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Assessing

water
resources
pollution
and
solutions
for its
mitigation
and
sustainable
water
developme
nt in the
Republic of
Cameroon

Analysis of the
current situation
and mitigation
strategies for
sustainable
water
management

Celestin Defo
Contents
LISTE OF ABBREVIATIONS.......................................................................................................3
LIST OF TABLES AN FIGURES..................................................................................................3
LISTE OF ANNEXES....................................................................................................................3
I-INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................................4
II- GENERAL PRESENTATION OF CAMEROON.....................................................................4
II-1 Setting of the scene..............................................................................................................4
II-2 Climate change and variability.............................................................................................5
III-WATER RESOURCES PROFILE IN CAMEROUN................................................................5
III-1 State of the resource............................................................................................................5
III-2 State of water use availability and withdrawal...................................................................6
IV- WATER RESSOURCES POLLUTION....................................................................................7
IV.1 Indicators of water pollution in Cameroon..........................................................................7
IV.2. Sources of pollution............................................................................................................9
IV-3 Kinds of Water Pollution in Cameroon.............................................................................11
IV-3.1 Surface water pollution in Cameroon.........................................................................11
IV-3.2 Groundwater pollution in Cameroon........................................................................16
IV. 3.3 Synthesis and limits of the research on the water pollution in Cameroon................20
V. POLICY FRAMEWORK AND DECISION-MAKING.........................................................20
VI. MAIN CONSTRAINTS.........................................................................................................21
VII. MAIN CHALLENGES.........................................................................................................22
VII.1 Poor water services, rural-urban disparities:...................................................................22
VII.2 Decreasing biodiversity, wetland degradation:................................................................23
VIII- CONCLUSIONS..................................................................................................................23
IX BIBLIOGRAPHY....................................................................................................................24
X. ANNEXES......17

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LISTE OF ABBREVIATIONS

CFU : Colony Forming Unit


CVL: Cameroon Volcanic Line
FC : Faecal Coliform
FS : Fecal Streptococci
GDP : Gros Domestic Product
IARI: Indian Agricultural Research Institute
IWRM: Itegrated Water Resources Management
MDG: Millenium Development Goals
SD : Standard Deviation
TC : Total Coliform
WHO : Word Health Organization

LIST OF TABLES AN FIGURES

List of Tabl
1.
Table 1: Concentration of Pb, Cd, Cr and Ni in the groundwater of the Ntem watershed..............9
Table 2 : Distribution of drinking-water sources in Yaound according to microbiological
assessment 14

List of Figure
2.
Figure 1 : Presentation of Cameroun
Figure 2: View of point-source and Non-point source of water pollution (Mannoj, 2013)
Figure 3: Point-sources pollution. Discharge of wastewaster from General Hospital in Yaounde
Cameroon..
Figure 4: Non Point-source pollution. Flood in the Ntem watershed Yaound Cameroon..
Figure 5: Water supply by spring in Yaound city, Cameroon.
Figure 6: Overall mean ( standard error) of indicator bacteria...

LISTE OF ANNEXES

Annexe 1: Faecal streptococci content in the groundwater in the city of Bafoussam,


Cameroon......................................................................................................................18
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Annexe 2: A stream polluted by plastic waste in Yaounde, Cameroon........................................18

I-INTRODUCTION

Since the industrial revolution of the 19th century, water pollution has been the subject of several
research works around the world, in Africa and in Cameroon. These studies were related to
hydrology, biology, hydrogeology, biochemistry, sociology and development, water science etc.
(Mpakam, 2008). These works revealed various types of pollution, their sources and their effects
on human health and environment, and necessary solutions for water resources protection.
Universal access to safe water and sanitation remain elusive in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cameroon is
well-watered, with uneven distribution of rainfall from one part of the country to another. The
country boasts major underground water resources spread over the countrys main water-bearing
areas. In all, the country has at least 120 billion m 3 volum of estimated groundwater resources
and about 267.88 km3 of surface water (GWP/AC, 2010). Despite the huge quantity of fresh
water available, safe drinking water supply is still limited. Its estimated that 65% of population
in rural area and 77% of urban population have access to safe drinking water (CSO2, 2011).
The aim of this article is to identify the water pollution status in Cameroon, its effects on the
human being, and environment presented in the following sections: the general presentation of
Cameroon, status of water pollution in the country, institutions in charge and legal framework,
the main constraints, conclusion and recommendations.

