By Chris Mbunwe & *Emmanuel Ngwa
In a bid to fight frequent landslides, floods and urban poverty, the UN Habitat and the Government of Cameroon have resolved to eradicate the slum at the Sisia neighbourhood in Bamenda III Sub-Division.
The resolution was arrived at during a workshop held under the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme, PSUP. The programme is aimed at improving on the living conditions of Sisia inhabitants and those living in slums.
The project is sponsored by the United Nations Habitat, the Cameroon Government through the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, MINDHU, ERA-Cameroon as implementing partner and FEICOM as the financial partner.
According to the National Coordinator of PSUP, Sipliant Takougang; “The PSUP is an initiative of the UN-Habitat in partnership with the European Union Commission, aimed at reducing by 100 million, the number of people living in slums by the year 2020.”
According to Takougang, the programme incorporates the population concerned to develop their area, given that they better understand their terrain.
“Whatever you are doing without me, is against me,” he said. Takougang equally stated that, about 35 countries are currently implementing the PSUP as a fight against urban poverty.
The programme, since 2004, has succeeded in Nkolbikok and Afan Mabe zones in Yaounde and Kribi, respectively. Due to the high rate of poverty in e Cameroon, the Government, through MINDHU, decided to add two slum quarters with Sisia, Bamenda, currently under study, as opposed to one slum area in other countries.
Present at the workshop was Northwest Governor, Adolphe Lele L’Afrique, who praised the initiative of the UN-Habitat and the Cameroon Government geared towards the realisation of Vision 2035 and equally attributed one of the main causes of the recent floods in Douala and Bamenda to poor housing, constructed in slums. He called on all the stakeholders in the project and the Sisia population to be actively involved in the realisation of the project.
The Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council, Vincent Ndumu Nji, in his welcome address, observed that there are a lot of slums in Bamenda with Sisia being the most noticed. He clarified the controversies surrounding Sisia quarter, which was one time earmarked for demolition.
“Those who are concerned with this programme are those living in the risky areas of Sisia; upper Sisia and not the lower part,” Ndumu stated.
“With the success recorded, so far, we are all ready to face the slums in Sisia,” he averred.
One of the workshop participants and the head of ERA-Cameroon charged with the execution of the project, Joseph Njita, said the main difficulty ERA-Cameroon is facing with the implementation of the project is the difficulty involved in getting the population of Sisia to appreciate the programme.
This, he said is because, “for more than 30 years, the population has regarded itself as excluded from the mainstream because the authorities regarded the area as a high risk zone.”
According to Njita, phase II of the PSUP is not to remove the risk factor associated with the area.
“Sisia is still threatened by floods, landslides and other disasters, but what has changed is the attitude of the public authority towards the population,” he said.
*(UB JMC Student on Internship)