Archive for October, 2014

October 26, 2014

Cameroon: Bamenda City Grapples With Poor Sanitation

Aaron Kaah Yancho
October 26, 2014

In the city of Bamenda, in Cameroon, there is nothing abnormal with renowned boarding schools disposing their human wastes in a nearby stream. But as a result of this irresponsible garbage management, the smell of effluent hangs in the air and it’s certainly upsetting to residents and visitors there.

“This is part of the social crisis we face every day in the city,” Njuakom Philip, a resident of Bamenda laments.

Bamenda is one of Cameroons’ fast growing cities with some 800.000 inhabitants. Overtime achieving access to basic forms of sanitation and safe water in this city has been a tough battle for the city authorities.

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Proper sanitation guarantees a health environment and sustains human existence and development but in Bamenda more than 90% of the people there have no access to basic forms of sanitation. This is worrying.

Environmental experts like those at the Society for the Promotion of Better Earth attribute this situation to lack of basic education on how sanitation can eradicate poverty and misery in communities.

“We are lagging behind in educating people on the basic forms and needs of sanitation.” Dr. Michael Ngu of the Society for Promotion of Better Earth says.

Visitors to Bamenda have always wondered how residents of this city survive using water from sources contaminated with effluent. Like several other visitors, Solange Nschange says she finds this situation, “shocking and annoying.”

Over the recent years in Bamenda as well as in villages across North West Cameroon statistics have indicated that bad altitude and ignorance have been responsible for social and environmental problems encountered by the people.

But also in several other urban centers in Cameroon, open defecation along streets or emptying household residues and garbage on streets and in gutters is nothing new.

“Human wastes at all times contaminate streams and the limited portable water sources,” a Bamenda three council staff George Moforsa laments.

This water is then used to clean bikes and vehicles which transport the city dwellers. George fears this can lead to a vicious cycle of disease infections.

Then there are other troubles heaped on forgotten city blocks where hustlers and prostitutes congregate. Life here brings with it a constant strive just to exist.

“In these blocks pools of stagnant water beside roofless latrines are many, fresh graves dug besides ancient wells are a style.” George further narrates.

Several people living in such places are not aware that poor sanitation may cause lots of diseases

Several people living in such places are not aware that poor sanitation may cause lots of diseases

According to an NGO fighting for the protection of livelihoods in Cameroon under the banner of WA Cameroon, for these inhabitants diseases are common and in every second, poverty and misery has a human face and name.

“We see women who are suffering and living in abject poverty as a result of poor sanitation and water needs in all neighborhoods,” says Judith Awondo, who coordinates the gender project in this NGO.

The city’s lone slaughter house is weighed down by age and absence of a veterinary officer to check its sanitation facilities makes matters worse as water from nearby streams is constantly used to wash meat meant for human consumption.

“The fact that no one cares means the worst is yet to come,” Solange Nschange remarks.

The scarcity of land and the poor drainage system in the city are other factors affecting sanitation according to the local council authorities.

Constant erosions and lack of proper waste disposal scheme fosters the vicious cycle of poverty. “This is not only a sanitation crises but an environmental disaster yet policymakers are only focused on maintaining their political seats while all these issues get ignored,” George of remarks.

But, according to Dr. Ali Festus, a Development Expert in Bamenda says significant change can only come through collaboration between policymakers and the local people.

“Experience has also confirmed that education is a key factor in helping people to find a solution to their crisis,” he insists.

Dr Festus also underscores the importance of community media in tackling this social problem.
He says community media has a daunting task to reinforcing the importance of sanitation and water for human health and development.

Also a strategy by local council authorities in Bamenda, Cameroon to award cash prizes to the best neighborhoods in terms of sanitation and hygiene is paying off miraculously.

“Thanks to this that a moral code for sanitation and water is emerging slowly across the city,” Dr Festus says.

October 25, 2014

Making Water Flow: The Story of Mpaka Community in Cameroon

Aaron Kaah Yancho
October 25, 2014

The Mpaka village is made up of five large families. With some 1500 subsistence farmers predominantly from the m bo-tribe, cash crops like coffee, and palm wine, as well as coco yam’s, cassava and corn are the major source of income for the locals.