II- GENERAL PRESENTATION OF CAMEROON

II-1 Setting of the scene


Cameroon is a country situated between West and Central Africa at the extreme north-
eastern end of the Gulf of Guinea. It is bordered by Chad in the north-east, the Central African
Republic on the east, the Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea on the south, and Nigeria on the
west. It has about 400 km of Atlantic coastline in the southwest, and shares Lake Chad with
Chad in the north (Figure 1). The countrys total surface area is about 475 650 km 2, and the
estimated population is 18 million (GWP/AC, 2010), with more than half under age 25. The
urban and rural populations are about the same size, although urbanization is increasing by 4.7%
per year, on average. The countrys 1200 km length, proximity to the sea and topography give it
a varied climate with wide differences in rainfall and vegetation. The maximum rainfall of
10.000 mm occurs in the equatorial climate zone in the south, and the minimum of 500 mm in
the extreme north on the edge of the Sahara. The average annual rainfall is about 1.684 mm. The
average annual temperature is 240C in Yaound, in the equatorial climate and 280C in Maroua, in

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the sahelian climate (north and extreme north) (Molua and Lambi, 2002).

Figure 1 : Presentation of Cameroun (Aquastat, 2007)


II-2 Climate change and variability
Average rainfall has been declining since the 1950s. In the last three decades it has
decreased by about 5%. Reduced flow rates have been more pronounced in areas with a Sahelian
climate, where reductions ranging from 15% to 25% have been recorded. These changes have
led to increased desertification in the north and a falling water table due to reduced recharge. In
addition, previously permanent wells are drying up late in the dry season. Equally, uncontroled
deforestation in the southern region during the last decades have affected significantly the season
variation and the rainfall (Aquastat, 2007).

III-WATER RESOURCES PROFILE IN CAMEROUN

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III-1 State of the resource
Cameroon has a dense network of rivers, most of which arise on the central Adamawa
plateau and flow north or south. These provide it with abundant water resources in relation to
current demand. The six main basins are Sanaga, Sanaga West, Sanaga South, Benoue, Congo
and Lake Chad. The Sanaga basin, located in the centre of the country, is the largest, covering
about 29% of the territory. It and the Sanaga West and South basins constitute the Atlantic basin.
Cameroons total annual renewable water resources amount to some 283.5 billion m3 or about
17000 m3 per capita, using 2006 population (20 million inhabitants) estimates (GWP/AC,
2010). The groundwater resources is estimated at 100 billion to 120 billion m 3. In Cameroon, the
amount of surface water volume is about 267.88 km3 : 32.52 km3 for the Lake Chad basin;
43.91 km3 for the Niger basin. 63.18 km 3 for the Sanaga basin. 33.45 km 3 for the Congo and
94.82 km3 for the coastal rivers while groundwater distribution in different river basin is
estimated in Table 1 as function of geological context of each region.
Table 1: Estimation of groundwater amount in major saturated watershed in Cameroon
Aquifers Water Volume Percentage Volume with
(km3) report to the total volume
Lake Chad Sedimentary Basin 3.2 5.72

Benue Sedimentary Basin 15.75 28.14

Douala Sedimentary Basin 21.6 38.64

Bedrock areas 15.40 27.51


Total 55.98 100
Source: GWP/AC, 2010
Due to the lack of comprehensive monitoring of water resources, consumption patterns
are not known exactly. However it is estimated that about 1 billion m 3 of the total renewable
water resources is withdrawn annually. Of this, roughly 2.96 % is used in domestic activities,
0.88 % for livestock, 7.25% for irrigation and less than 1% for industries and mines, while
88.74% are used for hydropower.

III-2 State of water use availability and withdrawal


Table 2 presents different water uses in Cameroon.
Table 2: Different water uses in Cameroon distributed in river basins
Water use Lake Niger Sanaga Congo Other coastal Total %
Chad rivers Cameroun
(10-3 km3)
Domestic 55.07 65.9 101.6 14.9 88.8 326.27 2.96

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Livestock 84.01 13.4 / / 97.41 0.88
Irrigation 328.95 377.08 / / 91.79 797.82 7.25
Hydro-power / 7600 2169 / 9769 88.74
Industries / 0.33 8.16 0.06 6.62 15.17 0.138
Mines / / / 2.9 2.9 0.026
Total (10-3 468.03 8056.71 2278.76 17.86 187.21 11008.57 100
km3)
GWP/AC, 2010

Agriculture is the backbone of Cameroons economy, accounting for about 41% of GDP
and 55% of the workforce (UNESCO, 2011). At about 69.750 km2 arable land representing
15% of the overall surface area, about 29% of the arable land is cultivated, mostly in the west
and south-west. The fraction of the population working in agriculture has been decreasing since
the 1970s, but as productivity has increased over the same period, food security has not been
directly affected. Irrigation has contributed substantially to productivity, making cultivation
possible during the dry season. In the year 2000, irrigated area of about 224.5 km 2 (UNESCO,
2011).
Table 3: Freshwater availability and withdrawal in Cameroon
Water Availability Withdrawals
Average precipitation in 1604 Total freshwater withdrawal (surface 0.9
depth (mm/yr) 2000 water + groundwater) (109 m3/yr)
Total renewable water 285.5 Total water withdrawal per capita 59.6
(actual) (109 m3/yr) 2002 59.6 (m3/inhab/yr)
Total renewable per capita 14 957
(actual) (m3/inhab/yr)
Surface water: total 280.5 Freshwater withdrawal as % of total 0.3
renewable (actual) (109 2002
m3/yr) Renewable water resources (actual)
(%)
Source: http://na.unep.net
Table 2 pointed that in 2002, the amount of freshwater renewable was 285.5 109 m3/year while
the freshwater withdrawal as percentage of total is 0.3 %. This indicates that the country is
enriched with huge quantity of water resources in contrast to the present water paucity
widespread in urban and rural areas.

