World Wetlands Day 2005 -- Cameroon

14/02/2005

WORLD WETLANDS DAY
02 February '05

Waza Logone Floodplain, Cameroon

The Waza Logone floodplain in the Far North Province of Cameroon is a highly productive wetland ecosystem and home to fishermen, agriculturalists and nomadic and transhumant pastoralists. Thanks to the presence of the Waza National Park the plain also harbours an enormous diversity of wildlife and birds. However, due to the construction of a dam in order to create a basin to promote irrigated rice cultivation, serious droughts and an increasing population growth, the Waza Logone floodplain has been subjected to severe ecological degradation.

The Centre d'Etude de l'Environnement et du Développement au Cameroun (CEDC) and Aceen Action 21 (L'Association Camerounaise pour l'Education Environnementale), both intervene in the Waza Logone floodplain and this year forces were joined to organise different activities around World Wetlands Day. It was decided to focus the attention on the learners of the secondary school in Zina, a village (and district capital) in the heart of the floodplain. The learners represent different villages of the plain; they are not only learners but also fishermen and agriculturalists; they are in fact the future of the plain and able to inform their siblings and parents about measures to be taken to counter the effects of the plain's environmental degradation.

The activities lasted three days. Poster and stickers were ordered from Ramsar's headquarters, and t-shirts were printed with the text Journée Mondiale des Zones Humides, 02 Février 2005. The first day discussions were held with the entire school (around 130 learners). Different topics were addressed such as the floodplain and its resources, the use of the plain, the threats and dangers, the causes of environmental degradation and possible solutions. A lot of information was exchanged. In the afternoon a soccer match was held between two school teams (in their new t-shirts).

The second day started off with a walking excursion of around 12 kilometres with a group of about 20 learners. The walk was guided by two elders from Zina who explained how the plain looked like in previous times and how things have changed over the years. After the walk, in the early afternoon, the group prepared four drawings: one showing the plain in the past, one demonstrating the plain at present, one illustrating the plain in the future when nothing will be done to counter environmental degradation and one representing the ideal plain. Towards the evening a second soccer match was played, between one school team and a team of young fishermen and agriculturalists.

During the morning of the third day the group continued with their drawings and also a table was filled out: Qui? Doit faire quoi? Avec qui? Quand?, indicating actions that can be taken by different persons in collaboration with others at a certain time to respond to the plain's ecological degradation. In the afternoon two soccer matches were played, one between two female school teams and one between the winners of the previous matches. After the matches the learners presented their drawings and table to the local authorities and the rest of the public.

The learners and teachers were very satisfied with the activities organised. The CEDC and Aceen Action 21 are convinced that a certain level of consciousness about the fragile environment was reached. Of course three days is not much, but the activities fitted well into the programmes of the CEDC and Aceen Action 21, and these will be continued.

Martine Prins, s/c CEDC, Maroua, Cameroun (mail@martineprins.net)

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