Cameroon has been struggling against plastic pollution for years. The country produces around 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year according to estimations. Thus, in 2014 the government banned the import, production, and distribution of single-use plastics. Notwithstanding, the country was not successful in the implementation of this ban.
Like many African countries, Cameroon faces many obstacles in managing plastic waste. Firstly, the lack of political will and finance restrains the investment in waste collection and recycling infrastructure. Without the proper infrastructure, waste management puts all the weight on consumers. 58% of consumers just litter the waste. Last but not least, many developed countries try to smuggle their plastic waste to developing countries.
As a result, plastic waste continues to accumulate. It blocks drains, river channels, mangrove roots… The consequences become increasingly dramatic.
How is plastic pollution affecting Cameroon?
Plastic waste blocks drain and sewage systems. This is especially serious in flood-prone cities like Douala. Douala is the country’s most populated city and an important economic hub. The city is located on the statuary of the Wouri River. Each year, in the rainy season, rivers burst their banks and cause deadly floods. After years, floods have become deadlier due to plastic waste and climate change.
Diseases and respiratory ailments
According to a report by Tearfund, between 400,000 and 1 million people die each year in developing countries due to diseases related to unmanaged waste. That is the equivalent of one person every 30 seconds. Indeed, mismanaged waste harms people’s health in the following ways:
- Waterborne diseases and death by drowning.
- Diseases spread by flies, mosquitos, and vermin. Mosquitoes spread malaria and dengue. Flies carry diseases such as typhoid fever and tuberculosis. Rats transmit rabies and plague.
- It doubles the incidence of diarrhoeal disease. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old.
- Open burn of waste releases pollutants. Polluted air increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Also respiratory ailments, skin and eye diseases, and damage to the reproductive system.
- Landslides at illegal dumpsites. It caused the death of at least 150 people in 2017.
- Plastics enter the food chain in form of microparticles. Animals and humans end up eating these tiny plastics. The health impacts of this are as yet unknown.
Threat to estuaries and mangrove forest
The Wouri estuary is an important global hotspot for biodiversity. Wetlands and mangrove forests are the home of birds, fishes, shrimps, and other wildlife. Furthermore, the roots of mangroves help protect the coasts by acting as a natural barrier during floods.
Plastic pollution in Cameroon reaches mangrove forests as well. As a result, hungry turtles and manatees eat these harmful plastics. Finally, the tide sweeps along massive amounts of plastic waste to the ocean.
Decreases farming production and fisheries
The blockage of waterways and drains during rainfall damages crop yields and prevents plants from growing. Consequently, land fertility and farming production reduce. Besides that, fish stocks decline too. Plastic waste chokes the roots of mangroves until eventually die. Therefore, fishes and other fauna depending on these ecosystems disappear too. The consequences on population are equally dramatic as 40% of the local population depends on fisheries.
| What problems are causing plastic pollution in Cameroon? |
✔ Diseases and respiratory ailments.
✔ Increases child mortality rates.
✔ Pollutes soils, waters, and air.
✔ Increases inequality.
✔ Reduces wildlife and destroys ecosystems.
✔ Damages farm production and land fertility.
✔ Disrupts local economies.
What are the solutions to plastic pollution in Cameroon?
REVALUO is the non-burn waste-to-energy solution. Our technology recovers energy from waste and uses it for multiple purposes. In the process, we use low-carbon treatments for waste. Thanks to that, our system recycles waste in a profitable and clean manner. Using REVALUO we could:
- Recycle plastic waste in a clean and safe way.
- Inject a new source of revenue to the economy.
- Supply electricity in cities, rural areas, and small villages.
- Mitigate pollution and diseases associated with it.
- Create a new industry and jobs.