for water borne diseases at the Balikumbat District Hospital. However, by the end of 2012 this reduced to only 21 people suffering from water borne diseases, 15 admitted for diarrhoea, 10 suffering from dysentery and 6 from Typhoid.
Overall, this project undoubtedly improved the general access to safe and clean drinking water as well as improving the overall community of the health. Although there were land ownership issues, the rule of law and strict local governance of the water catchment areas has enabled communities of Balkumbat, Bali Gansin and Bali Gashu to prosper and improve their long-term future.