Awareness-raising and communication project for health protection and environmental sanitation in Ayené
The Clean City project benefits the Ayené community (10,000 inhabitants) in the district of Yaoundé IV, in the capital of Cameroon. This community is the home of most students living close to the University campus (UCAC). Its population is mainly of young people and women. Characterised by a high population density, it presents significant urban development issues derived from the anarchic distribution of its population. The lack of urban planning resulted in social, environmental and ecological problems. In addition to the risks of flooding, which can lead to cholera epidemics and malaria outbreaks in unsanitary scenarios, there is pollution of canals and lack of drainage, inadequate waste treatment, and insecurity due to insufficient lighting.
It is a hyperactive suburban community where the company in charge of household waste collection failed to address their needs. As a result, household rubbish was piling up along the neighbourhood alleys. More than 80% of the patients at the university clinic suffered from malaria, so the project started as a response to the alarm raised by the student population.
The students of the Community Social Responsibility and Social Doctrine of the Church courses volunteered to raise awareness among the population through meetings, door-to-door surveys, posters, banners, interviews with street vendors and community leaders, among others, as well as conducting environmental day conferences and safety paths in the community.
The knowledge of the communication and expression matrix for mass communication and participatory action research enabled the students to apply the vision of the Social Doctrine of the Church on the care of our common home, inspired by the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (Francis, 2015).
Based on the results of the participatory diagnosis, they planned and carried out actions to raise awareness, communicate, organise and find, together with the community, the most effective means to transform their lifestyle with long-lasting solutions. Then they shared them with the local authorities in public hearings organised for this purpose.
As a result, the waste is collected promptly, and the neighbourhood has regained its former splendour.