The goal of the Cameroon Water Distribution System project is to increase the quality, quantity, and access to clean drinking water for the villages of Bakang and Balatsit in Bamendjou, Cameroon. The system we are installing will supply the community with clean ground water for drinking. Using solar power, water is pumped from borehole wells, located at three sites in the community, to plastic storage tanks. From the storage tanks, water is pumped up a hill to a 20,000L reservoir. From the reservoir, a pipeline takes the water to 4 tap stands located throughout the community. When the project is finished, each member of the community will have access to 10L of clean drinking water per day with 7 access points throughout the villages.
Before we started working in the community, the only access the vilagers had to clean drinking water was to travel several miles into town to pay for government water. The closest water source located in the community is the “cow pond,” that not only supplied water for drinking but also for activities ranging from cleaning clothes to cleaning their “motor bikes.” We have found that hydrous diseases are present in their available water sources, contributing to outbreaks of cholera, amoebic dysentery, and typhoid. There is also a high infant mortality rate in this village, attributed to the lack of drinkable water. Our goal is to provide clean drinking water, and to stop people from using water sources such as the “cow pond.”
In June 2007, we went on our first site-assessment trip, where we gathered data and gained a better understanding of the community’s needs and the feasibility of the proposed design. We repaired a hand pump in the village that was broken to provide an interim solution to the water problem. After testing the water from the tap we found that it was contaminant free and could provide some of the community’s potable water needs. On our second site-assessment trip in January 2008, we presented the community with initial design solutions. We also made contacts to help us pass on the health education and technical skills needed to ensure a sustainable project.
In our first implementation trip in June 2008, we provided clean drinking water to the community by constructing slow sand filtration units and installing a solar powered water pump in a borehole well. On our second trip in January 2009, we taught the community how to build biosand filters, which are used to purify contaminated water for individual households. In June 2009, we drilled two wells and installed two solar powered pump systems for these new wells. We also assessed the geography of the area for a distribution system which would connect the community’s three wells. In January 2010, we completed the installation of a pilot solar powered lift station that pumps water from one of the wells to the top of a nearby hill, where the community’s school is located.
In June 2010, we traveled to Bamendjou to construct a 20,000L ferrocement storage tank at the highest location in the community, located next to the school. The purpose of this tank is to serve as a reservoir and, with the help of gravity, distribute this water throughout the community. A second lift station was installed in January 2011, consisting of a wet well, solar panels, and pipeline from the storage tanks to the reservoir. In June 2011, 2km of pipeline were installed from the reservoir to tap stands in Balatsit and Bakang. We are sending 3km more of pipeline for the community to install on their own. This will end with 4 different paths, and 4 different tap stands for water access.
In January 2013, we had our final assessment trip. We traveled around the area inspecting every part of the system and repairing anything that needed it. The system was working extremely well and everything was as it should be. We also installed new tap stands to replace the old model. Before we left, the community gave us a celebration with the ambassador from the United States. Our work was done.
We are now in the process of wrapping up the project officially through EWB-USA. We have also completed a service manual for the community so that they can mantain the entire system on their own. The villages of Bakang and Balatsit now have a reliable, clean source of water.