What’s unique about the initiative?

Ten years of water privatization have affected about 43% of the Cameroonian population, with women and children bearing the brunt. In 2019, African Center for Advocacy (ACA) launched the «Keep Water in Public Hands» campaign with a coalition of civil society, media, unions and grassroots organisations to stop the corporate agenda of forcing the government to privatize water. This movement has contributed to stopping water privatization and to advancing the human right to water in Cameroon.

Most outstanding results

The conditions that prompted Cameroon to privatise the public water service in 2008 are once again multiplying on the ground. Between untimely water cuts, deterioration of installations and bad management practices, the public company (Camwater) which produces and distributes drinking water, is struggling to provide it in quantity and quality to an ever-growing population.

Back then, privatization was supposed to deliver improved infrastructure and lower prices — but neither materialized. Though the water was renationalized in 2018, numerous shortcomings continue to hamper the provision of clean water to the population.

In 2022, Camwater confessed its role in the drinking water crisis. According to the company, the episodic shortages observed in the capital are mainly linked to the numerous malfunctions of the Akomnyada water collection and treatment station, located 35 km east of the city. According to official figures, the demand for drinking water in Yaoundé and Mbalmayo, two towns supplied by the Akomnyada catchment station, is currently around 300,000 m3 per day.

Faced with the state’s “inability” to effectively provide public water service, the African Center for Advocacy (ACA) has increased lobbying, media advocacy as well as labour engagements to push for reduced taxes for any household that consumes less than 20 cubic meters of water per month. ACA has enjoined the national water distribution company to establish water pricing by categorizing the price per cubic meter of water by the type of customer. This greatly increased the number of low-income households connected to the water system. They are also monitoring privatization threats and pressing the government to invest on rehabilitation projects and taking responsibility.

The ACA will not give up its fight as long as the cloud of privatisation hangs over the water sector in Cameroon. Their goal is the recognition of the right to water in the Cameroonian constitution.

Quote from the evaluation committee

“This is a story of an effective effort to change the narrative about water privatization through a collective and coordinated communications campaign, bolstered by strong analysis, local and international alliances and a commitment to social justice.”

– Zoe Brent


To know more, read this in-depth article. Also, you can scroll down to download the application form filled by this initiative to take part in the Transformative Cities award.