Sustainable Agriculture for the Water Catchment Protection Area in Ntisaw, Cameroon

EPA Grant Number: SU834778
Title: Sustainable Agriculture for the Water Catchment Protection Area in Ntisaw, Cameroon
Investigators: Mariñas, Benito J. , Cooke, Richard , Laubach, Parker , Long, Kenneth , Stojak, Janina
Current Investigators: Mariñas, Benito J. , Gall, Aimee , Litchfield, Bruce , Long, Kenneth , Rehn, Andrew , Straub, Anthony
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The technical challenge our team faces is to find an efficient method to improve the quality of water from the spring catchment and provide a sustainable agriculture system in order to both protect the catchment and to induce economic activity. E. coli contamination, caused by local cattle grazing in the spring catchment area, has caused some illness in the village. Thus, we believe catchment protection is vital to preserve the health of the community by fencing off the grazing livestock. By better understanding the ecology and organizational structure of the spring water catchment protection, the space can be converted into a sustainable agricultural field that will provide needed sustenance for the community and enhance the protection of the spring. This area would be farmed without the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, instead promoting water treatment through the natural ecosystem. Our previous research and calculations show that providing an improved agro-ecosystem near the spring source will reduce runoff, slow erosion and therefore reduce critical soil loss and translocation of contaminants.


The approach that is being taken is a synergistic one; by promoting a system of sustainable agriculture and water source protection, we also promote economic advantages such as job creation. Broader impact of this research is that if this can be shown to work successfully in Ntisaw, it can be promoted as a model for development in other villages of Cameroon and throughout the developing world. Initially, a live fence will be planted consisting of native trees and shrubs that fix nitrogen in the soil. In the agricultural section of the catchment protection area, polyculture will be used, a system in which more than one species of plant is grown in the same area. Each plant will use nutrients, and each will give back different nutrients, preserving the integrity of the soil, and sustainability of agriculture.

Expected Results:

We expect that the catchment area will increase food output for the community in addition to preserving the water source. Increased food output will benefit needy residents and allow them to focus more on education and economic development. Additionally, an area of sustainable agriculture will provide incentive for villagers to maintain the catchment area.

Supplemental Keywords:

Sustainable agriculture, water catchment protection, spring catchment, polyculture, permaculture,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report