Magic Sand of Belabo. A Flourishing Venture for Youths

The borough located 80 km from the capital of the East Region is renowned for its high quality sand. From the Sanaga River, it is conducive for sustainable construction. Its exploitation by the local population spares them from boredom and need.

Emmanuel NGOTA

The activity of sand diggers has taken a dazzling pace in Belabo since a few years, because of the growing demography in the city of Bertoua. Buildings grow from the ground, like mushrooms, and the demand for quality sand has increased and it is the unemployed youth who benefit the most. Luckily enough the Sanaga River flows pass this locality renown of its high quality making it possible for courageous youths to seize the opportunity for exploitation and the commercialization.

It is in this respect that hundreds of young people between the ages of 19 and 40, indigenous and non-indigenous, throw themselves into the cold waters of the Sanaga every day.
For exploitation to be effective, they use canoes made by hand, buckets and shovels, they dive deep and rise to the surface with sand that they first pour into the makeshift canoes. This exercise requires a lot of courage as you have to dive into the water, especially during this rainy season coupled by the high tide. To ease the work, the use to work in teams of three or four.

This activity fetches a lot of money to the sand diggers as one of them Metet Guy from Ebaka Village attests that he can earn more than 100 thousand FCFA per month. This no doubt permits him to feed his small family, send his children to school, guarantee their health as well as secures his future.

In order to better regulate and control the activity, these brave young people have formed a cooperative with rules and regulations well defined to each of the member which has obviously permitted them from avoiding unnecessary conflicts. Also this cooperative has put in place remuneration to be paid by divers, off loaders and carriers. Since the Sand Operators Cooperative came into being, all roles are now supervised and each of the partners is doing well, “said Samuel Mongo Tsoé, President of the Belabo Sand Operators Cooperative. As a reminder, a skip of 10 wheels and well loaded with sand from the Sanaga cost 200 thousand FCFA.
The activity is flourishing, even young students do not shy away from jumping into the field to prepare their back to school as confirmed by Bissoli Junior, 20 years old school of the University of Yaounde 2 who says he uses the money gotten from sand to assist his parents pays his university levies.

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