Mount Cameroon is one of many important watersheds in West Africa and is critical to the people of South West Cameroon for their water supply. In the rural communities, people depend on drinking sources such as springs, streams, rivers and lakes. In urban towns and cities, over ninety percent of the city dwellers depend on secondary drinking sources such as pipe-born water. The ever-continuous running streams and rivers have long shaped the infrastructural development and agricultural patterns of these communities.
In recent times, however, increases in population and farming fields have negatively affected the traditional infrastructural patterns. Firstly, since places like Buea are cosmopolitan towns, the rapid increase in population has necessitated an expansion of infrastructure to accommodate more people. To meet up with this, individuals (especially immigrants from outside the region) have neglected to consider the indigenous settlement patterns which took into consideration environmental risk factors such as the overflow of running rivers.
Secondly, an increasing population has led to higher demands for agricultural produce and thus an increase in the size and number of agricultural fields. However, communities within this area are located on the slopes of the mountain and thus face the real challenge of dealing with severe erosion from run-off or overflow from the rivers. The indisputable need for food and income has influenced some farmers to waive the risk of the overflowing rivers and run-off.
On the other hand, the long periods during which the rivers have stayed dry have equally pushed people to waive the risk of the rivers ever flooding. For decades, many of the river valleys have remained dry, giving farmers the idea that they are reclaiming good farming space.
Today, climate-induced challenges, including strong winds and irregular but heavy rains, have greatly affected the farming calendar and output. Plantain and yam farmers face serious challenges when strong winds erode the soil. Other crops like tubers are often washed away by flooding water. To worsen the situation, the current frequent rainfalls have caused long-dry streams to run again, taking the population by surprise. To this effect, we have witnessed frequent flooding of buildings and overflow on highways which disrupt traffic.
With all of the above, some communities are taking action to mitigate the dangers of the frequent floods and strong winds. Amongst other things, we have encouraged community efforts to reopen or create proper drainage patterns that will channel all the flooding water out of these communities without causing any threat to life or property. In addition, we continue our campaign by encouraging the local administration and council to review the settlement plan and develop good drainage systems.