Sunday, July 12, 2015


Yesterday, I came to Bamenda in Anglophone
Cameroon to attend the Advanced Trauma Healing seminar.  It was raining as we left Yaoundé (in an old rented 19 passenger van with 14 people).  The seal around the window next to me was loose so some water dripped onto the seat beside me (and eventually on me…).  For these (and probably other) reasons I have been thinking a lot about the rain water that falls and where it goes.

We know that people build bridges over rivers and streams so that they can walk and drive more easily.  And, there’s obviously more water in the stream/river during the rainy season.  When we were in Bouar in June, I walked to see the new bridge that was just opened.  (In fact, the opening ceremony was Friday morning (while we were in other meetings.)  The builders created a channel for the stream that was lined with stones and concrete.  The bridge itself was also very sturdy-looking.  What struck me most, though, when I saw it Friday afternoon, was the mud just before the bridge.  I am sure that the dirt road was leveled after the bridge was built.  But, after a couple of hard rains, a HUGE area taking up most of the road had already become rutted and muddy, making it difficult for cars and trucks to pass.  Motorcycles have an easier time, but only if there are not motorcycles coming from both directions at once! 

Of course, not all bridges are well built – or well-maintained.  I remember driving to a school on a back road in CAR in 2012 when one of the Village School Program team members got out of the truck to go jump on the boards on the “bridge” to be sure we could cross with the truck! Here’s another “bridge” in CAR that was in serious need of improvement in 2012.  I imagine that it is worse now. 

So where does (or should) rain water go after it falls?  Road engineers I know plan to have it run to the sides. Some roads in CAR and Cameroon have paved (or unpaved) ditches built to catch the water.  Here are some run-off ditches – with a variety of “bridges” so that people can cross them to get to their houses. 

Not all roads are built with a slope that takes water off the road.  When the roads are dirt – not paved – that means that ruts infest the road and driving is difficult – even treacherous when it is raining and the dirt becomes slick mud. Local people sometimes try to fill the holes/ruts with logs, rocks, grass, and then dirt (all in an attempt to keep the road level and the water running off somewhere else).

While still in Yaoundé I was talking to a taxi driver one day about the number of people trying to cross busy streets.  There are street lights, but as in the US, some people in a hurry to cross, don’t pay much attention to the light and begin to cross as the light turns green for cars.  This driver recommended that the city build a pedestrian bridge.  Yes, good idea.  We have them some places in the US, but even then, people in a hurry and unwilling to walk a few extra steps, want to ignore them and just cross the street – even with all the traffic.  Do you use a pedestrian bridge when it is available? 

I hear Pennsylvania has been having torrential rains and lots of precipitation – like the rainy season here!  Have you paid attention to where all that rain water goes?  Maybe it is time to pay attention to details! 

Wishing you blue sky or at least clear sailing – with or without rain.

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