In 2012, Northern Cameroon received exceptionally high rainfall, which caused floods in the North and Far North regions. In the Far North region where poverty was already high, the floods caused substantial damages to the hydraulic infrastructure, further weakening the Maga dam. It was estimated that a potential dam failure would have flooded about 150 km² and put at risk around 120,000 local people. The rains and subsequent floods also caused substantial damages to the irrigation infrastructure of Société d’Expansion et Modernisation de la Riziculture de Yagoua (SEMRY) and destroyed more than 25km of the Logone dyke. Approximately 60,000 people (1,222 families in the Maga district and 9,025 families in the Logone and Chari district) were affected.
The Flood Emergency Project of $108 million focused on protecting the local people through fixing key hydraulic infrastructure. Multiple innovative solutions helped in the implementation of the project, for example, all resettlement action plans were implemented step-by-step (instead of the usual all-at-once approach) all along the 70 km of the Logone dyke. An effective grievance redress mechanism was in place, which helped receive and address concerns efficiently. As a result, these major works in an area where over 150,000 people live did not cause major or unsolvable grievances from local communities. Additionally, traditional and religious leaders who play a key role in the society in the Far North region, participated in the supervision aspect of the project. It helped communities take ownership of the rehabilitated infrastructures.
- The project upgraded a 70km flood dyke along the Logone River and 27km of the Maga dam, which helped protect local communities from floods. It also rehabilitated the irrigation bulk-water infrastructure, including some intakes, main canals and secondary canals. It helped ensure reliable and adequate bulk water supply for irrigation. All works were concluded in 2018-2019.
- Approximately 30 percent of downstream irrigation infrastructure was further rehabilitated.
- Around 103,000 people directly benefited from the project including: the rice farmers' families, resettled families, the jobs generated by the works, the families benefiting from water supply thanks to the construction of water boreholes, members of local crisis management committees, and people trained in disaster preparedness and emergency management, etc.
- A contingency plan against floods was prepared and disseminated. It successfully stood the test during floods in 2019.
- A network on the Logone basin in Chad and Cameroon helped improve meteorological data collection in close coordination with the Commission du bassin du lac Tchad.
- Over the life of the project, which was conceived due to an emergency situation, private sector increased its participation. It helped pave the road for future private sector participation and financing the sector.
- The project helped create and consolidate eight water user associations, which now have offices and equipment to maintain tertiary canals.
World Bank Group Contribution
International Development Association (IDA) financing for the project was $108 million. Various trust funds, such as the Global Water and Sanitation Program and the Water Expert Facility, supported implementation and provided multiple experts.
The Flood Emergency Project was implemented in close coordination with the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Under a twinning arrangement the Société Nationale d’Aménagement et d'Exploitation des Terres du Delta du Fleuve Sénégal (SAED) provided its experience in restructuring parastatal institutions to allow private sector participation. The Lake Chad Basin Commission contributed to improve regional water resources management. In addition, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) introduced new agricultural technologies, for example precise leveling that helped improve yields of rice
This project has set the path for a series of projects in the northern regions of Cameroon. Two projects to be financed by IDA are now ongoing, they are focusing on the improvement of farmers’ livelihoods. The Valorization of Investments in the Valley of the Benue project was recently approved, and the Valorization of Investments in the Valley of the Logone is in preparation.
Since 2018, more than 100,000 people who live on the Logone floodplains no longer fear floods and feel secure, thanks to the rehabilitation of Maga dam and Logone dyke. The rehabilitation of irrigation schemes helped local communities increase their revenues, pay school and health care fees, and overall improve their livelihood.
Suzanne is a rice farmer and lives in the village called Djogoidi located in the Far North region of Cameroon. The house she lived in with her family was approximately 50 meters away from the Logone river. Every year, during the two months of rainfall this region witnesses, she as well as the people in her village were living in fear of the flood and what could happen to them if they lost their houses, their herds. Thanks to the project, Suzanne and most of her neighbors, who like her lived near the river, have been resettled into upgraded houses. “With the rehabilitation of the dykes and the resettlement into houses built with cinder blocks, we can now sleep in peace and are not afraid of the heavy rains anymore. My family is safe, my herd is safe and my rice field is secure now.”