Aims: The research work is aimed at evaluating the land base source of River pollution using a waste characterisation study in the Yabassi municipality in order to design strategies for mitigating pollution of the Nkam River.
Study Design: A household survey involving random sampling of 45 households in three residential neighbourhoods (Banya, Ndogbele and the Administrative Centre) to determine their socioeconomic status. Of a total of 117 participants, 45 (44.0%) lived in Banya, 30 (34.2%) in Ndogbele and 25 (24.8%) in the Administrative Centre.
Place and Duration of Study: Yabassi Municipality involving three residential neighbourhoods (Banya, Ndogbele and the Administrative Centre) between February and July 2017.
Methodology: Household surveys involving three residential neighbourhoods (Banya, Ndogbele and the Administrative Centre) in the Yabassi municipality was carried out to identify individuals belonging to the three socio-economic income classes (low, medium and high). A questionnaire was administered to 117 persons randomly selected from 45 households i.e. 15 from each of the three residential neighbourhoods to participate in a two weeks waste characterisation study. The waste produced by the participating households was sorted manually at the source, weighed using a mechanical balance and classified into 6 categories: organic materials, plastic bags and bottles, glass, textile, metal, cardboard and paper. Participant observation and participatory appraisal methods were used throughout the field study to make acquaintances with the household structure and informal structure, evaluate the performance of waste collection, disposal and treatment methods in the low, medium and high residential areas, identify constraints faced by households in the collection and disposal of wastes. Make a direct observation and visual evaluation of clandestine garbage dumps near the Nkam River to identify land based pollutants.
Results: The 117 persons randomly selected from 45 households in the Yabassi municipality produced 709, 5 kg of solid waste in two weeks that gave a per capita waste generation rate (kg/persons/day) of 0.43 kg per day. The average percentage composition of the household waste in the three residential neighbourhoods showed organic waste material as the most dominant waste fraction (Banya 70%, Ndogbele 63.8% and the Administrative Center 19.9%). The large quantity of organic waste material in Banya and Ndogbele can be explained by its large populations, their socioeconomic status classified as low and medium respectively with a majority of the inhabitants involved in agriculture and fishing. In general lifestyle and culture is greatly influenced by socio-economic activities (agriculture and fishing) of the inhabitants of Banya and Ndogbele with major influence on their feeding habits with cassava, plantains, fish and green vegetables being the stable foodstuffs. The small quantity of organic waste material (19,9%) in the Administrative Center was due to the low population, the high socioeconomic status (civil servants and economic operators). The large quantity of recyclables e.g. metal (44%), plastic bag, glass (17%) and bottles (12,2%) could be linked to the increase in consumption orientated lifestyles and qualitative change in consumer goods in Cameroon. Metal, paper and carton have a high correlation between them and because it is an important to source of income in a developing country like Cameroon, municipal authorities and policy makers must carry out reforms in the waste management sector by creating recycling industries.
Conclusion: Given the increasing population of Yabassi, there is the qualitative and quantitative increase of household waste with the likelihood of it being clandestinely dumped in Nkam River. The results of this study will provide the municipal authorities with the strategies and tools for mitigating such land based pollutants moving into the Nkam River which has always provided basic amenities in terms of drinking water and a source of livelihood for the predominantly agrarian and fishing populations. Some mitigation measures to be adopted should include identification of pollution sources and the obligatory use of plastic bags and refuse bins for the collection and disposal of household waste and containers for the storage of household waste until they are collected by the local authorities. In addition intensive community education on ocean literacy and awareness raising regarding waste management best practices is carried out.