IV- WATER RESSOURCES POLLUTION

IV.1 Indicators of water pollution in Cameroon


Many cases of water-borne diseases such as typhoid. cholera and amoebic dysentery are
recurrent in most of the urban cities in Cameroon (Nguendo, 2010)
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Hydric diseases: intestinal helminthiases touched more than 10 million Cameroonians between
2003 and 2006;
These diseases associated to water and sanitation system;
Between 1984 1993 for example. 8000 cases of cholera. 11500 cases of typhoid. 46400 of
dysentery were recorded.
Intestinal worms infected over 10 million Cameroonians between the year 2003 and 2006 with
about 70 % of the household expenditures on health between the period 2003 and 2006 were
spent on water-related diseases.
Moreover, there is implication of the application of pesticides on water pollution in Cameroon.
Some indications are stated as follows:

Increasing numbers of dams to solve the acute energy shortages may increase mosquitoes
and black flies.

The current method used by the Electricity Development Corporation : larviciding in the
rivers upstream to the dams.

If approximately USD 2 million is pumped into the project in the next three years,

tons of insecticides will be poured into Cameroonian waters before the runoff from
agricultural activities.

This will be an unnecessary evil and serious environmental problem if not checked (Tarla
et al., 2014)

Besides, the country is moving to the second generation agriculture in which large
surface area will be cultivated using tractors, fertilizers

Therefore, pesticides 31 million FCFA (about USD 64 000) was given to farming
associations (Bambe, 2010).

The plantations, which produce cocoa and coffee from high quality, occupy 300,000 and
100,000 hectares respectively and the total quantity of pesticides used is approximately
100,000 liter/ha.

Among these plantations: PHP Banana plantain, Djombe Penja Bana plantain, Group
Delmonthe and many other industrial farms in the country.

According to several authors, any chemical, biological and physical change in water
quality that has a harmful effect on living organisms or makes it unusable for agriculture is water
pollution.
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The massive quantity of pollutants produced by > 6 billion humans, their machines,
plants, animals
The limited supply of fresh liquid water into which most water-destined pollutants are
discharged
The growing number of technological pollutants released into the environment, i.e.
manufactured synthetic materials.
In Cameroon, available information on the amount of pollution reaching surface and
groundwater resources, or on the severity of the problem are relatively insufficient. Some studies
have indicated that most industrial facilities discharge waste into the environment with little or
no treatment. Another authors have demonstrated that urban waste as faecal sludge and waste
water from households, hospitals and municiplatities are sources of pollution of water resources.
Equally, wastewaters from agriculture have been also mentioned by some studies as sources of
pollution of water.

IV.2. Sources of pollution


In Cameroon, there are several sources of water pollution generally described in water
science (Figure 1). Amount them, we can quote: point sources (e.g., factories, sewage treatment
plants, mines, oil wells, oil tankers), non-point sources (e.g., acid deposition, substances picked
up in runoff, seepage into groundwater) and agriculture.

NONPOINT SOURCES

Rural homes

Urban streets Cropland


Animal feedlot

Subu POI Factory


rban Wast NT
develewateSOU
opmer RCE
nt treat S
ment
plant

Figure 1: View of point-source and Non-point source of water pollution

A point source pollution is a specific source of pollution that can be identified (pipe gushing
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colored water into a river), while a widely spread source of pollution that cant be tied to a
specific point of origin is called nonpoint source pollution (runoff from a farm field, a street, or a
construction site.. In Cameroon, there are many sources which could be associated to water
pollution: (i) wastewaters from laboratories of the two main hospitals (Gyneco-opcetrical and
General Hospitals) of the Yaound city are discharged in the environment without treatment for
many years (Figure 2). (ii) The management of urban rainwater is difficult in the Yaounde due to
the urbanistic problems: a massive population growth, an anarchic housing, lack of sewer and
urbanistic equipments which are the cause of the accumulation of pollutants in the city. (iii) The
washing of the urban surfaces by the runoff (roof and public road network) (Figure 3), transport
of pollutants of wastes from garages and other repair shops (old batteries and old air
conditioners) by the rainwater, proliferation of the solid wastes dumpsites, air pollution
(incineration of urban wastes) and motor exhaustion, iv)industrial wastewater, V) improper solid
waste dumpsites, etc. (Bemmo et al., 1998, Mpakam, 2008, Kouam Kenmogne et al., 2013, Defo
et al., 2015).

