The effects of industrial pollution on the environment with case study Bonaberi-Douala

Project Details

Sociology and Anthropology
Project ID
International: $20
No of pages
Quantitative Method
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
 MS Word & PDF

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The research discussed on industrial pollution and waste management in Cameroon with a case study in Bonaberi-Douala. The main objective of the research was to investigate how industrial pollution on the environment of Bonaberi has affected the livelihood and welfare of the inhabitants with the specific objectives including; to examine how the pattern of settlement around the Bonaberi industrial zone affected the general sanity of the environment and to access general ways of waste disposal and management by industries around the Bonaberi industrial zone and their working policies. The research made use of the combination of two methodologies which are the quantitative and qualitative methods so as to achieve the advantages of both in complementing each other by closing the gaps created by each, with the use of mostly questionnaires and a little interview. Based on the findings, 80% of the respondents proposed ill-health as an effect of industrial pollution with 10% contributing to odour and smell. Other effects identified by the respondents were the contamination of drinking water, soil infertility and global warming. 48% of the respondents suffer from malaria meanwhile 42% from typhoid.



1.1 Background to the Study

  In recent years, rapid urbanization has led to dense populations in the cities in Cameroon. As populations grow, the quality of the urban environment is increasingly playing an important role in public health welfare of the society regarding a variety of issues including sustainable provision of safe water, proper sanitation and waste disposal.

  Urbanization according to World Health Organization, (W.H.O). (2012) the report is a global trend whereby urban areas are viewed as places that provide opportunities for individuals and families to live a better life, and also provide a healthy living environment through enhanced access to essential services. In many developing countries, population growth and urbanization have outpaced infrastructural development and responsible management of the environment. Population growth in cities has resulted in the generation of large volumes of waste linked to industrialization and urbanization. However, most cities in developing countries do not have the capacity for efficient waste collection and management thereby leading to improper disposal of solid waste and resultant land pollution.

  According to the World Health Organization (2013) report, rapid, unplanned and unsustainable approaches to urban development are making cities in developing countries key focal points for emerging environmental health hazards. Some of the health challenges associated with urbanization are related to water and the environment, including land pollution. Urban authorities, therefore, need to be vigilant with regards to monitoring, prevention and control of health risks and hazards associated with land pollution.

  Nathanson (2013) explains land pollution as the deposition of solid or liquid waste materials on land or underground in a manner that can contaminate the soil and groundwater, threaten public health and cause unsightly conditions and nuisances. It reduces the quality of land and its productivity for agriculture, forestation and construction purposes and also leads to many health hazards. Global efforts to reduce land pollution have been discussed together with other environmental problems in various United Nations conferences and fora including the United Nations Environmental Programme, Earth Summit, Agenda 21, Rio + 20, Convention to Combat Desertification and others.

Pollution of the environment dates far back as the Stone Age when the fire was invented. Archaeological evidence has been given by some Archaeologists who have found the soot, left from the fires, on the ceiling of caves. But this was not serious as it hardly at that time affected the surrounding ecosystem. Later in the 13th Century, people started to realize that the amount of smoke surrounding them was increasing and it was first then that the people acknowledged pollution in the environment.

  The term Pollution originated between1350-1400 from the Latin word “Pollutio” which means defilement. Pollution is the introduction of harmful substances or products to the environment or the “introduction of contaminants or toxicants into the natural environment that causes adverse change”. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, noise, heat or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants. It has been realized that the word “pollution” concerns everybody and people need to hear about it because it concerns them, even though some ignore. Pollution occurs when something or any substance, which doesn’t naturally belong to an ecosystem if introduced into it. The foreign substance introduced into the environment which causes pollution is called a pollutant. As the concentration of the pollutant increases in the environment, the intensity of pollution also increases. Pollution is mostly caused by human actions, but in some cases may be caused by natural disasters. It is highly detrimental to all living things on our planet, and even though it is detrimental, it is still ignored in many places around the world.

  Industrial pollution attracts both intense regulatory attention and periodically, public anxiety and concern. Many industrial installations are a source of a diverse range of pollutants leading to potentially significant but disputed health impacts (Bhopal et al 1998, Pless-Mulloli et al 1998, Dunn and Kingham 1996). When set alongside other negative impacts such as noise, odour and in some cases, stigmatization of both places and local people, we will realize that industrial sites may become a significant burden on our communities. This burden often fails to be compensated by the economic benefits of these companies after their polluting activities.

Located on the Atlantic coastline of the Republic of Cameroon, the Douala-Bonaberi Industrial Zone enjoyed and still enjoys the fastest rate of urbanization in the country. A total of about 236 major manufacturing industries are located along the coast of Cameroon. Among them, over 90% are located in the Douala-Bonaberi Industrial Zone. These industries include food processing, textiles and accessories, electricity, water and gas, mechanical and electrical appliances, chemical and mining, building and transport material, paper and pulp, wood processing, agro-industrial and diverse manufacturing plants. Rapid expansion in the industrial zone has provoked certain observable environmental problems on the lagoon complex and the wetland.

