Health  Cameroon Project #14096

Improving the health of an indigenous Baka village

by Global Music Exchange
Manjanda using a plastic bottle as filter
Manjanda using a plastic bottle as filter
Following on from Alan Stitchcombes visit in March 2014 it had been decided to ask a specialist from Abong Mbang to visit  and provide estimates of feasibility and costs for improving the two springs and the possibility of digging a well. Sadly the man in question Mr Aberdjine died in July before he could visit the site so when we arrived in January 2015 we were no further forward.
On arrival we found that the first spring {nearest Gbine} had been rendered useless by a rise in water level due to damming of the stream and pollution from the alcohol stills on the bank. However the second spring {Mokolobar’s} was still flowing and being used by both the Baka and the village, despite the mud, leaf litter and frogs that abound.
We contacted Samuel Owoundi, a local entrepreneur, who sent us his sub-contractor, Moise Akombombo who had experience in spring capture. Having given us an estimate of 300,000 cfa and explained his proposed method it was decided to proceed at once, while we were on site to help and supervise.
A meeting with the village elders assured us of their support so we started work the next day. A large tree that had fallen just in front of the spring had to be cut through to improve access. The wood was used to provide shuttering boards for the work and to rebuild the bridge over the marsh.
A new path was cleared and widened to allow easier transport of sand and cement, then the waiting began. First it was delivery of materials that were delayed, then Moise’s father suffered an accident which meant that he needed regular visiting, so work only advanced sporadically. However with the help of the Baka workers and Andi’s hard work it was completed on time. 
The water level was successfully raised by about 30cm and by digging an outflow trench a fall of 50cm was attained,and the holding pond filled with boulders and capped with concrete to protect from surface pollution. A small concrete  basin was built under the flow pipe to collect the overflow. We were able to have a simple inauguration ceremony the day before we left.
The quality of the water will be greatly improved but not the quantity, although by stoppering or eventually a tap, a reserve of several 100 litres can de accumulated overnight. it is still far from enough for the local demand as the village pump is still not functioning.
Cutting the fallen tree cleared the path
Cutting the fallen tree cleared the path
Improved access across the marsh
Improved access across the marsh
Moise pouring the second dam
Moise pouring the second dam
Martin and village representat.- 1st drum filled
Martin and village representat.- 1st drum filled
The Spring at Gbine
The Spring at Gbine

At the end of 2003 we heard that the well built in the village of Banana, which we had used as an example to build at Gbiné, had run dry. So as not to waste scarce financial resources we decided to research alternative methods of making clean drinking water available to the Baka community at Gbiné. To this end Alan Stinchcombe kindly came at his own expense to look into possibilities.

You can download his report at HERE

We have not been on site since the last report, but we continue to keep in touch by telephone and have financed several medical emergencies. We have concluded that since to start training a Baka woman from scratch to become a trained midwife, we need to get them through basic education first. Since this is not what donations were made for we are looking into finding a trained midwife to volunteer to teach the Baka women that already have knowledge of midwifery through traditional practical experience to know when it is necessary to get outside “modern” medical help. We feel that at this stage this would be better use of scarce resources.

Our next visit to Gbiné will not be until January 2015 when we will also be organizing another Forest Voices Tour. Read how the last one went at http://www.forestvoices.com

 

We have just returned from Cameroon where as well as moving our health project along we have been helping the Baka musicians tour other Baka communities. (Follow the tour on our blog at forestvoices.com)

We had some very sad news before we returned that Barma, a woman we have known for 22 years, had died. We were horrified to find out when we arrived that she had died due to a hernia. Unfortunately she hadn't told anyone about it so we could not give her the simple operation that you have so kindly helped fund. It made us aware that the women especially need encouraging to come forward. Two hernias were treated while we were in Cameroon and the recipients are very happy with the results.

On our arrival we heard news that there had been a nasty accident involving 3 Baka (a man, his wife and their baby) travelling on the back of a moto-cart (a kind of motortrike with seats on the back). Although much wider than a motor bike they only have one headlamp in the front and they were hit by an oncoming car travelling at night. The man was killed, the baby unhurt and the mother had awful leg injuries. By the time we arrived gangreen was beginning to set in and the driver who brought us down to Gbiné took her back to the mission hospital in Salapoumbé. Thanks to the funds we have raised her leg was saved, though she will always have to use a stick to walk now.

Communications with the hospital at Salapoumbé are very hard as there is no phone network, as well as being 400km from the nearest tarmac road. When we went there we found that the Baka woman who needed funds to finish her midwife training had left and couldn't be traced. We are looking into the possibility of finding another woman, but there are not many Baka women with the level of education needed to start the training. We are looking into the possibility of helping the Baka women who traditionally deal with helping with births get extra training to deal with emergencies that are beyond their ability to deal with in the forest.

Last year the well that was built last year in the village of Banana (that we were hoping to copy at Gbiné) ran dry. It seems that too many corners were cut in it's construction so as the water table dropped in the dry season it fell below the depth of the well. To build a well at Gbiné when there is no well in Banana is not a good idea. The Bantu farmers would take it over from the Baka, who are not into confrontation and do not stop people taking what they want from them. However one of our supporters with a keen interest in the water project travelled to Gbiné anmd made a detailed study of the area to work out what will be the best means of securing clean water for the Baka. His report will be posted in due course.

All in all there have been a few setbacks this last year, but the work carries on and we continue to make a very real difference to the lives of the Baka at Gbiné.

Djimbo and Family
Djimbo and Family

The fundraising has been going well, and although we have not yet reached our target for building a well, we have been able to help fund emergency operations that have been needed in the Baka community.

Mbabelli needed to go to the hospital in Salapoumbé, and we were able to finance this as well as give some small funds to his aging father who stayed in the village so that he could buy food while his son was in hospital. Happily he is now fully recovered and back in the village. We have also enabled Djimbo to have a much needed hernia operation.

We have achieved sufficient funds to train a Baka midwife. Our contact in Cameroon who will be coordinating this has been on sabatical leave, but will be back by the end of this year. We are arranging a meeting with her in early January so that the training can be completed as soon as possible.

Communication with this area of Cameroon is hard from UK. Salapoumbe where the hospital is based has no phone network so we have to communicate through the nurse based in Moloundou who visits Salapoumbe about once every other week.  Most new initiatives commence when our field team are on the ground which happens once or twice a year. We haven't made a visit since starting the campaign with GlobalGiving, but the next will be in January 2014 when the projects on the ground will begin in earnest.

Mbabelli
Mbabelli

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Organization Information

Global Music Exchange

Location: Bath, Avon - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.1heart.org
Global Music Exchange
Martin  Cradick
Project Leader:
Martin Cradick
Bath, Somerset United Kingdom

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