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B’da: Sesia Earmarked for Major Urban Upgrading

Bamenda City

Bamenda City

Sesia Quarter in the Bamenda III municipality has been earmarked for major upgrading under the project “Participatory Slum Upgrading Program” known by the acronym, PSUP.

A two day workshop to that effect took place at the Ntamulung Church Centre Bamenda from the 18 to 19 of September with the objective to exchange, debate and carryout free expression with the stake holders, identify common strategies in the prevention of more slums developing and to propose resources mobilization strategies to sustainably improve Sesia Quarter in Bamenda.

Northwest Governor while opening the workshop said the objectives of the program falls in line with government’s resolve to combat poverty and better the living condition of its citizen and called on the participants to come up with strategies not only to improve the lively hood of the people of Sesia but that can be use to improve on other slums in the country.

According to Mr. Takoungang Siplaint, coordinator of the Urban Governance Program under the ministry of Urban Development and Housing, the PSUP is a participatory program that involves resident s of the slums having a say in the way access, development, housing and living conditions can be improved.  “We are trying to empower the population of these slums to assist in developing what is their need and use their knowledge of the terrain in developing what could be a solution to their needs.” He said.

This approach he said is a contrast to that of years gone which was a top-down approach and has been developed by the  UN-Habitat in line with the slogan “whatever you are doing for me without me is against me”

When fully implemented, PSUP will greatly improve on the livelihood of the people and the outlook of the area, transforming the slum into a suburban area with access roads, electricity, water and modern building.  Vincent Ndumu Nji, Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council said the project simply entails improving various aspects on the life of the people of the targeted area in partnership with the population. He cited the example of Old Town Bamenda where government simply tarred the roads and the population has followed up to improve on their housing conditions and standard of living.

He however said that contrary to erroneous believe, the project does not take into account Upper Sesia which is a risk zone and will remain a risk zone, but will take into consideration Lower Sesia, an area with over 17 000 inhabitants.

Mr Njita Joseph, a town planner and worker with ERA-Cameroun, the execution partner of the project thinks there are several hurdles to overcome before they reach their target. The people of Sesia he said are still to understand, appreciate, accept and appropriate the program because for over 30 years the population of the area has regarded itself as excluded from mainstream development since the area was regarded as high risk zone.

Meanwhile the people of Sesia have welcomed the moved and are prepared to contribute towards the realization of the project. The Quarter Head, Chop Samuel is already dreaming of a modern Sesia, referring to the future Sesis as “Petit Paris” and has pledged the collaboration of the people towards the realization of the project.

The Participatory Slum Upgrading Program  is an initiative of UN-Habitat in partnership with the European Union Commission and the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) and intends to assure a sustainable environment, reduce the number of slum dwellers without portable drinking water, reduce poverty for some 100 million slum dwellers by 2020, improve sanitation, urban governance, durable housing amongst others.

The first phase of the project includes some 18 countries, five of which are in Africa, including Cameroon. 23 towns in Cameroon took part in the profile studies which is the first of the three phased project.

The Urban Profile of Bamenda was realized in between 2004 and 2005. Bamenda which is in the second phase now saw the situation analysis of  Sesia slum area, examination of the policy and regulatory framework, slum upgrading and prevention strategy, resource mobilization for slum upgrading and prevention and the preparation of concepts notes  while validating previous reports under this phase.

The third phase will be the project realization and will consist of searching for funding and the implementation of the identified improvement actions. The Nkolbikok neighbourhood in Yaoundé, one of the project sites entered this phase in 2014.

By Abongwa Fozo.