Mobile A2K

Culture and Safety in Africa

New Walk Ways in New Bell

Name of Artwork
New Walk Ways in New Bell, 2010

Location and Accessibility
New Bell

Level of Significance
Proximity artwork

About the Artwork
New Walk Ways in New Bell by Kamiel Verschuren is a 500 meters long installation made of wooden planks covering the open gutters of the district: the planks bear perforated text fragments. The text fragments recall the theme of SUD 2010, and report sentences and adjectives related to water properties, to its driving force, and to its ability to take different shapes, colors, and statuses. At the same time the planks by Verschuren have the functional purpose of protecting gutters from garbage (especially during rain seasons when the risk of floods is particularly high), allowing the filtration of water. They are positioned on shared, public spaces that do not supply a merely individual benefit to anybody, but rather act in favor of the community. However, the degradability of the wood makes this installation more a temporary work then a permanent one, and after three years, the New Walk Ways in New Bell have only partially been preserved. Nevertheless, in some cases this work stimulated the local population to restore and replace the broken or damaged planks with new ones, pushing dwellers to contribute to a collective good and to pursue the functional idea of the work.

About the location
The entire district of New Bell is characterized by serious problems of unhealthiness, due to the absence of sewers and an irregular waste collection system. To overcome the risk of seasonal floods, the community of Douala has built concrete drains on the edge of the paved roads. These channels should channel the rainwater towards peripheral, uninhabited lands. However, the maintenance and cleaning of the channels are not guaranteed. Drains usually serve as landfills and sewers, obstructing the flow of water and attracting rodents and insects carrying diseases. Only since 2011 the public waste collection service has started placing some trash bins on the paved roads of the district, collecting the garbage once a day. However, the waste problem is not yet solved and seasonal floods continue to harm New Bell.