Tuesday, 20. December 2011
The Forêt d’Anguédédou forest, a natural conservancy reserve, is endangered.
Abandoned wells, houses shooting up out of the ground like mushrooms, felled trees … the Forêt d’Anguédédou, a natural conservancy forest located between the Maison d’Arrêt et de Correction d’Abidjan, the largest prison of the economic hub on the Ivory Coast and the northern highway, is in the process of being destroyed. The situation is alarming. Illegal timber dealers are cutting down trees. Factories discharge their untreated waste water here, and economic actors from the real estate industry are building their homes here,“ is the bitter assessment of Maméry Koné, personal consultant to the Minister of Forestry.
In Anguédédou, a sense of powerlessness prevails among the ministry employees. They look on helplessly while this forest - which contains 13 wells and above all the ground water that supplies the greater portion of the metropolis of Abidjan - is being destroyed. “Without government support there’s nothing we can do,” says Koffi, one of the employees working in Anguédédou. On 11 June 2004, against all expectation, Assoa Adou, the Forestry Minister at the time, withdrew the forest’s nature conservancy status. Agricultural permits for producing foodstuffs were immediately issued for 400 hectares of the forest’s estimated total surface area of 7940 hectares. The rest is well-known … enormous harm to this forest.
“Instead of plants, houses have been shooting up out of the ground like mushrooms, even mobile phone operators’ antennae have been set up. Unfortunately, the people who were allocated the plots have simply re-sold them,” is the disappointed corroboration of Monsieur Touré, another ministry employee, adding that settlement in this protected forest is prohibited under any circumstances. He is concerned that: “The populace living there produces waste that collects in the soil and may very well contaminate the ground water that provides a major portion of Abidjan with drinking water.”
But the inhabitants do not feel in any way responsible. “We’re living on the grounds completely legally; it was allocated to us by the Ivory Coast State. And when we settled down here nobody told us that it’s bad for the ground water. The current problems aren’t our fault,” argues Romain Akou, who has been living in Anguédédou for six years.
According to environmental experts, the fact that these 400 hectares of the forest of Anguédédou are no longer under protection is the main reason behind the water shortage in Yopougon. In this populated area to the west of Abidjan, to which the Forêt d’Anguédédou also belongs, no more water has been coming out of the faucets of many families for many months now. Every morning, women carrying containers on their heads walk several kilometres to the “source of life.” Marie-Louise Sagbo, a cosmetologist who lives in Gesco, a neighbourhood of Yopougon, states: “To have a chance at getting water, you have to get up at four in the morning, walk a long time and position yourself in front of the pumps because of the huge crowds. It’s really torture.”
For Monsieur Touré, the water shortage in Yopougon is the result of the 400 hectares of the Forêt d’Anguédédou having been declassified. “Thirteen wells of the SODECI (Société de Distribution d’Eau de Côte d’Ivoire – Water Supply Company of the Ivory Coast) are located in this protected area and the environs. In the course of the exploitation of the 400 hectares by of the populace, the SODECI has shut down four wells that had run dry after the ground water level had sunk because rain water cannot seep down to raise the ground water level once again,” he explains.
In the face of this danger, the Minister of Forestry, Nabo Clément, has decided to go to the barricades. “Everybody living in forest areas will disappear. We will place the 400 hectares under protection once again,” he announced at the end of November following a visit to the Forêt d’Anguédédou, during which he confirmed the extent of the damage with his own eyes.
For your information: The Forêt d’Anguédédou was placed under protection by the colonial administration in accordance with Regulation Nr. 2314 A.G. At that time, the forest surface area was estimated at approx. 7940 hectares; today it is only 5065.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)