Situated amongst the lush, rolling plains of North West Cameroon, Africa, lives the rural community of Bambui and its 17 500 (approx.) inhabitants. Considered to be the jewel in the crown of the grasslands of Cameroon, abeh-mbeuh, as known locally, offers an insight into the traditions and flavour of African life. The people of Bambui trace their ancestry to the Tikar tribe and are currently ruled by a Chief, Angafor Mombo-oh III, and sub-chiefdoms of Manju, Mallam, Matulaah, Fingeh, and Alaakubeh. Working hard in the tropical climate, Bambui is a farming village in which 90% of its economic activities depend on agriculture. However, our attention was brought to the village as rapid urbanisation was putting a strain the community’s resources, threatening Bambui’s agricultural way of life. There was also increased pressure on the existing water supply due to harmful farming practices.
Due to rapid population growth and fluctuating tropical climate in Bambui, clean water is not easily accessible for the whole community. Although the streams and springs provide sufficient supply, water shortages still occur. This is predominantly caused by poor water quality and management. Increased sources of human contamination have contributed to the degradation of Bambui’s water purification system, resulting in ineffective filtration and treatment for the water supply. Currently, the system uses screening, sedimentation, gravel filtration and slow sand filtration, however no disinfection process is currently used. This project is aimed to increase the water output and quality and reduce the maintenance required for the purification system, whilst keeping the same high levels of sustainability.
In collaboration with ‘Engineers without Borders’, ‘Reignite Action for Development’ and ‘Bambui Water Authority’, the ‘Pure Water’ project was born. The original aim of the project was to create an improved water purification system for Bambui, Cameroon. The focus of the improvements was creating a chemical free disinfection process as chemical methods are non-renewable, costly and potentially dangerous. This led the design and development of an environmentally friendly process that can disinfect water using sunlight. Visiting Bambui's current water purification system, we discovered there are many other areas which can be improved such as maintenance and water output. This expanded the project to not only disinfect the water but to improve other areas of the water system.