Figure 2: Point-sources pollution. Discharge of wastewaster from General Hospital in Yaounde


Cameroon (Defo, field work, Yaound, August 2011, 16 h 30).
Effluents generated by the hospitable activities presents a potential danger for human being and
the environment considering the nature and the importance of specific substances which they
contain (medicinal residues, chemicals, antiseptic, detergent, fixative sprays used in
radiography).

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Figure 3: Non Point-source pollution. Flood in the Ntem watershed Yaound Cameroon (Defo,
field work, Yaounde, August 2011, 17 h 30).
IV-3 Kinds of Water Pollution in Cameroon
There are many kinds of water pollution those are : inorganic pollutants, organic
pollutants and biologic pollutants. These pollutants are released by their sources into natural or
artificial water reservoirs. This fact leads to the pollution of streams, lakes, ocean pollution,
groundwater pollution, drinking water pollution. Several research works have been focused on
water pollution in Cameroon. We reviewed the pollution status of surface water and
groundwater.

IV-3.1 Surface water pollution in Cameroon


Table 4 presents the water quality collected from some rivers in Cameroon, which
physico-chemical parameters are greater than the MPL (Maximum Permissible Limits). Baok
(2007), Jessie et al (2014), Kouam Kenmogne et al (2013), Djuikom et al. (2009), Ajeagah
(2013) and Sieliechi et al. (2013) showed in their studies the pollution of different rivers in
Cameroon by organic pollutants and nutrients from anthropogenic sources.
There are three classes of compounds those are pesticides and herbicides, materials for
common household, materials for industrial use. In Cameroon, there are many agro industrial
companies and farmers who use these chemicals for the production of banana plantain, robber,
the, coffee, cocoa It is obvious that, with the lack of monitoring in the environmental
framework, water resources could be pollution by the uncontrolled rate of application of the
chemicals in the farms and many streams in their surrounding are visibly undergoing a process
of deterioration.

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Table 4: Water quality of some rivers in Cameroon. Overview of some physic chemical parameters

Rivers TDS BOD5 COD(mg/l) EC N H3 NH4 NO3 PO3 pH Authors


(mg/l) (mg/l) (S/cm) (mg/l) (mg/l) (mg/l) (mg/l)
Ngoua 587.8 187 421 420 9.33 10.22 14.35 0.74 7.8 Baok, 2007

15EPA-PAHs-Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): 4 to 5 rings (140.42 g/g to 229.47 g/g) Jessie et al (2014)

Abiergue / 360 601 / / 37.2 70.4 / 7.2 Kouam Kenmogne


et al (2013)

Olezoa 270 308 406 1292 / / / / 7.2

Mfoundi 297.5 500.25 / / / / / 7.8 Djuikom et al.


(2009)
Monatele 70.3 110.0 205.0 303 / / / / 7.04 Ajeagah (2013)

Obala 151.9 106.5 200.0 140 / / / / 7.28 Ajeagah (2013)

Dang / / / 517.83 / 1.54 4.4 2.02 / Sieliechi et al.


(2013)
MPL 2100 30 250 / / / 10 / 9.0

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Fonkou et al. (2005) have shown that the concentrations of cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu),
zinc (Zn) and lead (Pb) in water, sediments, fish organs and plants from two ponds of the Olezoa
wetland complex were analyzed. Plants investigated were Cyperus papyrus, Enydra fluctuans,
Ipomoea aquatica and Echinocloa pyramidalis. The fish species studied was the walking catfish
Clarias lazera and the heavy metal concentrations were measured in the digestive tract, gills,
flesh and liver. Average concentrations in water were 6 x 10 -2 ppm for Cd, 14.53 ppm for Cu,
2.88 ppm for Zn and 17.69 ppm for Pb. These values were low compared to those recorded in
the sediments, plants and fish organs. Results revealed an increase of heavy metal concentrations
from water to plants and fish organs, with magnification factors ranging from 580 to 5700 and
from 577 to 8173, respectively. In the sediments and the floating mat of the eutrophic fish ponds,
these factors ranged from 491 to 1065 and 624 to 758, respectively. The four plants studied
appeared to be good candidates for phytoremediation of water metal pollution. The quantity of
heavy metals in this wetland complex is considerable and will constitute a potential hazard for
biota.
Concerning faecal pollutants, this type of pollution is the most studied in Cameroon,
especially in urban areas where the water supply and sanitation constitute major difficulties of
the municipalities. Many studies have reported the pollution of surface water, groundwater and
lakes by these contaminants.

