No. 75A How a Cameroon farmer lives. Part II: The Water.
By Gaston Bityo Delor | Newsletter No. 75A November 2016

Welcome to the Rainforest Saver newsletter no. 75A. November 2016. 

This interesting second part of the account of the life of a poor farmer in the Cameroon rainforest will also show you a further benefit that adopting the Inga system can have, that might not be obvious at first.

How a Cameroon farmer lives.  Part II: The Water.

By Gaston Delor BITYO

In the first part of this article we have been talking about how a farmer works to earn a living. In this second part we are going to talk about ‘’ WHAT A FARMER DOES TO HAVE SOME WATER’’.

Generally, water is scarce.  But farmers do all that is possible to find it wherever it is possible.  They dig a small hole on a stream or a river side. That is where they can fetch some water.

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The hole for water for all uses, including drinking. They said the bamboo (top right) helps to filter it.

In many villages it is difficult to find young farmers. Young people live in big cities where they expect to find good jobs. Even if they are qualified or not. So farmers are old people living with their grandsons and daughters whose age varies between 5 and 10 and sometime 12. Old farmers can’t go themselves to get the water. This is their grandsons’ work.

These young people have to wake up in the morning around 6:00am for the morning prayer. After the prayer, they have to go to fetch some water and wash dishes for the whole house before going to school. I am unable to tell you about the quality of the water farmers use in the village. God only knows how clean is the water they drink or use to cook food or eventually wash their bodies and clothes. And how clean are the containers children use to put the water.

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Cameroon children.

 

There are at least 2 reasons old people can't go to get the water themselves. They have lots of work to do. When they come back from work they feel very tired. And the place to get the water is a bit far from the village. They are not too strong to reach there. They find it hard even to use the pump.

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Grandmother and grandson in the village.

 

The water is often dirty.  Clean water is a dream in the village. That is why children always suffer from water-borne-diseases.

In some other lucky villages in the contrary, they have what they call ‘’big men’’, that is those Civil Servants who work in big cities and have lots of money. Or some development organizations they call Non-Governmental Organizations ‘NGOs). They can dig wells and equip them with hand pumps. But this is also children’s job. Old people cannot use the hand pump. You can understand quickly why the hand pumps always breakdown just after few years of use, just because children are using them as swings.

In my own village Bizang, Cameroon, years ago, I was lucky to get in touch with an organization called CEDAC (Centre de Développement Auto-Centré) that helps people to get clean water by digging wells (as I got in touch with RFS for Inga Alley Cropping system few years ago). They dug a well in front of my house in the village, but the well was for everybody in the village. Even people from the neighbouring villages came to get some water from that well too. Unfortunately, when I left the village; the pump has broken down immediately.  Rainforest Saver paid for part of the cost of repairing it, but it has broken again. And there is nobody and no money to repair the pump. It is still broken down.  The farmers are getting the dirty water again from the bush as they used to do before.

The grandparents do not have the authority to stop the children damaging the pump. That is the tradition. If I was in the village I would have the authority just because I am not their grand father. They consider me as their uncle who is like a father.

When grandparents have no authority over their grandsons that is not a good system, but it is the tradition. I have just been thinking about how to bring back the young people in the village. If the Inga enables people to come back to their villages, if they can grow enough food to live well there.  That was also my objective when I started the Inga Project in Cameroon. Unfortunately I haven't yet achieved my objective. I am still struggling. But I think with the Inga project and Rainforest Saver’s help and support  too we will achieve the objective. It's a very huge and difficult task but if we continue to join effort as we are doing now we shall overcome one day.

I am now thinking about distributing water filters in each house. To help farmers to get clean water. If a family breaks its water filter that would not affect the whole village. So they need to educate their children if they want to get clean water for long. But this project is still a dream because there is no money or no organizations or individuals to help us to start the project of distributing water filters to needy families. God knows if this project will become true one day.

 

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