Water supply improved in Cameroon

Posted: 2010-06-29

GWP Cameroon has cooperated with the Kumbo Urban Council and the locally managed Kumbo Water Authority to improve the management of water supply in Kumbo, Cameroon where the ownership of the water supply system has resulted in a more than thirty year long conflict.

The work of GWP has contributed to the re-opening of public taps, extension of coverage and the introduction of a differential water tariff structure. Moreover, an inclusive and participatory community water governance structure involving key stakeholders has been established, and the Kumbo Water Authority is currently engaged in participatory protection and conflict resolution over the catchment area.

The Kumbo water supply system has a complex ownership claim. On the one hand, it is claimed to belong to the Nso community. Others consider it to be government-owned. There is also an ongoing conflict between locals and the municipal water supply system management over the use of the catchment area. In 1984, a presidential decree institutionalised state operation of all urban water supply systems under the Cameroon National Water Corporation. This turned out to be problematic as locals were not involved in the management structure of the corporation. Real trouble however started when the Kumbo Council was billed for water consumed at public standpipes. Disconnection of over 60 public standpipes followed, services deteriorated according to the Nso People and as water tariffs escalated people had to return to unprotected streams for their daily water needs.

Following the political upheavals in Cameroon in 1991, the Cameroon National Water Corporation was forcefully expulsed. The local institution of Kumbo Water Authority replaced it, but it had problems of legality and as a result conflicts followed. In 2004, following decentralization laws in Cameroon, GWP Cameroon, together with the Kumbo Urban Council, facilitated the transfer of water supply management to the Kumbo Urban Council.

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