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Enhancing resilience against floods in the Lower Motowoh community, Limbe, Southwest Cameroon

Gaston Buh Wung (Geotechnology, Environmental Assessment and Disaster Risk Reduction (GEADIRR), Limbe, Cameroon)
Festus Tongwa Aka (Institute for Geological and Mining Research, Yaoundé, Cameroon and GEADIRR, Limbe, Cameroon)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 20 August 2018

Issue publication date: 22 January 2019




Floods and landslide threats were addressed under the Frontline process in the city of Limbe, Southwestern Cameroon. The purpose of this paper is to present actions undertaken through building local community resilience to floods which are a major threat in the city, with impacts on the local community ranging from death to complete destruction of services and livelihoods.


The actions carried out were informed by the GNDR-supported Frontline survey conducted in 2015 in which the Lower Motowoh community rated floods as an important threat. A series of reflection and learning sessions with the community members was carried out to better understand the problem. Scoping studies on the causes and extent of floods along river Njengele were undertaken by GEADIRR and the community team.


The findings of this paper indicated that the main problem resulted from river channel blockage caused by indiscriminate dumping of refuse into the waterway and sediment deposition from upstream. Further reflection and action planning led to preparatory meetings between GEADIRR and ten community leaders. The unanimous action adopted was to dredge the river. Dredging was carried out in late April and early May of 2016 using a hired bulldozer.

Social implications

Follow-up shows that after many years of misery from floods, often associated with the loss of loved ones and property, about 500 community residents who benefited from the action did not go through this dreadful ordeal again during the rains of 2016 and 2017. People are currently rebuilding on the reclaimed land which was previously abandoned due to flooding.


Current challenges include changing the mindset of community members about the adverse effects of indiscriminate dumping of household waste into the waterway. It was also a big challenge convincing some members of the community who felt that floods are a natural phenomenon unstoppable by man.



The authors thank GNDR, especially Marcus Oxley for his strategic management of the network, Stu Solomon and Lucy Pearson for their valuable guidance during the Frontline. Special gratitude to the ten members who constituted community leadership in Lower Motowoh and facilitated the authors’ engagement with the community. The authors thank Development Workshop France (J. Norton and C. Gordon), and Inventing Futures (T. Gibson), for inviting the authors to the Kathmandu (Nepal, October 2017) workshop on “Local Voices and Action.”


Wung, G.B. and Tongwa Aka, F. (2019), "Enhancing resilience against floods in the Lower Motowoh community, Limbe, Southwest Cameroon", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 76-83.



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