Situated in the bare sub-division, the Mpaka village is located some 140KM from the Douala Metropolis, Capital of the Littoral Region of Cameroon. While the warm, humid climate is good for agriculture and livestock production, still more than 60% of the population lived on less than 3,000 FCFA (USD 6.6) a week.

Wanting to do better, the community got together in an “initiative commune kodio o christo” to help each other improve food self- sufficiency and family incomes through keeping on particular animal: pigs.

Some women of Mpaka community

Some women of Mpaka community

An important first step was getting help and training from Heifer Cameroon. They did not just want ideas on animal husbandry but they were also keen to learn how to successfully manage themselves as a group, next, the families got on with the building of pigsties ready to start their new pig businesses. In 2004 Heifer gave 22 pigs to 20 farm family farms.

The success of the pig project was remarkable and immediate. Within months of receiving the pigs, the farm families had reared the next generation of piglets and was able to “pass on the gift” by donating some of the piglets to the next group of families. The income earned from selling the other piglets helped the first group to expand their pig herds.

But pigs were not the only change in the community. Manure from pigsties was being taken into gardens and used on the crops and this led to a significant improvement in food crop production.

The achievements of the group send positive reverberations throughout their community that touch the lives of other women, men and children too. As recognition for leading the transformation in the Mpaka community, the group President NGO-MISPA received the international golden talent award of that year from HPI, for all the positive accomplishments.

“The women shared their thoughts and worries about a development project that could assist the entire Mpaka community with me,” recalls committee President Ewane, “and we jointly identified a water scheme as a major problem for us all.”

Water supply was definitely the next thing the community wanted to change. In 2008, the group decided to use part of the funds from the gold talent award to apply for a water project under the European Union program- national du development du basin Mougoukam.

In 2009 the water project was approved for some 13,000,000 Fcfa [28,888 USD] with the community to provide 10% of this total cost. The group members acting like a driving force behind the project made instant contributions (415,000fcfa) and led by example the digging of the water catchments some 4 km from the Mpaka village.

Involvement of all community members including women, youth and the men has been of critical importance in Mpaka Community Water project.

Involvement of all community members including women, youth and the men has been of critical importance in Mpaka Community Water project.

An effort which is the equivalent of an investment of 1050, 000fcfa. Sure enough, the clean drinking water was soon available to all. The group President – Ngo Mispa who won the golden talent in 2004 said at the time “Today is my happiest day in this village. At last I have a legacy. Potable water to all inhabitants of Mpaka village through my efforts is great pride for me and the community, though I was not blessed with children I’m sponsoring two of my step sisters children in high school with proceeds worth 426,000fcfa (946.6 US Dollars) from my personal pig project.”

Ndjode Noel, chief of infrastructure for “program national du developpement du basin MOUNGOUNKAM” appreciated the role of Heifer Cameroon in galvanizing development in this community.

He said, “we succeeded to realize this water project because of the highly dynamic sprit of the women of kodio O christo who led by example. They took the lead is all aspects and I was overwhelmed by their collective spirit of sharing. They lodged and fed our technicians free of charge. This motivated us to realize the water filters in record time.”

As the women persisted creatively in their work, and in time, others began copying them and this accelerated development in other areas.

With pride rejuvenated in the Mpaka village, the farm families are continuing to reap rewards from their effort and enthusiasm.

“Our triumph over poverty is inspirational” says HRH Essoh Jean Marc, head of the Mpaka community and father of 6 children. Who also proudly declares that “the partnership between Heifer and his community led to visible improvements in pig farming, and enthusiasm for community action. The fencing of animals shunned the animosity that once existed between farmers and has improved sanitation, health care and nutritional value of the families.”

Acknowledging that the group Kodio o christo ushered in a new era, with many ground breaking activities within a short time, the proud village head thanks members of the kodio O christo for motivating and spear – heading development.

According to the village head the women provided 800,000 Fcfa (2,000 USD) in labour and cash for the constructing of a primary school, benches and corrugated iron sheets worth 200,000Fcfa (440 USD) for the Eglise Evangelique du Cameroon and some (601,000) Fcfa (130 USD) to sustain the church activities.