Njine et al. (2002) investigated the deteriorating bacteriological water quality of


Municipal Lake of Yaound, the degree of pollution of the Mingoa Stream. The main tributary of
the lake, was evaluated for total coliforms, thermotolerant coliforms, and fecal streptococci.
Concentrations of these bacterial indicators in Mingoa Stream were higher than those allowed by
international norms for the bacteriological quality of recreational water. They concluded that this
stream contributes to the high levels of bacteria number in the water column of the Municipal
Lake.
All the investigations cited above are in agreement with those of many authors like
Bemmo et al. (1998) concerning the impact of surface and groundwater pollution by bacteries and
virus in urban equatorial area on drinking water supply systems in Cameroon (Table 5).

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Table 5 : Distribution of drinking-water sources in Yaound according to microbiological
assessment (Nguendo, 2010)
Quality Sources of drinking-water

Boreholes Springs Households (sored Community Wells


waters) standpipes
Frequency % Frequency % Frequency % Frequency % Frequency %
Safe 0 0.0 0.0 0 10 3.3 15 55.6 25 4.9
Contaminate 154 100 25 10 292 96.7 12 44.4 483 95.1
d 0
Total 154 100 25 10 302 100 27 100 508 100
0
In the north of Cameroon, Mawor et al (2013) have evaluated the bacteriological and
physicochemical characteristics (temperature, pH, salinity, conductivity, turbidity, suspended
matter, organic matter, phosphates, sulphates, nitrates, chloride, calcium, magnesium, iron and
nitrogen) of water and sediment collected in four fisheries. All the analysed parameters were the
highest, except for chlorides. Total mesophile aerobic flora varied between 1.40.50105 in
Tibati and 5.570.50106 CFU/mL in Lagdo. Salmonella concentration was comprised between
66.661.62 in Tibati and 2743.16 CFU/mL in Yagoua. There was about 100.50 CFU/mL
Vibrio in Lagdo and 342.275.53 CFU/mL in Maga. Staphylococcus concentration was between
1.40.55103 CFU/mL in Tibati and 4.440.9104 in Maga. Clostridia were comprised
between 0.330.00 in Tibati and 226.664.29 CFU/mL in Maga while Pseudomonas
concentration was comprise between 16.260.70 in Tibati and 326.666.00 CFU/mL in Lagdo.
Faecal Streptococcus varied between 0.330.00 in Tibati and 238.668.15 CFU/mL in Yagoua.
The total mesophile aerobic flora was significantly high (P<0,005) in Lagdo while Clostridium,
faecal streptococcus, and Streptococcus concentration were significantly high in Maga, Yagoua
and Lagdo. Lakes sediments in Maga were the most infected. The different analysis revealed
that the fisheries were relatively polluted. Some of the bacteria counted like Pseudomonas and
Vibrio might be pathogenic for fishes.
Table 6 presented the amount of faecal coliform and total coliforms found in some rivers
in Cameroon.

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Table 6: Faecal pollutants occurrence in some rivers in Cameroon

Rivers FC (UFC/100ml) FS (UFC/100ml) TC (UFC/100ml) Authors


Ngoua 30 90 / Baok (2007)
Abiergue 18200 8800 / Kouam Kenmogne (2013)
Mingoa 3.1 107 2.3 107 2.7 1010 Jugnia and Sim-Ngando (2001)
M. Lake Yde 6160 387 / Demanou and Brummet (2003)
Melen Lake 11000 3300 / Demanou and Brummet (2003)
Mfoundi Mean SD=6.8 105 2.4 103 Mean SD=7.3 105 2.1 103 (Mean SD=5.6 108 2.5 106 Djuikom et al.(2006), Kuitcha et
CFU/100 ml CFU/100 ml CFU/100 ml)
al. (2010)

Douala Lagoon 2.4 102 2.3102 2.4 102 Ajeagah (2013)

Monatele 684 52.75 67.3 Ajeagah (2013)


MPL(Who) 2000 10000

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IV-3.2 Groundwater pollution in Cameroon

Water from the polluted wetlands is still used by the riverside populations for urban
agriculture and domestic purposes (Figure 4), and the contaminated fish is regularly caught for
consumption. Such activities should be banned in this area.

Figure 4: Water supply by spring in Yaound city, Cameroon (Defo, field work 2001, 16h 30).

Water containing high concentrations of nitrate is unfit for human consumption and, if
discharging to freshwater or marine habitats, can contribute to algal blooms and eutrophication.
The level of nitrate contamination in groundwater of two densely populated, agro industrial areas
of the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL) (Banana Plain and Mount Cameroon area) was evaluated
by (Ako et al., 2011). A total of 100 samples from boreholes, open wells and springs (67 from
the Banana Plain; 33 from springs only, in the Mount Cameroon area) were collected and
analyzed for chemical constituents, including nitrates. The average groundwater nitrate
concentrations for the studied areas are: 17.28 mg/l for the Banana Plain and 2.90 mg/l for the
Mount Cameroon area. Overall, groundwaters were relatively free from excessive nitrate
contamination, with nitrate concentrations in only 6 % of groundwater resources in the Banana
Plain exceeding the maximum admissible concentration for drinking water (50 mg/l). Sources of
NO3- in groundwater of this region was attributed by the authors to the anthropogenic (N-
fertilizers, sewerage, animal waste, organic manure, pit latrines, etc.). Multivariate statistical
analyses of the hydrochemical data revealed that three factors were responsible for the
groundwater chemistry (especially, degree of nitrate contamination): (1) a geogenic factor; (2)

