Local support tackles drought

Water spouting from one of the successful drillings in Gamboura, Cameroon.
Water spouting from one of the successful drillings in Gamboura, Cameroon.

The generosity of people in St Andrews and wider north east Fife - and the international Rotary Club movement - has helped a remote village in Africa escape the worst effects of drought.

Back in 2010, a pastor from the village of Gamboura, in the far north of Cameroon, made a desperate plea to a contact in St Andrews looking for support.

The village of 12,000 people had a serious drought problem - during the dry season from October to June the population had access to only three wells, which meant walking for miles every day in heat up to 50 degrees centigrade.

Only a few miles from the border with Nigeria, Gamboura has also had a huge increase in refugees fleeing the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Retired GP Hamish Tait, from the Rotary Club of St Andrews, had previously done voluntary work in Cameroon, volunteered and the club funded an exploratory visit and site report in 2012, which recommended the sinking of at least five boreholes at a cost of £50,000.

The club knew if it raised £10,000 it could apply for a Global Rotary Grant for the remainder. St Andrews managed to raise £6000 and then other Rotary Clubs in Anstruther, Alloa, Callendar, Crieff, Dundee, Dunfermline, Carnegie, Kirkcaldy Raith and Leven stepped in to help reach the target in December 2014.

Working in partnership with the Rotary Club of Maroua. the regional capital in Cameroon - St Andrews oversaw the project, which resulted in six boreholes being sunk in May. A local committee has been set up to manage the wells, technicians have been trained in basic maintenance and the villages received health and hygiene training.

“Thanks to the support of the people of St Andrews, we were able to kick start the funding,” said a spokesperson for the St Andrews Club. “Several other clubs came on board with contributions and the role of Rotary’s Foundation was key. Finally, the ability to work in partnership with Rotarians in another part of the world meant we could be certain the funds would be used purely for the project.”