Environment: Bamenda's recent floods, result of poor waste management, town planning, farming alignment, others

By Bakah Derick 

Wednesday 14 September 2022, Bamenda floods like never before. From Mankon to Nkwen, all streams overflow their banks leaving many stranded and nearly homeless.
Overflows at Mile 4 bridge 
 
"Places were locked but I managed to reach the regional hospital unfortunately going back home even though I saw a bike, crossing the various streams was not easy and now I am stocked here again in mile four." Linda konglim tells www.hilltopvoices.com as she struggles to get a means to facilitate her crossing of the flooded Nkie-Mufeh bridge. 

She indicates that passing through City Chemist to Sonac street was a herculean task. The K-town road was completely impassable. She managed her way through the bridge at the Nkwen  market area. 

"Water is everywhere today. The worst part is that it is very dirty and so as I managed to cross, I was not too sure of what can happen to me. See my dresses are wet like this because I passed inside the water." 

Early this year, running water from heavy rains killed two boys in Mankon. Property in hundreds of millions have been destroyed. 

This is in the heart of Bamenda where waste management have resulted to serious drainage crisis. Kari Jackson, Environmentalist and Executive Director of Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) points at  these as the main reasons for the floods. 

"We have the  precarious use of plastics. All the plastics and other garbages have blocked all the run ways of these runoffs. The gutters are all inundated with such plastics. Even where you have the wetlands or the fresh water meeting with the heavier waters where we have this confluence, the bridges, the gutters, the culverts have all been blocked by these containers. All of these need to to be exhumed and it is a hard situation." The environmentist states citing the mobile Nkwen areas and Mile 4 Nkwen. 
 

North West Regional delegate for Environment and Nature Protection Mue Denis Kpue corroborates the Environmentalist and says sensitisation efforts by his services have not paid off enough. 
North West Regional delegate for Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development. 

"Floods generally come as a result if poor waste management where most of the waste like bottles or plastics are washed to water bodies where they block water passages and water cannot flow smoothly. At that level we are bound to have overflows and hence floods. Together with partners, we have been running sensitisation campaigns but we notice no change." Mue Denis confirms 

Kari Jackson continued "Another major cause of floods in our contemporary situation is firstly due to farming alignment because of fertilizers like what we have in Bamenda now, all the wetlands have been eutropicated with new trends which means fertilizers in the Santa area are precariously utilised and our wetlands I mean the ponds, the wetland we use to have around Mulang, the cow street area and Mile 4 Bamenda III, they have all been eutropicated." 
Kari Jackson, Environmentalist and Executive Director of Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) in his Bamenda office 

"This equally has to do with our town planning situation. Our city plan seems obsolete and lots of things were done on short-term bases. Experts needed to have constructed with a long-term plan. Houses are constructed haphazardly with no consideration for water ways. This either narrows or blocks passages. Reclamation is rampant and we hear, some of these people have building permits issues by council authorities" Kari Jackson adds.

The resultant consequence of all these are the floods hitting Bamenda these days almost on weekly bases. Visible to everyone, evironment focused nongovernmental organisations are taking steps towards mitigating the situation. 

"We are working on collecting the bottles, from and around the market, We buy the bottles from hawkers and then the women work on it by cutting, perforating and filling the ground. This is working well for us and I think it is a good project because we are reducing waist from the environment and it is very much sustainable than the polythene bags we have been using over the years." Tata Charity of the Society for the Promotion of Initiatives in Sustainable Development and Welfare (SOPISDEW) say. 
#EndCovid237 #CmrFreeCovid19 

As part of their environmental education project, a Bamenda based not-for-profit nongovernmental organisation Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW) has been running a campaign on the use of plastic bottles for home gardening. They have had indoor workshops and sessions with pupils and students in schools. 

"Plastic is not just waste; it is a resource. We need to recognise and work with this resource to improve on our livelihoods, create jobs and promote organic farming around us in little spaces in the community while protecting our environment. At CAMGEW, we use these plastics to grow various vegetables, food spices, medicinal plants organically... This is something that rather than having these plastics liter around, block our water ways, pollute are beautiful rivers and environment, we should put it into use by developing urban gardens in little spaces and enjoy the goodness of nature right in the urban center." Ernestine Sevidzem CAMGEW Gender and Women Empowerment officer tells www.hilltopvoices.com. 
Ernestine Sevidzem demonstrates the use of plastic bottles for gardening during a workshop 

The delegate for Environment like other experts has ideas on what could be the solution. 

"As a measure, we are suppose to do proper waste management where we sort our waste, we dispose of it properly, we clean our gutters constantly and by so doing the water is able to flow continuously into bigger water bodies around thus reducing or minimizing these floods to a certain extent. We can equally plant trees to stabilize our slopes and at that level they are able to take up some of the water and these floods are prevented." Mue Denis Kpue suggests. 

According to Kari Jackson, "To salvage this, lots of town planning corrections have to be done. We are witnessing an era when climate change is real. Since March through May, rains were hard to come by and they came but moving in the trends of climate change, a lot has to be done to redress the situation by moving out of the normal business as usual and facing climate change even the cooling situation of our town and country, i think it is becoming horrible. So experts have to work with municipal authorities and political leaders that be so that this situation is treated." 

Unlike in the Bamenda III Municipality where municipal authorities are making some visible attempts to provide a at least a temporal solution to the overflows, nothing is done elsewhere. While admitting that waste management is problem, the Bamenda III Mayor, Fongu Cletus Tanwe has indicated that such an activity is the responsibility of the City Council. 
Mayor Fongu Cletus Tanwe talking to www.hilltopvoices.com while supervising a temporal measure project execution. 

The City board during one of their sessions, Hilltopvoices has gathered discussed on the Mile 4 Nkwen bridge incident in Isolation following a motion. The Councils Support Fund for Mutual assistance (FEICOM) has admitted that being a social project they can provide funding pending on the followup efforts of the beneficiary. 

Cameroon's waste management contractor HYSACAM abandoned the job in Bamenda in May 2022 following contract expiration and the ongoing armed conflict which has claimed the lives of their workers and property destroyed. 

With three former government delegates (Njomia Perfok, Tazong Abel Nde and Vincent Nji Ndumu) celebrated at anytime the opportunity presents itself and now a City Mayor, Bamenda, seat of the Administration of the North West region Bamenda should be better. Apart from not being able to manage the city drainage systems, they have failed to give the city roads and basic social amenities like sports infrastructure, street lights, parks, modern markets, an organised transport system, water and more 

As the wait for the realisation continues, Bamenda City dwellers could still have more time to deal with floods because a holistic solution that targets the city as a whole is not yet on sight.