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nitrate contamination factor; (3) ionic enrichment factor. The impact of anthropogenic activities,
especially groundwater nitrate contamination, was more accentuated in the Banana Plain than in
the Mount Cameroon area.
Various authors have studied the issue of nitrate contamination of groundwater resources
in Cameroon, especially in the north of Cameroon (Njitchoua and Ngounou, 1997; Ngounou and
Ndjoret, 2010), which is the main agro-pastoral zone of Cameroon. Ako et al. (2011) also
reported about nitrate contamination of groundwater and surface water resources in the Banana
Plain. Ako et al. (2011) had studied of water sources around Mount Cameroon of weathered
volcanic and sedimentary rocks like the Banana Plain and showed that these waters did contain
trace elements and a dominance of Na+ and K+ as major cations closely associated with nitrates.
Currently, there is a lack of information and understanding of NO 3- input and its effect on
the quality of groundwater resources and ecosystem health within these densely populated, agro-
industrial areas of the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL). Therefore, it is essential to conduct
detailed assessments of the degree of nitrate contamination of their groundwater resources. The
objective of this research was to apply hydrochemistry and principal component/factor analysis
for the identification of factors responsible for nitrate contamination of groundwater in the
Banana Plain and Mount Cameroon area, two important areas of the Cameroon Volcanic Line.

Some research works have revealed the pollution of water resources by heavy metals
such as Pb, Cd, Cr and Ni in the urban city of Yaound Cameroon, in the Ntem watershed (Defo
et al., 2015). The source of this inorganic pollution was associated to a point source as
wastewaters from hospitals, repair shops and hostel which are discharged in the nature without
treatment, exhaustion from petrol combustion of autos, washing of urban areas, run off and
incineration of solid waste in the town.

Nguendo (2010) have analysed the water quality from wells and population susceptibility
to cholera outbreaks with respect to income levels in some neighbourhoods of the city of Douala
Cameroon. The results showed that, the presence of bacterial agents like vibrio cholerea, sucrose
fermenting and non sucrose fermenting organisms in well water poses great health threats in the
study area.
Equally, Djuikom et al. (2009) analysed total coliform (TC), fecal coliform (FC) and
fecal streptococci (FS), the microbiological water quality of the Mfoundi River and four of its
representative tributaries at Yaound, Cameroon. There results revealed that waters were not safe
for human use or primary contact according to the standards for water quality established by the
Word Health Organization (WHO). Indeed, these waters exhibited high concentrations of TC
(Mean SD = 5.6 108 2.5 106 CFU/100 ml), FC (Mean SD = 6.8 105 2.4 103
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CFU/100 ml) and FS (Mean SD = 7.3 105 2.1 103 CFU/100 ml) that varied with the
sampling sites and points. FC/FS ratio suggested that this contamination was more from warm-
blooded animals than humans and correlation analysis points to the role of rainfall as a
contributing factor, which enhanced the bacterial numbers detected. They concluded that there is
a great potential risk of infection for users.

Table 7 presents the different kinds of pollutants found in shallow and deep aquifer in
several sites in Cameroon.

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Aquifer Region Type of pollutant/Range Source
Shallow Southwest As (III): 0.2 mg/l Agriculture
plantation). Lobe Sed
Deep (Ekondo Titi) 2mg/l
N-fertilizers
(CVL) NO3: 2.9- 17.28 <50 mg/l (WHO)
Plantation). animal wa
Shallow NorthWest (Ndop) TC: 1.100 CFU/100ml Cattle graz
latrines
pH: 5.89;
Shallow North TC: 8.19*E9 CFU/100ml Pit latrine
(Garoua) rubbish dumps. open
FC: 38 E3 CFU/100ml
E.Coli: 5.8E1 CFU/100ml
FS: 3.8E1 CFU/100ml
Well Littoral Heterotrphic bacteria: 2.5 E3 CFU/100ml; High
density; pit latrines
TC: 1.4E3-44E3 CFU/100ml
tanks. poor drainage s
FC: 6.03E3-29E5 CFU/100ml
Shallow Centre (Yaound) Pb: 0.33 Cd: 0.08 Cr:1.31 Auto exhaus
Ni:0.61 in mg/l wastes dumpsites.
agriculture.
CF: 270-37E4 CFU/100ml;
Pit latrine
FC: 5 -35 E2 CFU/100ml;
drains. sceptic tanks
FS: 5-9.6E3 CFU/100ml
NH4 : 11.02 mg/l> 0.5 ppm (WHO)
Well West (Bafoussam) NO3: 220.9 mg/l; NH4: 0.7mg/l Poor sanitation
Agriculture
FC: 30-5000 CFU/100ml
TC: 10 000 CFU/100ml
Table 7: Overview of different pollutants found in groundwater in Cameroon

