Cameroon’s location on the Atlantic coast in central Africa between latitude 2° and 13°north, has a huge and diversified water resources potential. In terms of quantity, it is the second potential in Africa after the Democratic Republic of Congo. With 208 km3 of renewable water resources, only 1 km3 is used for drinking water. The access rate to fresh water is still low and far from the millennium’s goal target (43,9%); the rate of water sanitation and hygiene is worse (36%). The gap between rural and urban areas is huge as well as among the ten regions. Since the country’s independence in 1960, the institutional set‐up of the water sector is under construction while the country is facing growing challenges, namely a fast growing population (2.6% per year) and unplanned rapid urbanization.
In Cameroon, the water sector is managed by the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy. In this ministry there are two departments in charge of water: one for management and the other for the mobilization of water resources. Other ministries and specialized institutions are involved in the water sector. The table below shows the main public actors of the sector.
The rules and regulations governing fresh water and sanitation in Cameroon come from two main sources:
- The international norms or conventions that Cameroon has ratified. One of the most important is that the country is committed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals concerning the water sector; another one is that Cameroon has adopted the 4 Dublin principles concerning Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
- The national development policy. Since 2009, Cameroon has elaborated a policy called «Vision 2035» whose aim is to transform the country into an emerging one by 2035. This vision is planned to be implemented between 2010 and 2020 through the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper.
Within this general framework, a lot of laws, rules and regulations cocerning the water sector exist in Cameroon (for detailed information see the booklet developed during the "IWM for Upper Mefou Sub-catchment"-workshop.
- Sustainability one of the key issues of
national development policy
- Huge potential for hydropower
- Existing hydraulic infrastructures
- laws adapted to international texts
- no legal framework for management of small catchments
- Law on water sector not updated since 1998
- no clear competences
- Lack of communication between water institutions and users
- Clash of interests between water supply and energy
- incomplete inventory of infrastructure
- insufficient human resources and finances
- a lot of regulations
- conflict among administration
- vandalism on water infrastructure
- rapid deterioration of infrastructure
- ongoing process of establishment of IWMR on national scale
- Right to create associations
- Many projects, financial and technical opportunities linked to the participation of Cameroon in many regional/International organizations concerning water