Explaining Water Scarcity in Rural Cameroon

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Cameroon is such a fascinating and nuanced nation from the arid far northern plains around Maroua to the coastal city of Douala in the southwest of the nation. It has a rich history. The people celebrate the beautiful and numerous cultures, regional traditions and legacies proudly. Yet, the wonder and magnificence of the central African nation, of more than 27 million people, lies within its vast natural and environmental diversity as well.

Weather Conditions in Cameroon

While the nation has the common struggles of many countries across the world, Cameroon must also contend with extreme seasonal discrepancies, which can affect domestic food stores and has previously and will always affect the people’s supply of potable water. Over time, these droughts trained the people of these regions to survive and thrive within the harsh conditions they face. The larger issue in many of these nations and regions today results from a worsening of these particular historical conditions. These conditions reached a point where they put terrible and tremendous pressure upon humanity in these places and circumstances.

Impoverished communities suffer the burdens of these conditions more than their wealthier counterparts. In figuring out long-term and sustainable solutions regarding the question of water scarcity in Cameroon during the dry season, which spans from roughly December to April or May, positive innovations regarding the plight of the poor across the nation will surely also be stumbled upon in the process.

Water Scarcity in Cameroon

As a 2006 study demonstrated in localized portions of Cameroon, increasing temperature leads to increasing drought. Increasing temperatures also result in increasing food scarcity to accompany the water scarcity. This is about as unfortunate a combination of issues to befall a nation or people as one might be braced for. This situation is far more dangerous for rural communities, which is just less than half of the population, than for those in cities.

As the poverty level in these rural areas is already more extreme by mere location, circumstance and economic functionality, the addition of further volatile and brutal weather tendencies and trends will further hardships. In Cameroon, both hard and soft infrastructure lacks the development necessary to effectively aid the people along the furthest peripheries. Rural communities must largely fend for themselves in the midst of this continuously evolving environment; with 55% of the rural population living in poverty, this is almost impossible.

Likelihood of Future Forced Migrations

While impoverished individuals generally tend to live rural lives based on small-scale, regionally dependent farming or animal husbandry, the dire circumstances that have unfolded in recent years are incapable of sustaining this generational legacy for much longer. These individuals, their children and grandchildren will need to head toward larger cities for any potential recourse for their lives.

While this migration due to climate development tends to naturally occur, historically speaking, the cities provide comfort. However, this comfort might only be temporary. Resources can most easily move to and through major cities, but the density of the people living within these ever-expanding melting pots can consume these resources so rapidly that many might still not get enough as time goes by. This scenario is especially true for Cameroon. Water will still be transported to larger economic and functional locations. However, the growing of food for the nation to eat, especially thanks to the dual threats of internal and external human conflict, alongside the newly vacated and drought-stricken farmlands of the country, would affect many in Cameroon.

Not Too Late to Act

Yet, there is still time to take action before conditions become truly unchangeable. Governments and their various agencies, like the American USAID, alongside global nonprofits like GlobalGiving, The Water Project and others continue in their multitude of attempts to invigorate Cameroonian infrastructure. Additionally, these organizations transport water and other resources to groups in need and areas of the nation as well as aid the country in creating a healthy, egalitarian and sustainable vision for itself while stemming the tide of changing variables across the globe. Numerous studies have stated that, without real change to our stewardship of Earth, the rural communities will be the first communities to be drastically disrupted.

Despite the fight of these people for resources, it will take more than a consistent supply of water to lift these communities from poverty. Innovations of hard and soft infrastructure require investment and maintenance. Additionally, the nation’s constitution must protect the rights of all men, women and children.

The Cameroon government can make improvements in commerce, consumption, production, conservation and positive innovation. Yet, without first fixing the practical blights both nationally and locally, burdens and traumas of increasingly drastic water scarcity in and across Cameroon, none of those aforementioned societal functionalities may be as effective. Worse, they might not even continue to exist as presently known.

Trent R. Nelson
Photo: Flickr

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