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IV. 3.3 Synthesis and limits of the research on the water
pollution in Cameroon
Water resources are wide in Cameroun. These resources are polluted by various substances
issued in the environment naturally or by human activities. The pollutants are inorganic, organic or
bacteriological. Many authors in Cameroon have focus their research works on bacteriological
pollution of water resources in urban area. Data are still inexistent for the pollution status of many
rivers, lakes and aquifers in the country. These observations are consistent to those of (Dejoux,
1988) from theirs research works on water pollution in Africa, they have shown that
documentations available relating to various ecological problems and tropical marine ecosystems
are scare or inexistent on a worldwide scale. These works reveal that information on water
pollution regarding Africa are scare and dispersed. As such, more precise and concrete studies in
various compartments of the aquatic environment of Cameroon are necessary. Due to the absence
of an effective monitoring system, data on industrial effluent emissions are patchy, and the
extent of water pollution in Cameroon is not fully known.

V. POLICY FRAMEWORK AND DECISION-MAKING

Water is considered to be public property in Cameroon, and thus water protection and
management are government responsibilities. Several institutions are involved in water
management. Under the 1998 Water Law, the National Water Committee coordinates their
actions. The committee is also responsible for: (i) proposing actions to the government, (ii) to
assure the conservation, (iii) protection and sustainable use of water resources; (iv) providing
advice on water-related problems and making recommendations on rational water management,
particularly concerning the development and implementation of sustainable water and sanitation
projects. Chaired by the minister in charge of water resources, the National Water Committee
includes high-level representatives of major stakeholders involved in water management in
Cameroon, including the ministries in charge of finance, public health, environment, land
management, urban development and housing, agriculture, livestock and fisheries, commerce
and industry, territorial administration and meteorology, as well as associations of mayors and
concessionaires of public water and energy services. The National Water Committee was formed
by decree in 1985 as a consultative body to coordinate activities in the water sector. It has met
only infrequently and never fulfilled its intended role. Recently signed enabling decrees under
the 1998 Water Law, however, could give the committee new impetus and allow it to function
more effectively (GWP/AC, 2010). Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is accepted
in Cameroon as the starting point for policies that can enhance sustainable water resources
20
management and development, and assure water security. However, conditions for effective use
of the IWRM approach are not yet in place. Not only does Cameroon lack comprehensive
information on water resources, but the distribution of water management authority is highly
fragmented, and sectoral management approaches predominate. Moreover, the political will and
commitment to enforce existing laws and regulations is inadequate, as are human and
institutional capacity and investment for assessment and monitoring.
Nevertheless, measures to improve water security have been carried out or are under way,
including (GWP/AC, 2010):
public-private partnerships for electricity and urban water supply;
an IWRM plan, expected by the end of 2009;
transfer of some water management responsibilities to local levels following
implementation of a law on decentralization.

VI. MAIN CONSTRAINTS

Major constraints are pointed for influencing the known difficulties recorded in water
development projects in Cameroon, namely:
Poor management and development of the resources coupled with inadequate political
will and commitment for the long term.
The patchiness of information available on the quality and quantity of water resources is
a major constraint for successful water resources management and a handicap for poverty
alleviation efforts;
The enabling environment for application of the IWRM approach (Integrated Water
Resources Management) is weak (Policy Development. planning new undertaking.
Budgeting), as are legal and institutional frameworks (UNESCO/WHO/JMP, 2010).
Besides, UNESCO/WHO/JMP (2010) showed that the capacity of the government of
Cameroon for developing the service (expenditure of funds; equity in the use of funds;
service output), sustaining (facility of maintenance; expansion of infrastructures; use of
the services) is very low in comparison to many other countries.

VII. MAIN CHALLENGES

VII.1 Poor water services, rural-urban disparities:


