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Published on: 01/03/2012

Nyen and Mbemi are two communities in Cameroon sharing the same gravity water supply system that was started in 1974 and completed in 1980. It is a big scheme with all kinds of good facilities. It comprises the following components and facilities: five spring catchments, one storage tank with a capacity of 9000m3, one interruption chamber, three public fountains and one flushing fountain at the Fon’s palace, one shower house with an attached office, eight washing places and 28 stand pipes.

Mr. John Muno was the first caretaker of the system. As one of the villagers working with the team that constructed the system, he was elected as caretaker and sent to Kumba town for training at SATA (Swiss Association for Technical Assistance, now known as Helvetas). After training, he returned to the village and was given a monthly salary on the Cameroon state payroll. This kept him satisfied and motivated him to work well. He did the job well with support from village institutions such as the traditional council and the village development association. After sixteen and a half years he retired from the caretaker’s job. Before retiring he put in four years of voluntary work, after the government stopped paying caretakers in the country. The four years were also used to train a young caretaker who was elected by the villagers and is now doing the job.

Muno now regrets the situation because he says that the caretaker is not motivated enough. The young man cannot concentrate on the job or react promptly to complaints because he has to do other paying jobs to survive. John Muno recommends proper training of management committees to take caretaker support more seriously and to request state support through municipal councils. The communities of Nyen and Mbemi did not take over the payment of their caretaker. They hoped that the government would soon restart paying the caretaker and they decided to wait for that. It did not happen and the water system started to suffer.

Andrew Tayong

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