Empowering a Rural community towards sustainable water infrastructure and better health
If Cameroon is called “Africa in Miniature” because of its cultural diversity, the village of Mbohkop deserves to be called Cameroon in Miniature. Nestled in the mountains of Northwest Cameroon, Mbohkop is a remote community of about 2000 people. Mbohkop is home to four different tribes (Mbum, Fulbe, Yamba and Fumte), each with their own language. Furthermore, the community has three major religions – Christianity, Islam and African traditional religions.
The Mbohkop community lacks access to the sever basic necessities of life. The sanitation infrastructure within the community is poor and leads to contamination of water sources. These unsanitary conditions, coupled with consumption of non-potable water, cause the people of Mbohkop to suffer from gastrointestinal health issues. The cost of treating these waterborne diseases contributes to the cycle of poverty that afflicts the region.
The EWB-DC Professional chapter has partnered with the community of Mbohkop to implement infrastructure that meets these needs. The principal objective of EWB-DC’s project is to reduce waterborne diseases by providing the community with clean water, sanitation, and health education. The first step is to improve the water quality by installing a potable water system and implementing a water storage/distribution system. During assessment and implementation, community understanding of disease transmission and prevention will be promoted through a health and hygiene campaign. In the future, EWB-DC would like to improve sanitation in the community by installing ventilated and flood-resistant pit latrines.
EWB-DC will travel to Mbohkop in March 2013. The principal goal of this assessment trip will be to become familiar with the community and its needs. After consulting with the people of Mbohkop, EWB-DC members will decide on the best method for water treatment, storage and distribution. Public health specialists will conduct a thorough survey of the community to determine the baseline metrics. EWB-DC members will also initiate the first phase of a health education campaign.
Engineers Without Borders will conduct water quality tests, community health assessment, topographical surveys, assessment of materials availability and appropriate technology for a water supply system. In meetings with the water committee and community leaders, the group will discuss project plans and establish the roles and responsibilities of EWB, the water committee, and other community members. The team will also meet with local NGOs and government ministries to discuss future partnerships.
The EWB-DC Cameroon Project team consists of a diverse team of both young and experienced individuals who are highly motivated and passionate about innovation in international development. The team is rich with various skill-sets, including expertise in engineering, public health, project implementation/management, environmental health and cultural understanding. EWB-DC members have experience successfully implementing a water treatment and distribution system in a rural community in El Salvador.
Engineers Without Borders has partnered with the Water Committee of Mbohkop to assess the needs of the community, and plan projects to meet these needs. The Water Committee will be involved in designing the water system, and will be trained on the operation and maintenance of the system, ensuring project sustainability.
EWB has also partnered with HEDECS, a Cameroonian nonprofit organization with experience in this region, as well as the Peace Corps in Cameroon. Collaborating with these organizations will ensure that EWB’s project is culturally appropriate, economical, equitable and sustainable.