A new landslide has just caused the death of 15 people in Yaoundé, Cameroon. This is the fourth such tragedy in four years. In order to stop this increase in landslides, scientists and members of civil society are calling on the Cameroonian government to act against several causes, including deforestation.
A landslide occurred on Sunday 27 November 2022 in the Damas district, on the south-western outskirts of Yaoundé in Cameroon. The latest death toll was 15 and several injured, according to official figures.
In October of the same year, another landslide occurred in the same city, in the Mimboman district, killing three people. A similar tragedy occurred in August 2021 in the town of Foumban, killing a father and his two children. This series of events brings to mind another similar incident that occurred in 2019 in the town of Bafoussam, killing nearly 43 people.
Deforestation, among the causes
“For now, it is quite difficult to give the exact cause of such incidents, but we can consider some important anthropogenic factors as the cause of this incident, including the cutting of slopes for construction which leads to instability, as in the cases of Bafoussam and Mbonj. Extensive deforestation, agriculture and uncontrolled urbanisation must also be taken into account,” explain Nchini Livinus Wayih and Teshounkong Agendia, researchers in slope stability and dynamics and risk assessment at the University of Buea in south-west Cameroon.
For civil society, the authorities must act urgently. “The government should take concrete action to prevent this type of incident in order to protect the right to life of the population, for which it is the primary guarantor. The governor of the Centre region acknowledged during his visit to the site that the area was very dangerous. In addition to this recognition, it would be good to identify the exact causes of these tragedies that have become recurrent in our country in order to limit the damage in the years to come, because prevention is always better than cure,” says Stella Tchoukep, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Africa.
According to the European Union, Cameroon loses three times the area of its capital Yaoundé (183 km²) in forest every year. This situation increases the impact of climate change on biodiversity, socio-economic activities and populations.