Cameroon GLOBE Students Increase Environmental Awareness of Municipal Lake
Between 2000 and 2003, twenty secondary-school students at Lycée Bilingue d'Application (LBA) Yaoundé used GLOBE protocols to study the water quality of Yaoundé Municipal Lake in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Under the guidance of their teacher, Mr. George Nditifon, who is also a GLOBE Assistant Master Trainer in Hydrology, these students found the lake to be highly stressful for aquatic life. Over the three year period, these dedicated students devised a research plan, collected weekly data and analyzed their results. They found that the pH averaged 10 - 0.5 and that the dissolved oxygen averaged 2.5 - 0.8mg/l (ppm). Their research supported other work being done by a university researcher, Dr. Charles Bonje. Their research provided supports for efforts to clean up the lake considerably. However, longer term sewage treatment is needed to improve and sustain water quality. As George Nditifon says, "This study shows the relevance of GLOBE protocols to society."
The students presented their work to officials at the American Cultural Centre in Yaoundé on World Environment Day 2003. GLOBE students Yangwet, Nuipoko, Ngufor Mercy, Ntokowo Habib, Ghogomu Constance, Ebontane Shelly, CHI Magdala, and Tumajong George, were also short listed for the Caretakers Conference in Turin, Italy.
The students learned that the lake was created in 1951 on a tributary of the Mfoundi River. It was created to promote aquaculture and nautical sports.
Unfortunately, the lake became highly polluted and heavily silted. This caused the lake to:
- Lose surface area - reduced to circa 3.2 ha from 6-7 ha,
- Lose depth - reduced to circa 1 m - 1.5 m from 5 m,
- Undergo eutrophication,
- Lose aquaculture - prawns & shrimps,
- Loss of nautical sports,
- Have offensive & nauseating smell,
- Transmit waterborne diseases,
- Become a place for criminal activities,
- Lose much needed and scarce revenue.
The students became concerned about the health and environmental implications of this lake located in a densely-populated area. The lake is surrounded by residences, hotels, government buildings and hospitals. People eat fish from this lake and some even bathe in the water.
Students measured water temperature, transparency, dissolved oxygen, pH and nitrate-nitrogen. They concluded that the very basic pH values and low dissolved oxygen values could support little life.
Through this research project, students have contributed to improving public awareness of the environmental and health problems associated with the lake. As a result, sanctions were placed on a hotel and real estate company. As well, the Cameroon Government and Yaounde Urban Council removed aquatic macrophages and solid environmental wastes.
Many congratulations for the students at LBA and Mr. George Nditifon!
20 December 2005