The Government of Cameroon's lack of priority for rural water supply has motivated rural communities to harness their internal capacity and networks for self-help community water supply projects. The emerging paradigm of joint water supply projects between communities in rural Cameroon and large corporations, with both parties as principal beneficiaries (unlike self-help projects where the principal beneficiary is the community), is examined. Our findings, based on the Mautu community and the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) joint project, suggest that this paradigm can be an attractive alternative for rural communities to gain access to piped water systems. However, to ensure long term performance of the rural community's distribution network, the more experienced corporate partner should negotiate a fair agreement, integrate capacity building for operation and maintenance, and include future growth and increased demand in the design of the community's network. Significant inequity during design of the supply to the two partners can lead to the dysfunction of the community system and trigger the perception of profiteering by the corporate partner resulting in subsequent vandalism. It is recommended that such joint partnerships be regulated and that local institutions working with rural communities should educate them on available support services.
Keywords: Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), Mautu, partnership, profiteering, self-help water supply projects