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Stop Farming, Building On Wetlands, Population Told 

By Elizabeth Enanga Mokake — The Secretary General at the Ministry of the Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development, MINEPDED, Patrick Kum Bong, has warned the population to stop farming or building on wetlands.

Kum Bong gave the warning to individuals mounting pressure on wetlands and marshy areas by constructing houses on such pieces of land at the Centre for Information and Environment, CIED, in Yaounde while launching activities to commemorate the 17th edition of Wetlands Day on January 31.

This year’s event was celebrated under the theme: “Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth,” showing the interdependence between agricultural development and sustainability of wetlands. Representing Minister Hele Pierre, Kum, said wetlands are very important and difficult to maintain, but efforts should be made to preserve this balance. “In the phase of climate change, let’s try to conserve what we have,” he reiterated.

The Secretary General of MINEPDED frowned at the fact that, farmers have the tendency of moving to wetlands or marshy areas during the dry season, to grow their crops. He said human activity can negatively impact wetlands, leading to changes in the ecological character of a wetland and the possible loss of its benefits to people. 

He used the occasion to sensitise not only farmers but Government authorities, because, wetlands can serve as lifesavers, especially in the dry season, to ensure food production, water and grazing for livestock. Patrick Kum said the Ramsar Convention is the only global intergovernmental treaty which focuses on wetlands and conservation and sustainable use of a specific ecosystem.

The convention, which was signed in Ramsar, Iran, on February 2, 1971, was ratified by Cameroon in March 2006. During the event, the MINEPDED Secretary General paid honour to a Chinese Volunteer, Wu Xiangde De, who, for the past 10 years, has been cleaning the Yaounde Municipal Lake with his own finances. Kum gave him a sample of the 200 trees which he will use to plant around the Lake.

The Chinese Volunteer has been doing the purification engineering of the Yaounde Lake since 2003 to present day. He equally did the same work in Nairobi River in Kenya in 2012 and 2013.
The 64-year-old Chinese graduate of Environmental Science from the University of Hanshang, China, said, in the past, the Yaounde Municipal Lake was abandoned and many people lost their lives in it.

“From now on, I wish to call on all Cameroonians and Chinese living in Cameroon to work together to make the Lake a beautiful and better place,” Wu Xiangde appealed. The event was spiced with musical dance groups, sketches, exhibition by farmers and quizzes for students on this year’s theme.

First published in The Post print edition no 01502

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