While Cameroon is not yet on track to meet the targets of the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation, it has made notable progress since 1990. In 2006, 70%
21
of the population had access to safe drinking water. The coverage in urban centres is 88%,
significantly better than the 47% in rural areas (GWP/AC, 2010). Of Cameroons 300 urban
centres with 5,000 inhabitants or more, however, only 98 have water supply networks.
Moreover, rapid urbanization in smaller towns has often rendered existing infrastructure
inadequate, with frequent service interruptions. Many peri-urban dwellers also lack access to
safe drinking water. Another problem is the amount of water unaccounted for: the average rate of
loss rose from 25% in 1990 to 40% in 2000, clearly indicating an aging network and poor
maintenance. Hence, in reality, the supply situation is worse than the figures imply. Sanitation
coverage is also poor. In urban areas only 58% of the population has access to improved
sanitation facilities, and the rate in rural areas is 42% (Aquastat, 2007; UNESCO/WHO/JMP,
2010). Studies from different parts of the country indicate that many water resources used for
household consumption are polluted to varying degrees because waste disposal infrastructure is
insufficient in urban areas, and the capacity to enforce existing laws is very weak. Especially
affected are areas where latrines and septic tanks, for example, are located near springs and
shallow wells used without treatment for household water supply (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Distribution of diarrhea associated from wells and spring water in Yaounde
Cameroun (Nguendo, 2010).
There is little information on the amount of pollution reaching surface and groundwater
resources, or on the severity of the problem. Some studies have indicated that most industrial
facilities discharge waste into the environment with little or no treatment. The companies know
they are polluting, but because monitoring and enforcement are inadequate, it lacks any
incentive to invest in wastewater treatment. Water-related disease is quite common in Cameroon

22
and particularly affects children (OMS, 2004). The main causes of death in children under 5 are
diarrhoea, malaria and measles. Among children under 4 years old, diarrhea accounts for about
10% of all deaths. Malaria affects about 46% of the population. Health expenditure in Cameroon
for 2001/2002 amounted to around US$110 million, which corresponded to 4.5% of the national
budget and about 1% of GDP (GWP/AC, 2010).

VII.2 Decreasing biodiversity, wetland degradation:


Cameroon has a wide variety of natural resources, including its forests, which occupy
about 50% of the countrys surface area. With its climatic and ecological variety, Cameroon is
rich in terms of biodiversity. However, an inadequate legal and institutional framework,
combined with insufficient political will and commitment to enforcement of regulations, has led
to decreased biodiversity. Wetlands are also at risk because of various pressures, including
overgrazing and pollution of water resources. Other activities that have resulted in degraded
wetlands include drainage for agriculture and for construction in urban and periurban areas.
Today, however, environmental impact assessment is required for all major development projects
in Cameroon to prevent water resources pollution.

VIII- CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The biggest problem in Cameroon is not the availability of water it is the poor management and
development of the resources, coupled with inadequate political will and commitment for the
long term. The patchiness of information available on the quality and quantity of water resources
is a major constraint for successful water resources management and a handicap for poverty
alleviation efforts. Although progress has been made in water supply and sanitation coverage,
much more needs to be done to improve the situation, especially in rural areas. The enabling
environment for application of the IWRM approach is weak, as are institutional frameworks. In
this situation, Cameroon is lagging in meeting the Millenium Development Goals (MDG)
targets. Improving water information systems, as well as completion and implementation of an
IWRM plan, would go a long way towards improving water security and reducing water
pollution in Cameroon, in addition to contributing to poverty alleviation.

Based on the analysis and out understanding of the system we recommend the following six
point strategies for implementation by the government for enhancing the availability and parity
in water use by the rich and poor alike, and for efficient water management in Cameroon:

23
1. A comprehensive water inventory in Cameroon is needed. This will help to sufficiently
address various important issues including the extent of water use by the various sectors
(domestic, agriculture-irrigation and livestock, and industry), the spatial and social
patterns in water use, the background of households using the resource, and comparative
cost analysis of using groundwater and surface water for community water supply,
irrigation and livestock watering.
2. The government of Cameroon should initiate a country wide program of educating the
masses, empowering the institutions, local population to take care of water resources by
cleaning polluted rivers and protecting unpolluted ones (to mitigate groundwater
contamination) around the country, maintaining water infrastructures (boreholes, wells,
mini water conveyances and sanitation systems).
3. The Government should apply the law related to environmental protection to restricting
the production of wastes and pollutants, avoid improper waste dumpsites.
4. Wastewater recycling (at low cost through constructed wetlands technology) as strategy
to mitigating environmental pollution should be encouraged in industries, municipalities
and in agriculture.
5. Application and monitoring of integrated water management approach in different
basins: Combining public (government and communes) and private actors, inter sector
activities concerning (water supply, sanitation, industries and agriculture), all actors of
different rivers basing management to coordinating actions for efficient groundwater
management around the country.
6. Improve the groundwater governance through enabling actions (putting services in place
such as policy improvement, planning new actions and budgeting), developing services
(expenditure of funds, equity in funds use), and sustaining (Facility of maintenance,
expansion of infrastructures).

24
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26
X. ANNEXES
Annexe 1: Faecal streptococci content in the groundwater in the city of Bafoussam, Cameroon
(Mpakam, 2008)

Annexe 2:Average scorecard for enabling, developing and sustaining services in Cameroon
(UNESCO/WHO/JMP, 2010)

Annexe 3: A stream polluted by the plastic wastes in Yaound, Cameroon

27
i