Potable water is a scarce commodity in Cameroon. Although the country boasts of many water sources, there is very little to drink by the growing population. Thus, the popular saying that “water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink” holds true here. Available statistics show that water supply in Cameroon, in quantity and quality still remains a thorny issue especially in main metropolis. In Yaounde for instance, the Akomnyada water treatment centre, alongside others, supply the city with 150,000 cubic metres of potable water per day. Added to the Mefou catchment which at full capacity will pump in additional 50,000 cubic metres per day, supply still falls below demand estimated at close to 400,000 cubic metres daily. The situation in Douala is not different where urban boreholes, Japoma and Yato water treatment centres and others are supplying the economic capital with 150,000 cubic metres of water daily. Deficit is about 100,000 cubic metres per day. The situation is same in other parts of the country.
Disturbingly, there is no efficient use of the scarce but precious liquid here. Reports from the country’s economic capital, Douala, speak of unnecessary waste of the commodity. That 39 million cubic metres of potable water was lost to pipe puncture and other wasteful mechanisms in 2014 is vexing when one considers that many go for days, weeks and even months without water to drink. It has been noticed that while taps run dry in some neigbourhoods, others rather witness near flooding with water oozing uncontrollably from the broken pipes.
Authorities of Camerounaise des Eaux blame the phenomenon sometimes on road works during which planted pipes are broken. It is however a common practice in the country that a newly-constructed road is dug up to plant pipes or that newly-planted pipes are destroyed immediately by road developers. Here, town planners are castigated for not being foresighted in developing the roads or planting the pipes. But even in homes, the scenario is no different. In most of the cases, either the pipes are already obsolete or their sizes are unable to contain the volume of water therein.
In either cases, the waste is enormous and unacceptable especially for a country that indebts herself yearly to supply citizens with basic commodities, one of which is potable water. Considering that a cubic metre of water is billed at FCFA 364, the losses incurred from the 39 million cubic metres in 2014, by simple calculation, goes into hundreds of millions. This is money that could have otherwise served to rehabilitate some dying water points or dig boreholes for other thirsty areas. But even beyond that, the uncontrolled flow of the scarce commodity destroys the road network and impoverishes the population some of whom have had to pay bills for the unconsumed liquid. This is so because someone somewhere has to pay for the waste.
One would have thought that the management body of potable water supply in the country Camerounaise des Eaux and Cameroon Water Utility, should have a monitoring system through which broken pipes are detected and an urgent team of technicians put in place to repair the damage. The population is told each time to indicate either by calling 8055 or alerting the nearest agency of Camerounaise des Eaux so that the problem is solved. But the rapidity with which the damages are repaired still remains problematic. A colleague narrated how water flew uncontrollably from a broken pipe in his home for over two weeks even after he had alerted authorities. The bill he paid at the end of the month is immeasurable.
It is unacceptable to waste especially in insufficiency. There is therefore an urgent need to formulate efficient potable water management supply strategies to curb unnecessary wastes else the huge investments in the sector would upon completion be as good as nothing.
Source : Cameroon Tribune