Access to a reliable water resource can be a key driver for socio-economic development. Both physical and economic water scarcities are negatively affecting the economies of sub-Saharan African countries, particularly rural communities with the latter considered a crucial challenge. This paper examines the role of local resource users in river basin management for sustainable development in Northwest Cameroon. Using secondary data and empirical evidence collected from three rural districts (Mbengwi, Njinikom, and Ndu) in Northwest Cameroon, it is argued that the involvement and engagement of local resource users and community-based organisations in decision-making processes in river basin management can contribute to sustainable water supplies and enhance sustainable development. In the context of rural communities in the Northwestern part of Cameroon where water supply is mostly through gravity-led techniques, river basins are the main sources of community water supply. It is, therefore, argued in this paper that sustainable development will be possible through a polycentric water governance approach. Thus, clarifying issues of participation, integration, and jurisdiction between the stakeholders (central and local governments and community groups) is crucial for sustainable outcomes. Until the full participation and engagement of local groups and resource users in decision-making processes are achieved, uncertainty will dominate river basin management in Northwest Cameroon.
Part of the book: Achievements and Challenges of Integrated River Basin Management