He continued praising the women for generating 2, 045, 000 fcfa (4,544USD) for the electrification of the village while owing this success record to Heifer International Cameroon , HRH Essoh Jean Mare termed the pig project as revolutionary in the lives of the kodio o christo women.

One of Heifers International cornerstones emphasises that for any community project to succeed, it must have the full support and investment of all community members irrespective of gender and age. Adopting

With community members living their dreams, thirty nine year old Essoh Theodore whose mothers was in the first farm families to be assisted sounded convincing to the employment opportunities Heifer Cameroon training and assistance created in the village.

“after dropping out of school, I left for Douala in search of a job and painfully earned a monthly wages of 25000 fcfa (60usd) for many years. When Heifer retained my community for pig farming, I returned to the village for pig and crop farming, immediately I met my vision even with out any little knowledge on pig farming. With income generated, I diversified into the extraction of palm oil, earning 15000 Fcfa (33.5. USD) weekly. To enhance production I employed two youths on a wages of 10,000 Fcfa (222USD) to work on the oil mill,” he testified.

Essoh Theodore’s success, relocated to the village some youths who had gone for greener pastures in the cities, like Edingha Billa and Essoh Christian who were able to generate 375,000 Fcfa (8,333USD) in one year. A sum both boys had never dreamt of while working in the city.

According to another young man Ewane Jean whom Heifer trained on entrepreneurial skills “Mpaka youths who concentrate on agricultural and lives stock development are better than those in the city”. A youth group called “association des Jeunes de koki Mimbo de Mpaka” now holds and venerates this vision of encouraging youths into pig farming and agriculture.

Since a balance diet makes for a healthy population, 49 year old Mbilla Odette acknowledges that the trainings on hygiene and nutrition brought about awareness on diet and good health. “We have pass on the on knowledge to some 56 community members on nutrition, resulting to the slaughtering of 154 pigs for domestic consumption” one year old boy Essoh Raul is one of the thirty six kids whom after a balance diet restored his protein deficiency and is now running to school happily. Sounding proud and elated another mother Essoh Jeanette affirmed that she often took ill but with Heifer intervention, she became healthy as she eat vegetables an pork high sources of protein and fat.

Manure from the pigsties led a significant improvement on farm produce. “The community produced 60.3 tons of corn 200 tons of cassava, 130 ton of coco yams and 36 tons of assorted vegetables “Confirmed another farmer. Since 2008 some farm families offered 10,750 kg of organic manure to some 78 families within the community saving some 215,000 Fcfa (477.7 USD) that would have been spent on inorganic fertilizers.

A peace corp. volunteer Nicolas Valeria hailed Heifer International Cameroon for planting enthusiasm in the kodio o christo women with a pig project to catalyzed development initiatives aimed at impacting the community “I’m impressed with the inhabitants of the community for the pig project. As a good practiced, I will assist them transfer this knowledge to the next generation.”

Essoh Bertin 44, who now owns a compost heap from where he collects manure for his garden, reaped the rewards last year when he sold tomatoes and bought 3 piglets to start a personal piggery. With livestock and food crop production providing the life line to riches ,Community members are turning to sustainable and integrated agriculture with or with out support.

Starting with just two pigs each and with fears never to over come poverty and hunger, they are hopes and renewed life in the Mpaka community. No doubt the pig population has increased from 100-260 as of December 2013 and this has eventually improved the economic potentials of the community.

Members of “Grope d’initiatve commune kodio o christo have passed on 26 piglets to other families in mbarebeng and majibo neighbourhoods, as a sign of extending and making that long time dream of building a poverty free Mpaka.

Nonetheless for Mpaka locals Heifer Cameroon has helped their women to demonstrate their abilities in overcoming countless obstacles, the fresh energy and changes are now opening up opportunities for the people to “make the water flow”, and to live better lives.

October 22, 2014

Malawi: Farmers Turn to Climate-Smart Agriculture to Outsmart Climate Change

George Mhango
October 22, 2014

Mable Msukwa, 20, a teaching student at Amalika TTC in Thyolo—Southern Region of Malawi— has had reservations for the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme [FISP] or you may call it fertiliser subsidy programme.

