Issues At Stakes

Issues At Stake: Climate Change Reality In Yaounde: Cruel Rain, Scorching Sun

Yerima Kini Nsom

By Yerima Kini Nsom

For those who do not know the intricacies of the climate change phenomenon, Yaounde climate is simply wicked in its gruesome unpredictability. For, the transition from a romantic blue sky to a heavy stormy downpour is usually briefer than the blink of an eye. It does not really matter whether it is the rainy or the dry season. No sooner does the scorching sun blink to the shadows, than the heavens are led loose with a fury rain. For one thing, there is no guarantee that you will have rain all the time during the rainy season. The rains, in turn, equally violate the dry season at will. No doubt, Yaounde has witnessed torrential downpours even in the month of December.

More often, the sun breaks with scorching devastation, making complete nonsense of the rainy season for weeks. Sometimes it comes with gentle, chilly winds that crack lips and inflict diseases on humans in its vicious dryness. In this hide and seek, the rain retreats to the back burner and behaves as if it has capitulated to the sun. Only those who do not know the import of Yaounde’s cunning weather will take the rain for granted because it usually retreats to replenish its ammunition in the climate change war.

Yaounde inhabitants have created an enabling environment for the floods by inflicting so much ecological violence on their city. They block gutters and other waterways with refuse. They throw just anything into the gutters, including hard objects. Blocked gutters spill their mess into the public place to add the stinking corpus of our streets. Potholes widen to yawning craters as roads crack under the assault of floods.

A sunny, blue sky could just be the harbinger of a rumbling downpour that would wreak havoc all over town. When the rain comes, it comes with fury as if it is revenging the intruding nature of the sun. It comes with devastating thunder-storms that decapitate buildings, thereby, separating them from their roofs. In its raging feats of environmental terror, the rain uproots trees, littering the landscape with ruin and mayhem. Before you know it, Yaounde central town is submerged by raging floods. In fraternity with the rains, the river Mfoudi skips over its bed and leaves a mark of terror on Yaounde for days. Many neighbourhoods in Yaounde, including Mokolo, Lobi, Mvan, Emondo, are hard-hit by floods. The rain comes with its drowning effects in every measure.

Sometimes, Yaounde’s double standard weather simply frowns, betraying a cold war between the rain and the sun. It remains in its chilly and calm temperaments, which herald neither the rains nor the sun. Sometimes when the chips are down, the rain drizzles in majestic doses. As if to balance the equation, emergency sun rays will smile over the town for a while before disappearing into the large belly of the Atlantic Ocean. What else is climate change?

Yaounde inhabitants have created an enabling environment for the floods by inflicting so much ecological violence on their city. They block gutters and other waterways with refuse. They throw just anything into the gutters, including hard objects. Blocked gutters spill their mess into the public place to add the stinking corpus of our streets. Potholes widen to yawning craters as roads crack under the assault of floods. Yaounde inhabitants build houses across waterways, leaving rainwater with no other option than to go on rampage. Even town planning does not take draining issues seriously into consideration. To many Yaounde inhabitants, the rainy season is not only the restorer of the green lustre of agricultural fecundity. In stark juxtaposition, it is also a period of environmental cruelty, the harbinger of pain and sorrow. Thus, the months of heavy rains have become the months of fear and trepidation in the nation’s capital. 

So, which season is better? In its climate change logic, the dry season has turned demonic. The heat generated by the burning sun hits a direct chord unto our sweaty bodies. The full impact of the climate uncertainty is seen everywhere. One time big rivers shrink into small streams while many of them go on a very long journey or journey of no return, leaving visible voids on their beds. Despite the damaging situation, many Yaounde inhabitants have continued to behave as if the climate change phenomenon were a mere fictional tale. Greenhouse gas emission continues to conquer sane environmental behaviour. If you watch second hand cars emit columns of smokes from their exhaust pipes in Yaounde, you will know that climate has every reason to change.

Despite talk of encouraging Cameroonians to import new cars, Cameroon continues to be in the books as one of Europe’s dustbin. A majority of Cameroonians do not have the means to buy better cars from Europe or America; custom duty on cars his extremely high, especially when the cars are new. Besides, there is the heavy importation of other ozone-depleting substances. Thus, they relied on old and overused cars from the West.

Besides, logging companies have continued to inflict more damage in their deforestation exploits. There is still enormous illegal exploitation of our forest by certain outfits that care little about environmental impact assessment. They care little about issues of carbon sequestration. The environmental protection maxim that he who kills a tree kills a living thing and therefore authors an ecological bereavement, does not ring a deterring bell in the minds of these intruders. The devastating consequences of felling trees without replacing them are tellingly obvious because they are wind-breakers. Thus, storms now empty their rage on whatever lies on their way. The thinly-veiled soil bows to erosion.

Who does not know that these environmental felonies are responsible for the desert’s aggressive march towards the south? It is also a fact that our environment is a victim of industrial pollution. And industrial pollution that has gone unchecked is good fuel for climate change. Added to the vectors of environmental cruelty in Yaounde is garbage pollution. For garbage pollution remains prominent in its ubiquitous show of environmental violence. The fumes of toxic dumps are the mainstay of the atmosphere here. Smelly mountains of domestic waste are sprouting like mushrooms in many neighbourhoods in Yaounde. Workers of the company charged with the duty of cleaning the mess have been shirking this responsibility on account of claims that they are not being paid. But the authorities are usually fast in ordering the cleaning of the mess in certain streets only when some important visitors are coming to town. Once the visitor is gone, we go back to our filthy status. When Cameroon was about to host the Africa Nations Cup early this year, heaps of household waste were cleared away from certain areas.

The anarchy on the streets of Yaounde has taken environmental barbarism a notch higher. Some traders have occupied the streets, causing unnecessary traffic jams in town. Some people empty their bladders in the streets, which they litter without blinking. The traders who occupy the streets in many areas of the town were brutally chased away. Such traders who had invaded the streets at the Melen neighbourhood had several days of running battles with the police before capitulating later on when the police remained tenacious in achieving their goal. But as soon as the soccer competition ended, the police relaxed. The vendors are back there in full force, turning the streets into a full-fledged market. The garbage heaps are back. And HYSACAM workers are slow in clearing them.

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