Water Governance in Cameroon – Opportunities for New Approaches and Capacity Building
|Geolocation:||6° 0' 0", 12° 24' 0"|
|Total Population||21.7 million|
|Total Area|| 475,440475,440 km² |
183,567.384 mi² km2
|Climate Descriptors||Moist tropical (Köppen A-type), Semi-arid/steppe (Köppen B-type), Continental (Köppen D-type), Monsoon, Dry-summer, temperate|
|Predominent Land Use Descriptors||agricultural- cropland and pasture, forest land, rangeland, urban|
|Important Uses of Water||Agriculture or Irrigation, Domestic/Urban Supply|
Natural, Historic, Economic, Regional, and Political Framework
Cameroon's varied climate contributes to uneven distribution of precipitation in which areas within the south of the country receive abundant precipitation and the northern areas, along the edge of the Sahara, receive no more than 500 mm rain per year. Reduced rainfall since the 1950s has contributed to lower flows in rivers within the semi-arid regions, but the dense network of rivers throughout the country still provides sufficient water to meet current demand. However, due to significant climatic differences that impact distribution & precipitation regimes, regional floods, droughts and extended water quality problems are common. 
Cameroon's rivers drain to four major basins: the Niger, Lake Chad, Congo, and Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic). The Sanaga, Nyong, Cross (Manyu), and Ntem Rivers are the largest contributors to Atlantic drainage. The Benue River is a major tributary of the Niger River. The Logone (Chari) river is a major contributor to Lake Chad. The Dja and Boumba Rivers are part of the Congo Basin.
Because many of these rivers contribute to transboundary basins, management decisions at the local/regional/country level for water resources in Cameroon may have implications beyond its borders.
Cameroon's population is growing at an annual rate of 2.8% , and is primarily young, with about 60% of the population below the age of 25. The growing population is contributing to the challenges of increasing and improving sustainable use of the country's natural resources. Awareness of the negative impacts on land, water, and human health due to general deforestation and the aridification of existing agricultural lands have assisted in increasing activities to address sustainable resource management (e.g.: water and land management). Governing water resources in a manner that addresses potential impacts of climate change, the needs of a growing population, and the need to provide equitable access to water and improved water quality across all user groups is a significant and complex challenge.
Cameroon's major challenges for water governance include
- data challenges (gathering and updating quality and quantity information for water), 
- institutional capacity (political will, capacity building, and mechanisms for monitoring and enforcement), and
- local capacity (education for disaster risk management, care and monitoring of water resources at the community level). 
Cameroon's government, educational institutions and communities seek to address these challenges, often with assistance from outside organizations, particularly in building institutional capacity for addressing these challenges at different levels. Some specific capacity building challenges include providing education and facilitating empowerment at the local level for flood/drought preparedness while developing the human resources to enable capacity building within the country.
Additionally, Cameroon is working to address building capacity to address water related risks through transboundary initiatives. Disastrous flood outcomes in 2012 spurred cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria that will address information sharing and coordination on flood control structures. 
Water Governance in the Nyong Basin
The Nyong is the second largest river in Cameroon and the eastern-most portion of the river's extent are characterized by both perennial and seasonal wetlands. Downstream from these wetlands, the basin is dominated by forested and agricultural lands.
A major concern for the governance of this river is that Cameroon does not have any legal and regulatory provision to govern the management of wetlands. Law N° 98/005 of 14 April 1998 established protection, management, and accessibility of water resources, but did not explicitly address wetlands. Environmental degradation and flooding along the Nyong are of increasing concern.
The specific challenges ahead include:
- no system for flood warning
- continued land degradation and deforestation 
- water quality concerns leading to health impacts and serious waterborne illness
In 2012, Tchouaffe Tchadje and Tchamba conducted survey research in Mbalmayo, a city along the Nyong River (3° 31' N 11° 30' E). They sought to understand the socioeconomic, governance, and environmental conditions that shape vulnerability and the capacity to adapt to climate change (i.e. flood risks) within the local community through semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Outcomes from the research included identification of local perceptions of the current river management of the Nyong including water related risk management (flooding) and water quality management.
Currently most agriculture in the immediate region does not use synthetic fertilizers, and continued organic practices and widening the use of responsible organic agricultural practices could have significant environmental benefits to the Nyong basin through increased carbon sequestration and lowered agricultural waste runoff to the river basin.
Tchouaffe Tchadje & Tchamba (2013) conducted a SWOT analysis of the current system from the perspective of stakeholders in Mbalmayo and provide guidance for addressing the Nyong river using principals of IWRM and addressing the key Political, Social, Economic, and Environmental aspects important to stakeholders. They seek to promote a river master plan implemented using community based adaptation and mitigation for climate change (CBAM) principals that provide better security services (risk management and mitigation) for citizens of the river basin.
