Sanaga: A very solicited River.

Sanaga: A very solicited River.

Marlène Ngansop, Preacious Forbi & Jean-Paul Ghogue.

Green Connexion (May 04th, 2017)


Localization of River Sanaga in Cameroon. Source: Wikipedia


The Sanaga watershed, evaluated at 133.000 km2, occupies the Central part of Cameroon in the forest-savannah contact zone and is located between
latitudes N3o22and N7o22’, and longitudes E 9o45’ and E 14°57’ (Kpoumié et al., 2012). From its main sources on the Adamawa plateau to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, the Sanaga River flows through four regions of Cameroon namely: the Adamawa, East, Centre and Littoral.


The Sanaga River covers a distance of about 920 km from its source to the Gulf of Guinea with a rate of flow of about 2200 – 3200 m3/s during the high rainy season. Three main divisions are distinguished in the river namely: the upper Sanaga dominated by the Djerem River in Adamawa; the middle Sanaga represented by the Mbam River which originates from the Western Highlands and joins the Sanaga some 80 km upstream from the mouth of the river; and the lower Sanaga which is the lower part after the Edea hydroelectric dam right to the Atlantic Ocean. Several small rivers in the Sanaga basin are tributary to the Sanaga River.  The river is rich in waterfalls and rapids. The water bed is rocky in most parts with huge deposits of sand.

A very solicited river

Several activities take places in the Sanaga river:

Fishing. The reservoirs are over-fished, often by fishermen originating from other parts of the country and neighbouring countries. In fact fishing is not the main activity of local people of the area. They mostly need the river and its associated wetlands for domestic use and as source of fertilizer for their lands during floods.

Fisherman and children at the shore of Sanaga River (photo@green Connexion).

Sand collection at the shore of the river


Sand extraction is the most lucrative activities in the Sanaga river basin. Many thousands of “sand fishermen” as they are called can be seen daily diving all along the river, or driving heavy canoes filled with sand or loading lorrys. Many hundreds of lorrys can then be loaded every day on the river’s shore. Adults as well as children take part in this activity.


Because of its important rate of flow, the river is very solicited for dam construction. In fact, throughout the river basin, two types of dams areconstructed: Hydroelectric dams for direct electricity production (Edea, Song Loulou) and  detention dams to regulate the flow rate of water in the Sanaga River (Mbakaou, Bamendjin, Mapé and Lom-Pangar). The construction of the Nachtigal dam will start soon while many other dams are planned for this same river.

Edea hydroelectric dam. Photo@ Green Connexion

Nachtigal rapids on the Sanaga River. Photo@Green Connexion





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