The effects are impaired water quality in the contamination of surface and groundwater sources, public health hazards, wetland loss, subsidence, flooding, etc. Industrial pollutants such as lead, cadmium, mercury, aluminium, etc. that springs from industrial actions on the coast of Cameroon seems to have inflicted a wide range of problems and predicaments to security, health and environmental excellence. Streams that flow from the Bassa Industrial Zone into the Atlantic Ocean, on the coast of Cameroon, are highly polluted. Fongwe et al (2000) stated that the coastal layout listed the highest grade of aluminium contamination in Cameroon in the month of May and June in the year 2000. Researchers discovered that aluminium waste contributed a greater part to the infections people had in this industrial zone.

Coastal activities such as industry, agriculture, sand mining, coastal urbanization, deforestation, etc., have altered the natural conditions and processes, degrading coastal resources and habitats. The effect has serious socio-economic consequences. Environmentalists have since publicized the worsening state of pollution in the city of Douala and its environment. The experts say this is due to the increasing concentration of industrial plants and poor handling of industrial wastes especially by petroleum companies that deal with petroleum, plastics, metals and chemical products. In alliance with global agencies and non-governmental groups, Cameroon has taken significant initiatives to curb industrial pollution.

Demographic explosion, poor waste management and the ever-declining margin between industrial zones and inhabited areas have caused severe coastal, environmental and societal issues. Although household waste plays an important role in pollution, there is sufficient indication that industrial waste alone is estimated at about 2187 metric tons per year in biochemical oxygen demand, with a corresponding 48000 metric tons per year in suspended solid in Cameroon’s coastline cosmopolitan of Douala alone (Fongwe et al, 2000).

Uncontrolled urbanization by the government and poor waste management systems by corporations has resulted to water, air and land depreciation in Douala. Heavy industrial water users produce large quantities of wastes products and they rely on watercourses to dispose of the wastes. Most industries operating in Douala discharge untreated and toxic effluents directly on open residential lands and into canals, streams, and rivers that end up causing widespread deterioration in the water quality and the health of the coastal ecosystem. Coastal and upstream non-point sources of pollution from agricultural and hazardous waste sites constitute sources of contamination of both surface and groundwater sources.

Marine pollution, on the coast of Douala, is very complex in nature. It which stems from land wastes, oil spills, sewage water, invasive species and metal wastes from mines. The oil spills come from the National Corporation for Petroleum Storage and Distribution Hydrocarbon plants located on the coasts, and factories located in the Douala and Bonaberi straits. Millions of tons of fossil fuel waste, oil and other wastes are discharged from ships into the sea and ocean on a daily basis. As regards to the industrial pollution along the coastline of Cameroon, the primary concern is that the high level of industrialization of the city of Douala and its environs, with the inevitable generation of industrial effluents, might lead to severe biological consequences in the coastal aquatic environment.


As a result of an increase in population in other parts of Douala, like Bonamousadi, Makepe, Bepanda, Bonaprizo and also the desire to gain little parcels of land to cultivate domestic crops motivated people to locate to Bonaberi which was initially an industrial zone, harbouring industries like Mayor, Telca cocoa, Alpicam, Cimencam, La pasta, Nestle, Isembek and OK foods, thus leading to the problem of industrial pollution in the environment.

  Industrial pollution jeopardizes the welfare and wellbeing of the environment (physical and social). Since the environment is the only setup where the society interacts, it is necessary to adopt appropriate ways to manage pollutants from these industries, in order to improve the welfare and wellbeing of the population living in these areas. This is because pollution in industrial areas poses a serious threat to the environment; For example; contamination of air, portable water and water bodies like streams and rivers, degradation of agricultural land, reduction of audibility by noise from machines, among others all negatively affect people living in such areas. Prior to adequate management of pollution to guarantee the welfare and wellbeing of the environment, it will be necessary to know; the reason for the unhealthy environment in Bonaber-Douala, types of pollutants, diseases caused by pollution and control measures of pollution for a healthy society.


1.3.1 Main Question

How has industrial pollution on the environment of Bonaberi-Douala affected the livelihood and welfare of the inhabitants?

1.3.2 Specific Questions

  • How has the pattern of settlement of Bonaberi affected the general sanity of the environment?
  • How do industries Bonaberi dispose and manage their wastes and what are their working policies?


  • Industrial pollution is very harmful to the community of Bonaberi as it accounts for more than 80% of all air and land borne diseases in the environment.
  • Recycling of waste can serve as a remedy for pollution so as to avoid the improper dumping of waste products in the environment.


1.5.1 Main Objective

  • To investigate how industrial pollution on the environment of Bonaberi-Douala has affected the livelihood and welfare of the inhabitants

1.5.2 Specific Objectives

  • To examine how the pattern of settlement around the Bonaberi industrial zone has affected the sanity of the environment.
  • To access the general ways of waste disposal and management by industries around the Bonaberi industrial zone and their working policies
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