Water, they say, is life. But in Cameroon, some towns and villages have no life as the population has to trek for kilometers to get portable water.
The water situation in Cameroon is grave, according to What Water, an NGO that creates bridges by bringing together artists and enlisting the help of people around Europe and Central Africa to provide water access to disadvantaged populations. Louis-Yves Yinda, What Water Cameroon Director, paints a gloomy picture of water needs in Cameroon. “In a city like Yaounde, the demand for water stands at 250,000 m3 per day, but 180,000 m3 is supplied, a deficit of 70,000 m3.” This explains why most inhabitants have turned to boreholes and wells for water.
Only 33 percent of Cameroonians have access to potable water. The situation is worse in the villages, where 64 percent have no access to potable water, Yinda explained. What Water which started activities in Cameroon three years ago, decided to invest in drinking water for the population.
What Water partners with councils to close the gap for 50-50 co-financing. From boreholes to water castles, the NGO has therefore built and refurbished 10 water points in Bangante, and Foumban, among others. The projection for 2024 is to build 20 water points. It is against this backdrop that the NGO is in Cameroon to meet different stakeholders to nurture more partnerships.
The innovation of the NGO has been in digitalizing water points. What Water President, Gwen Tchoungui, explains the rationale behind the initiative, including the traceability of water utilization and the equitable distribution of water.
To meet its objectives in line with the vision of providing portable water to Cameroonian communities, What Water promotes Cameroonian culture to raise funds. Fertile Sefolosha: What Water Executive Director explains. “We had two exhibitions in Switzerland, Luxemburg, and one in Cameroon, in partnership with Unesco, and raised FCFA 100 million from the sales of artistic works by Cameroonian artists in the Europe network.” What Water presents Cameroonian culture everywhere, worked with the Cameroonian diaspora in Paris, and produced a documentary with the support of the culture ambassador, Bathlemew Togo, and Yannick Noah.
The General Director projects that in 2024/2025, a residence will be constructed for Francophone artists in Bandjoun in the West region. Ten artists from Europe would be invited for a residency in Cameroon, at the end of which three exhibitions would be organized, two in Cameroon and one in Europe. Equally in the pipeline is the rehabilitation of the Contemporary Arts Gallery in Yaounde. A film in partnership with the Association Sept Jour on the theme of societal transformation that water generates in rural areas with the construction of water points is an opportunity for female cinematographers.
Axelle Salvage, What Water Europe Director-Luxemburg, identified the business partners that they work with and who are in Cameroon with What Water to explore business partnerships.