Clean Water

A watertank under construction

Day 5 and 6: Water supplies in Wvem

We started our work in Wvem early on Monday morning. After a hearty breakfast, we headed into the centre of Wvem to meet the village’s water management committee. After introductions, we discussed the situation of the water supply in the village, including a discussion of the current problems and how the committee thought we could help. After a lunch of fufu, huckleberry and grilled fish we set off on a tour of the village. I’m not sure how useful our presence was on the first day - I’d like to think we helped with the water supply, but we certainly disrupted teaching in the schools we walked past: in the first, I think every class stopped teaching so the children could run out and see the white man. There were 4 schools in the village, and the children in all of them stopped to stare at us. The only one where they didn't seem too bothered was the nursery school, where they looked more puzzled by us than anything else (the other schools were two primarys and a secondary - the secondary school pupils were being taught in a couple of classrooms of the primary school, since the official secondary school was still missing a roof).

On Tuesday, we trekked up to the catchment above the village. The catchment area is well-protected: with human activities banned in a substantial area, thick jungle has grown up around it, making access difficult - even more so when carrying 12 kg of water testing kit up with us! Perhaps here is a good point to mention a little bit about the kit we were using. We took a DelAgua kit with us; the main part of this kit is an incubator and battery for microbiological testing. We used it to measure the thermotolerant coliform count in water samples, which requires a 16 hour incubation cycle. In conjunction with a 3 hour sampling window, this meant we had to plan our testing schedule quite carefully if we didn't want to wake up in the middle of the night, or have our incubation cycle finish while we were busy elsewhere. We also had equipment to measure the turbidity, pH and chlorine content of samples (both total and free chlorine).

We also wanted to collect some samples from part of the village we didn’t have time to visit on Monday. In common with other villages in Cameroon, it’s very spread out, and the furthest taps were at least 5 km from the centre, so we spent a fair bit of the day walking. Wvem is a lovely village, nestled up in a highland valley; it's well worth a visit if you're ever in Cameroon!

Day 7: Catching rats

© Aidan Reilly 2013