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Published on: 06/03/2012

The water supply systems of Nyen and Mbemi, Cameroon are connected to the same water source. This has been a cause of many disputes, and has paralysed the functioning of the water committee. A meeting is organised to discuss the problems. Tension is high as members from Nyen and Mbemi enter the hall. Nobody speaks.

The inability of the management committee to function is soon identified as the cause of many problems. Solutions are brought forward, including dissolving the management committee and electing a new one. The chairman stands up to put forward his opinion, but heavy protests prevent him from speaking. It turns out that the leaders of the Mbemi community have mobilised their entire population to outnumber the members of Nyen at the meeting.

An old man from Nyen argues that an election for a new management committee would not be honest because of unequal representation. The people from Mbemi respond that everyone knew about the meeting. The old man explains that during the night somebody died and many people had gone to pay their respects. The groups discuss whether the election should proceed. An old woman, highly respected by both communities, says: “When a child is at fault but accepts its faults, do you send the child away or do you tell it to never do it again?” The people from Mbemi cool down and decide to give the management committee another chance.

Andrew Tayong

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