The construction of the Mékin Dam, in the south region of Cameroon, was completed in april 2018, after seven years of works, and it has already started the test to inject energy into the distribution system. The Dam is located after the confluence of the rivers Dja, Lobo and Sabe, in the north border of the Dja Natural Reserve, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1987.
The objective is to supply energy to the surrounding towns of the Dja and Lobo department and the tests have started with the communities of Meyomessala and Sangmélima . The plant is supposed to have a production capacity of 15 megawatts and a transmission line of 33 kilométres to supply electricity in eight communes.
The project has been celebrated by some sectors of the Cameroonian population as the energetic deficit is a constant in the country and light cuts are usual. Nevertheless, there has been an important controversy because of the consequences that the construction will have on the surrounding area.
In 2015, a joint World Heritage Centre and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) monitoring mission was carried out in the area, finding that “the construction of the Mékin dam represents a major threat to wildlife and habitat within the property”.  According to the report, construction work was almost completed but any measures to mitigate the negative impact had been undertaken, as the Hydro Mékin Society didn´t have an environmental expert in its team to coordinate the implementation of the PGES of the project”.
The joint mission draw some recommendations that were only partly taken into consideration by the company. In 2018, a new research carried out by FCTV Cameroon (Cameroonian Foundation Living Land- Foundation Camerounaise Terre Vivante) with the support of Global Forest Watch in the area of Bengbis showed that the creation of the dam has supposed the flood of severan hectares of forest, with a high impact on the populations and the environment.
“Even in the case of situations already expected by the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) in order to avoid, eliminate or reduce these impacts, we have to underline that there has been a considerable delay in the effectiveness of the application of these steps” (...) Between the situations that haven’t been addressed, they found:
-The disappearance of harvests (tomato, legumes) and medicinal plants. -The disappearance of traditional fish, specially that carried out by women, because of the increase of the flow. -The loss of resources from the fruit trees, like the wild mango, and the destruction of cacao and manioc in the flooded area. -The loss of the right of use over the land, affecting especially to women. -The augmentation of mosquitos and the malaria rate. -The difficulties of movement for the population because of the flood of the bridges over the Dja and the Lobo, what makes impossible for them to sell their farming products on the Bengbis and Meyomessala markets.
Besides all this, in June 2017, the town of Bengbis suffered a big flood due to the dam: the town was completely isolated due to the flood of the two bridges and the roads were impracticable. Now, the government has to rebuild the two bridges and some villagers will have to be relocated.
All this has made even more difficult the life for the communities near the Dam. This, united to the already bad conditions of life, has led populations over poaching, what it is a risk for the Dja Reserve.