Ntunir watershed development for the protection of water catchment areas

2005 Runner Up

KivenK Development is a local NGO in Cameroon. The goal of this project is poverty reduction through the support of physical and vegetative water catchment protection measures and hygiene and sanitation education.

Project Description

The municipalities of Nkar, Mantum, Wainamah-II and Ngwatang have taken their water supplies from different catchment areas in the watershed. Some years ago, cattle breeders and short-term crop farmers, who cultivate cereal and tuber crops, invaded the watershed to improve their livelihoods. As a result, the vegetation has been overgrazed and burnt annually. These activities have led to pollution, reduced water tables and conflicts. People are now faced with increased water short-ages, water borne diseases, land ownership questions and grazing conflicts between farmers. For this reason Jakiri Council set up a plan in 2004 to protect Ntunir watershed. The plan is an integral part of the council’s “Water resource management policy and strategy” document.

Country / Region

The Ntunir watershed lies in the Jakiri Council municipality, North West Province, Cameroon. It spreads over 700 hectares in a moor landscape lying between 1,500 – 2,000 meters above sea level at the foothill of the second highest peak in Cameroon (Mount Kilum, 3,011 m). It harbours the sources of the river Vekovdzen, which feeds the Jakiri town water supply.

Information about local context

The project was carried out in collaboration with the local rural council. The communities were actively involved in the project, through Water Management Committees, performing community labour and contributing in kind to the project. The project was highly important for the local communities as their water sources are drying up for a variety of reasons and a more professional and managed system of water supply is needed to guarantee water supply all year round.

Participation of the communities

The communities were actively involved in the project from the begin-ning through Water Management Committees performing community labor and in-kind contribution. The project was well accepted and received by the local authorities.

Project monitoring

The project progress is being monitored by the community’s water management committees.

Project update 2008

Most of the planned activities have been carried out according to plan. Almost all live fences have been constructed and are being monitored by the caretakers. Several training courses in “water catchment protection and conflict management for caretakers” have been held. KivenK has educated all stakeholders and trained them on corrective and preventive measures, in order to facilitate the process of securing reliable supply of water in good quality and enough quantity. This was reached through capacity building of the stakeholders, immediate catchment area protection by applying physical and bioengineering techniques, land use strategies and conflict management between the residents of the villages and the farmers who are browsing their cattle on the land. Forums and workshops on legal framework of land owner-ship were held, education of the community and elaboration of guide-lines on catchment protection, hygiene and sanitation as well as monitoring tools have been established. The manual “Effective Water Catchment Protection in the Cameroonian Western Highland Watershed”, the guidelines on “Impact Monitoring” and the guidelines on “Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Rural People” have been printed and distributed. The focus will now have to be put on collecting user fees from the water users. Since this is not working yet, the organization has difficulties paying the caretakers on a regular basis.

Project update 2009

The collection of water fees is still weak, especially in Nkar, which is the biggest community. The protection of the catchment areas is strictly being followed. It would be good to conduct some refresher workshops on lessons learned and sensitization meetings for interested communities and interested people of the project municipalities.

Project update 2013

After 6 years, the communities feel the positive impacts of the project. The success of the project is also demonstrated by its multiplication: several other villages in the municipality are now as well working together with the initial communities to protect the Ntunir watershed. Some also adopted the strict regulations of the watershed act. Indicators show that the standard of living has improved.

Positive developments

Water is now available all around the year and shortages only occur when there is a leakage in the pipe system. Due to the protection of the catchment areas, soil erosion and water pollution has been reduced. The prevention of bush fires has led to a fast and steady development of natural vegetation in the protected areas and a stabilization of the water table. It was therefore not necessary to invest in tree planting. According to the regional hospital, fewer people from the project area needed treatment due to water borne diseases between 2007 and 2012 compared to the years before. The watershed act is also well respected by land owners and has therefore helped to minimize conflicts between up- and downstream riparians.

Room for improvement

Regular monitoring, maintenance and reparaition of the pipe system has nevertheless remained a serious problem because caretakers are only paid irregularly. The people in rural areas are not used to pay for water. The project team therefore decided to install water meters in all rural projects, starting in Nkar and moving on progressively from private lines to public standpipes. People then can be charged according to their actual consumption. Experiences from another project indicate that the installation of meters facilitate the collection of water fees. People who refuse to pay will be disconnected from the pipe system at the distribution point until the payment arrives.

Submitted by: 
KivenK Development and Jakiri Council
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KivenK Development and Jakiri Council 
Humphrey M. Tah