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John's Blog - Cameroon part 1

John Heelham’s blog - October 2009

Working in and around the village of Kurume, in the Konye sub-division, myself and two other graduate civil engineers (Tim Moore and Rachel Murray) intend to improve the current water supply system that Kurume, a village of around 700 people, has, and investigate the possibility of extending it to around six other villages.

Cameroon lies, with much of sub-Saharan Africa, in the “low development” bracket of the UNDP’s Human Development Index.

34% of the people here do not have access to an improved water source, and have to drink, cook and clean with dirty, polluted water.

Every day here I see children collecting dirty water from polluted wells in old, dilapidated water containers - this is their regular water source. Around the Konye sub-division incidences of water-bourne diseases such as typhoid and cholera are widespread.

Much of the first month here has involved us talking to the chief, elders and villagers of Kurume and some of the other villages to discover their issues, and what they want out of the Kurume Water Project. Community participation in a development context is vital - the villagers will be, after all, the end users of the project, and must
be able to sustainably maintain the system long after we have left.

Progress can, however, be slow, with lack of equipment (such as surveying equipment), bureaucracy in local government and lack of funds hindering what can actually be done. Much of the work over the next month, will involve attempting to obtain an Abney level to start surveying the existing water system, trying to get information from the local Community Development office as to the logistics of the existing system, and starting to look for funding options for the possible extension of the system.

We will also be carrying out more community participation with all of the villages to understand more about their concerns and hopes.

It may only seem like the tip of the iceberg, but, as they say, every little helps…!

John Heelham, 13th October 2009

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