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Water for all in Cameroon
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Father Ludwik S. is a long standing correspondent of the Forum. He has lived in the North of Cameroon for several years. For him, water is the most basic need for human dignity. He has written a testimonial and has asked secondary-school teacher, Jean-Paul B., to write one also on access to water.

Cameroon's government have completely forgotten this part in terms of water policy. The population in almost all villages did not have access to a drinking water supply system: they used rivers, swamps or mountain sources. For many, they had to travel kilometres to reach these 'natural water supplies' and the water quality was appalling, except at the source.

And you know, here in Africa, when you visit someone, after greeting you, they offer water to drink.  When I saw the colour of the water, I cried.

After seven years of hard battle, often dynamite was used to break rocks; I note for example, this year at the boarding school which has 36 boys, three boys were ill (approximately) at the beginning of the year, one of the three very seriously: he had advanced Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia). These are boys from three villages where the villagers still don't have proper access to drinking water supplies.

Another thing, before, in front of my house, I used to see a whole procession of people (men, women and children) which went from Liwa village every Saturday, making their way towards the Faro River with pots and dirty clothes balanced on their heads, in search of water two kilometres away.

Third thing, I note that more and more water that I am given to wash my hands in, is clean in the different villages. Last year, I don't know by whom or how, but in several villages bore holes were drilled. The villagers prefer wells because there is nothing to repair, however, if the bore hole breaks down, you have to go hundreds of kilometres to find the parts which is even more expensive...


Access to water for all

Two years ago our school suffered a water shortage. So that pupils can drink during break times, they have to travel at least two kilometres between the school and the village in search of water which also remains an expensive commodity in the village.

Some of these pupils would hide and fetch water from the river instead and this continued to cause Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) for every week there would be no less than two to five cases of it.

Thanks to some kind soul, we have had a bore hole drilled, which doesn't always satisfy our pupils and is controversial in the village.  It has to be said that with this bore hole, the problems of illness due to the water has considerably decreased in our school; our pupils no longer have to go to the village in search of water but they fetch it from the bore hole drilled for them instead.

But if the bore hole breaks down it's still a catastrophe all over again because you often have to wait two or three weeks for it to be repaired. In this case, I think to myself that a well could seriously rectify this problem which corrupts our school, the Tchamba secondary school...