Home Institution

Pomona College

Publication Date

Fall 2014

Program Name

Cameroon: Social Pluralism and Development


By taking the water system in Melio-Baleveng, Cameroon as a case study for investigation, this paper explores the successes and challenges of community participation in water project development. Essential for life, and critical for the productivity of populations, potable water remains a scarce resource in developing countries. Facing a failure of government action and a dire need for potable water, the community of Melio partnered with the non-profit Breaking Ground in 2013 to realize a water project. A year after the project’s completion, water still flows from the fountains, but the project’s future remains uncertain as the impoverished community struggles to implement a system that regulates water use and provides fees for maintenance. The participation of the community in the project has succeeded in providing potable water that has the power to improve the welfare of the community, and in instilling a sense of ownership in community members that ensures their commitment to system maintenance. Yet, problems such as insufficient sensitization, weak organization, and rampant poverty endanger the sustainability of this project. This report analyzes the effectiveness of community participation on the development of the water system and identifies ways that the community-managed public good can continue to develop.


Natural Resources Management and Policy | Water Resource Management