GWP Cameroon and UNICEF signed a collaboration agreement on 23 March 2017 to implement the project "Improving the resilience of WASH services in the Mayo Tsanaga sub-basin through pilot initiatives". Indeed, the underground water that contains high levels of fluoride has a negative impact on the health of populations (especially children), which have been identified I some areas in the Mayo Tsanaga sub-basin in the Far North of Cameroon. The consumption of fluoride rich underground water for drinking purposes causes dental problems, bone malformations and many others health problems. Through this project, GWP Cameroon and UNICEF will be contributing to the improvement of the health of children and populations in the Far North Region of Cameroon.
As part of this project, a field campaign was conducted in the Mayo Tsanaga sub-basin in the Far North Region of Cameroon from 24th August to 7th September 2017. The main objectives of the mission were to hydrogeo-chemically identify boreholes with fluoride-rich water in the administrative unit of Meri sub-division, one of the project pilot sites, and to create conditions to accelerate project implementation with emphasis on the design, construction, testing and installation of the fluoride removal system.
Several villages in the Meri district were visited by the team, composed of the administrative and financial assistant of GWP Cameroon, one expert from the National Institute for Geological and Mining Research (IRGM), a teacher and two students from the National Polytechnic School of the Sahel, one student from the National Advanced School of Public Works in Yaoundé, and one procurement staff from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The mission has two highlights: (i) the training of students in the collection of water samples and their preservation prior to laboratory analysis; and (ii) the conduct of negotiations with the National Polytechnic of the Sahel on the design, construction and installation of the fluoride removal unit.
The team collected a total of 36 water samples from the 18 villages, which have been sent to the laboratory of the Institute of Geology and Mining Research in Yaoundé for analysis.
Moreover, there were a series of consultations held with other project stakeholders such as the Directorate of “Institut Supérieur du Sahel” (ISS) Maroua, the Far North Regional Delegate for MINEE, and the Coordination of ACEEN-Maroua, which not only improved upon the planning of the field work, but also provided avenues for reflection on the Memorandum of Understanding between the GWP Cameroon and its partners in this project.
After reviewing the challenges faced on the field, and the project document, the team recommended that the process for the recruitment of a project manager and communications consultant be accelerated before the next mission to ease on-site issues on logistics, and follow up the field activities.