Providing potable drinking water to any given community has always posed problems especially for African countries. This has most often led to an increase in water-borne disease infections. Many African governments like Cameroon, in trying to solve this problem, have elicited the help of foreign water management companies, for example, Camerounaise Des Eaux-CDE.
These companies manage and ensure that potable water is readily made available to its citizens. Diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery, Guinea worm disease have been attributed to the consumption of contaminated water which accounts for about 3.4 million deaths each year.
However, Cameroonians have over the years decried the quality of water supplied by CamWater – the public company in the drinking water sector, to their households for consumption. It was against this backdrop that the Cameroonian government under the supervision of the Ministry of Water and Energy engaged the services of the Moroccan water supply company, Camerounaise Des Eaux in December 2007 with the aim of providing drinking water services to both urban and suburban centers across the country.
Despite the government’s unrestrained efforts to improve the quality of water supplied to the Cameroonian populace, Camerounaise Des Eaux has still not been able to provide its customers with the desired quality since it began operations in the country in 2008.
According to Cameroon Postline, CDE claimed even a joint effort with CamWater and the government could not be able to avail potable drinking water to urban and suburban areas due to a constantly surging population with a growth rate at 4.9%.
Unfortunately, CDE’s contract with the Cameroon government signed on December 2007, terminates this year and the contract was one of the topics of discussion in an in-house meeting chaired by the Head of State Paul Biya on June 5. The contract with the CDE should come to an end on August 31, 2017. Just for the record, the Head of State had in March 2016 instructed the government not to renew the concession contract with Camerounaise Des Eaux for whatever reason known to him alone.
Possible reasons for such a presidential decision rest on the poor quality of water supplied to Cameroonians and the failure of the company to ensure constant water supply in major Cameroonian cities. The failure of CDE to make potable water readily available in a constant supply across major cities in the country could definitely be the raison d’etre for the Head of State’s unwillingness to renew its water contract with the Moroccan company.
In 2013, the town of Buea seemed to have been most hit by this crisis where most neighborhoods had grudgingly survived without water for almost a year, and others practicing water rationing in order to ensure everyone gets at least a bottle of water.
Other cities including Cameroon’s capital city, Yaoundé, Douala, and Bamenda, have as well been touched by such crisis even though the government plans to increase Yaoundé’s water supply to 500,000 cubic meters within two years by tapping into the Sanaga, one of its largest rivers. This move will no doubt, increase potable water supply for the population.
As of 2017, over 663 million people in the world live without safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts that come with using contaminated water.
When faced with such a situation, inhabitants instinctively turn to alternative sources of water including trenches, rivers, springs, rain water (in the rainy season) and perhaps, mineral water which until now, is not affordable for many inhabitants.
As a result, the government will be transferring water management and distribution responsibilities back to the state-run water distribution company, CamWater until the contract termination with CDE is officially closed in August.
Cameroon may never be able to resolve water crisis in the country except the management of water resources is put into the right hands – those who can competently take control and ensure the effective distribution of potable water to the citizens. In this light, if the non-renewal of the CDE contract will restore the most precious liquid on Earth, Cameroonians will have no problem helping pack out Camerounaise Des Eaux.