Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Watershed Degradation in the Bamendjin Area of the North West Region of Cameroon and Its Implication for Development

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Watershed Degradation in the Bamendjin Area of the North West Region of Cameroon and Its Implication for Development

Article excerpt

Abstract

It is indeed a paradox that even with favourable natural endowments such as fertile soils and abundant surface water resources, some rural communities and regions still reflect major levels of poverty, food insufficiency, limited water supplies and water-related health problems. To ensure stability in food production and sustain food sufficiency in areas where local economies entirely depend on farming and the natural state of the environment, it is important to investigate the indications and implications of environmental degradation. Through the application of relevant field methods for data acquisition and analyses, the paper examines and proposes recommendation where ..... of the degradation of the Bamendjin Catchment area, which is located within the fertile volcanic province of the North West Region of Cameroon. The results reveal that poor land use have ushered in profound degradation of this watershed. This paper also provides the tools needed to improve on the perception and attitude of the inhabitants towards the exploitation of this watershed and their local environment in general.

Keywords: watershed, catchment area, degradation, Bamendjin, food security

1. Introduction

Watersheds are generally considered as points of development especially in countries which rely on water dependent activities. A major problem confronting watersheds remains the increase in human population and land use mutations, which sets in to degrade watersheds. The implications on communities concerned are usually grave - the decline in water quality and quantity which translates into the upsurge of water borne diseases and a drop in agricultural production. The Bamendjin Area in the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon is an agro-economic haven with enormous potentials for sustainable food production. As Lambi (1999) points out, the swamps and the dam in the Bamendjin watershed constitute an abundantly vast 'water empire'. The diversified physical terrains of the Bamendjin area have determined the different types of occupational land use systems with consequent agricultural intensification (Lambi, 1999). The varied nature of the physical and human landscape thus, constitutes the framework for the spatial processes which considerably account for the degradation of the watershed. However, the increasing human population, coupled with the scarcity of favourable land for farming, grazing and construction of settlements appear to be the drivers of watershed degradation. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the long cycles of poverty in the North West Region with approximately 365,352 poor people intensifies the watershed degradation process (Tanga & Fonchingong, 2009). The case of the region 'is remarkable due to its high population density and a rural economy that depends on subsistence agriculture which yields little income and can barely sustain livelihoods' (Tanga & Fonchingong, 2009).

Watersheds are zones of conflicts because land users have different goals for the available natural resources. In this area, there is the encroachment of farmers into traditional grazing lands and straying of animals onto farmlands. These have resulted in social and economic conflicts which undermine efforts to improve the lives of large numbers of the poor who depend on these resources for their survival and economic well-being. Since the population in this watershed has been growing fast, there is need for sufficient water supplies. Water scarcity and contamination have thus, remained issues of major concern and a hindrance to development. The drop in farm produce (in terms of quality and quantity) reduces the income-generating power of the population and retards their development. Biodiversity provides material wealth. These aesthetic rewards are threatened by the general losses imposed on the landscape by crop cultivation and animal rearing. This is an unfortunate trend because vegetal destruction means most living things sustained by this habitat either die or do seek asylum elsewhere. …

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