The availability of potable water is a global concern. Its effective management is an issue that varies with location and socioeconomic conditions. Many communities in the developing world possess certain common characteristics such as rapid population growth, urbanisation, and lack of resources to provide basic necessities to their inhabitants.
This includes water, especially potable water. With the constant change of these characteristics, the provision of services is complex. Water is particularly affected by climate change; usable freshwater resources account for only 0.7% of the total water available in the planet (Williams, 2014) and the changing climate affects the water cycle and patterns of weather, which are the forces moving water around the globe.
In Cameroon and most parts of Africa, water supply to rural communities is left in the hands of the communities who take initiative (creating community water projects often termed water committees) to meet this need for themselves. The locals who manage these services are not skilled in the domain which makes it difficult for them to effectively plan for the future. With the interest for an improved management of the service in these communities, they sometimes grow to water authorities owned and managed by the community members.
The Bambili Water Authority (BWA) is the water management body for the Bambili Village in Tubah Subdivision of Cameroon. It is a completely community-owned organisation charged with the provision of potable water for this community. Despite its existence since 1987 and a governance structure outlined in a constitution adopted in 2001, BWA has faced various challenges and lacks vital information about the system.
The Water Authority faces institutional, environmental and financial problems which lead to and are exacerbated by water shortages, especially in the dry season. To begin a process of positive change and development, proper information to quantify the amounts of water supplied and demanded by the community was deemed a priority for the Bambili Water Authority.
A partnership was therefore established between BWA, Reignite Action for Development and Engineers Without Borders in order to provide professionals within the water sector to carry out an assessment of the water system, recommend appropriate solutions and build capacity within the staff team.
A water balance assessment is conducted to determine the difference between the inputs to a water system (the amount of water harnessed at the spring catchments) and the outputs (all of the water which leaves the network, i.e. the water demand of the village, wastage and leakages).
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the timeframe of the water balance project was shortened from three to two months which had some effect on the project scope. Although a full assessment of supply and demand was carried out for the entire Bambili village, the demand per tank has not been investigated. Instead of collecting primary data for all aspects, representative water usage was adopted for households and student populations and other estimations were made.
All water sources of BWA were visited and flow measurements conducted. These were assessed with the use of a checklist developed from a previous EWB-UK/Reignite placement at Bambui Water Authority (BAWA).
Questionnaires were developed and administered on a one to one basis to gather information about the water demand from various water users taking the integrated water resource management (IWRM) approach into consideration.
International standard guidelines on water supply and management were consulted for comparisons and in making assumptions. BWA provided access to several internal documents which were studied to obtain information regarding the institutional setup and financial situation of BWA.
This particular water balance assessment aimed to establish whether the BWA water supply is adequate for the village, as well as to understand the reasons for the regular water shortages in Bambili. As a result, the Water Authority will benefit from information which will assist future planning and a strategy for improved management.
The project had the following objectives:
- Conduct a concise water balance by:
- Conducting flow measurements at all BWA sources to determine the quantity of water fed into the BWA system;
- Surveying and calculating the water demand of the community;
- Estimate the future water demands;
- Address water shortages both now and in the future by recommending appropriate solutions based on the results obtained;
- Identifying capacity gaps and share skills and knowledge.
Head of Programme: Mariana Matoso
Project Team Leader: Teresa de Sousa
Project Assistant: Gwenver Salmon
Sector Coordinator: Afunwi Denis
Volunteers: Afunwi Denis, Bekeni Francis, Akwo Bernard, Awemo K. Lawrence, Eric Ykekaing, Yuninui Emmanuel, Tantoh Peter, Awa Roland, Tomeh Mary Bi, Gayos Aldule
Photographer: Fernando Matoso
Applicant: Reignite & Bambili Water Authority
Local Partners: Tubah Council
Other Partners: Engineers Without Borders UK
Estimated Cost: £ 3,000
Community Funds: Transportation to sites
Other Funds: Private funding & EWB UK
Timeline: 3 Months