These recommendations include:
- Enforce existing water management policies
- Decentralize the management system of the Nyong river
- Set up dialogue and local level political network to reduce disaster risks at the local level
- Initialize emergency warning system (EWS)
- Improve basic social dialogue and health services access
- Reduce economic vulnerability through poverty reduction
- Establish an environmental protection framework to prevent further degradation and restore the Nyong
Additional recommendations include the need for a independent regulatory body and increased incentives for activities that improve sustainable use of water resources and good agricultural practice.
Issues and Stakeholders
Building Community level capacity for effective response to acute (i.e. flood event) and persistent (i.e. climate change) water related challenges requires input, assistance & support from organizations at multiple scales
NSPD: Water Quantity, Water Quality, Governance, Assets
Stakeholder Types: Sovereign state/national/federal government, Local Government, Development/humanitarian interest, Community or organized citizens
Surveys conducted within the Nyong Basin by Tchouaffe Tchadje & Tchamba (2013) highlight the need for the population build capacity to effectively prepare for and respond to water-related hazards (see table below). Subsistence agriculture and fishing account for most livelihoods, and farmers and fishermen do not have the tools to respond to flood or prepare for or endure extended drought. Municipalities lack access to funding and financial services to improve their water management and disaster risk management plans. The Central Government (including Ministries of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation; Mines and Water; and, Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development) has a role in helping the local municipalities and community level organizations receive the framework and funds for building response/adaptation capabilities. NGOs and Universities have stake in providing opportunities and schemes for education and planning for disaster risk management.
Table: Perceptions of Stakeholder Groups in Mbalmayo regarding the Governance of the Nyong River (adapted from Tchouaffe Tchadje & Tchamba, 2013)
|Stakeholders||Characteristics and Capacities||Motivations and Expectations||Implications for Planning|
|Community and Women's Organizations||
|| Need to:
|Universities (E.g. University of Dschang)||
Analysis, Synthesis, and Insight
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Tagged with: decentralization
- ^ 1.0 1.1 1.2 World Water Assessment Programme. 2009.The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World.Paris: UNESCO, and London: Earthscan. Pages 2-5. Cameroon case study [PDF, 3 MB] - http://webworld.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr3/case_studies/pdf/Case_Studies_Africa.pdf#page=2
- ^ 2.0 2.1 The National Coordination of the ANCR-NCSA process (2007) National Coordination of the National Capacity Self Assessment Project in Global Environment Management ANCR-NCSA Process. Online: https://www.thegef.org/gef/sites/thegef.org/files/documents/document/ncsa-cameroon-fr-ap.pdf
- ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2013) The World Factbook 2013-14. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013. Available online https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
- ^ African Development Bank, 2009, Country Strategy Paper 2010-2014 Cameroon. Accessed online September 09 2013: http://www.afdb.org/fileadmin/uploads/afdb/Documents/Project-and-Operations/CAMEROON_2010-2014%20COUNTRY%20STRATEGY%20PAPER.pdf
- ^ 5.0 5.1 5.2 TCHOUAFFE TCHIADJE, Norbert F. & TCHAMBA, Martin N., "Water Governance in the River Nyong Basin, Cameroon" Water issues/challenges and Climate Change Adaptation in Africa 24-2 Tadjoung, P. (2008) Importance, menaces et perspectives pour la conservation de la faune mammalienne et ichtyologique du bassin versant supérieure de la vallée du fleuve Nyong. Mémoire de DESS en Sciences Forestières, Université de Yaoundé I. 66 p.
- ^ Ngalme, E. N. Cameroon, Nigeria Cooperate on Flood Prevention. Thompson Rueters Foundation. Accessed 19 Aug 2013 Online : http://www.trust.org/item/20130819082113-2z9lo
- ^ Tadjoung, P. (2008) Importance, menaces et perspectives pour la conservation de la faune mammalienne et ichtyologique du bassin versant supérieure de la vallée du fleuve Nyong. Mémoire de DESS en Sciences Forestières, Université de Yaoundé I. 66 p.
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|Area||475,440 km² (183,567.384 mi²) +|
|Climate||Moist tropical (Köppen A-type) +, Semi-arid/steppe (Köppen B-type) +, Continental (Köppen D-type) +, Monsoon +, Dry-summer + and temperate +|
|Geolocation||6° 0' 0", 12° 24' 0"Latitude: 6|
Longitude: 12.4 +
|Issue||Building Community level capacity for effective response to acute (i.e. flood event) and persistent (i.e. climate change) water related challenges requires input, assistance & support from organizations at multiple scales +|
|Land Use||agricultural- cropland and pasture +, forest land +, rangeland + and urban +|
|NSPD||Water Quantity +, Water Quality +, Governance + and Assets +|
|Population||21,700,000 million +|
|Stakeholder Type||Sovereign state/national/federal government +, Local Government +, Development/humanitarian interest + and Community or organized citizens +|
|Topic Tag||decentralization +|
|Water Use||Agriculture or Irrigation + and Domestic/Urban Supply +|