Msukwa thinks that the programme dilutes soil fertility, depends heavily on good rainfall pattern and contributes to conflicts between ruling party zealots and the opposition on how beneficiaries are identified.

Mable Msukwa, a teaching student

Mable Msukwa, a teaching student

During the 2013/2014 some traditional leaders and some ruling party officials were arrested in connection with alleged corruption-related issues in how they distributed the coupons used by any beneficiary to procure fertiliser.

Said Msukwa: “If Malawi experiences droughts then the whole fertiliser project, pegged at $113 million this year, would be a flop; hence, the need for experts and scientists to search for alternatives in view of climate change effects on agriculture.”

This is why Msukwa is advocating for potholing system through farmers clubs championed by Development Aid from People to People [DAPP] in its catchment areas. DAPP operates in Malawi’s three regions providing education, agriculture, health and business projects.

The system complements Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) championed by New Economic Partnership for Africa development (NEPAD) through Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe, threatening the reliability and productivity of agriculture, exacerbating already extreme levels of poverty, and reinforcing persistent inequity and chronic under-nutrition.

And now Malawi has demonstrated that such problems can only be solved through the widespread adoption of more resilient, productive, sustainable, equitable and increasingly efficient farming practices in line with CAADP’s initiative through Climate Smart Agriculture.

During a recent training workshop for journalists in Nairobi, Kenya, NEPAD officials—said adopting Climate-Smart Agriculture practices can reduce the risks faced by smallholder farmers, as well as mitigate the effects of extreme weather events on farms.

To substantiate this, DAPP in Malawi started implementing the system through farmers clubs in 2006 in Lilongwe, Chiradzulu and Zomba with funding from the US Department of Agriculture, before it took the concept to Thyolo District recently.

As it stands now, various students in DAPP training colleges are working on the system with communities surrounding colleges. For example, Luka Black and other farmers from Village Head Madulira in Senior Chief Kadewere in Chiradzulu have adopted the system.

“As farmers we are organised into groups with the help of student teachers and DAPP agriculture field officers where we share information, peer support and facilitate resource pooling to bolster marketing and financing.

“Since DAPP offered us training for three years we are able to stand on our own through potholing system. We don’t depend on fertiliser but manure and water pumps,” says Black.

Initially, the potholing system does not require fertilisers and rain water, but rather, irrigation of crops using rope pumps installed by farmers clubs also being advocated for by other organisations.

Instead of using government’s extension officers, DAPP uses graduate students and farm instructors to spread the farming technique to communities on how to handle the system.

“We dig holes 15 by 30 centimeters and 15 centimeters deep. We dig holes and encourage matching to conserve moisture, which takes a week to dry. It also saves time in that the hole can be used for three times,” states Tione Banda one of the DAPP trained farm instructors.

In DAPP colleges, the programme has proved to be cost effective with big increases in the value of the crops farmers harvest year-on-year compared to the investment in the programme.

“These pumps are locally made and installed close to gardens. With this potholing system, I plant maize and any other crop during the winter and rain-fed seasons. I transfer this knowledge each time there is a school holiday,” says Msukwa.

Cost Effectiveness of Potholing Farming System

Msukwa and colleagues have their own maize, beans and vegetable farms where potholing farming system is practised. Harvests sustain the college and are an income generating activity for students.

Unlike other government training colleges which buy food stuff, DAPP colleges rarely buy beans, maize and vegetables for their upkeep based on field visits to DAPP colleges.

“We dig holes and put compost manure we make ourselves in the holes before planting crops. We irrigate those holes with rope-pump water to let the crops grow. Since manure is already there, we don’t worry about fertiliser,” she says.

Research by DAPP shows that since the introduction of the model average production increased by 24 percent. DAPP country director Lisbeth Thomsen says production increased from basically non-existent to 55 kilogrammes per person in the families of those participating in the farmers club. Those participating in the clubs are also asked to form cooperatives so they are self-reliant.

“With the potholing system production has increased from 120 per cent to 250 per cent in the recent past. People have more food as well,”

The production corresponds with the needed consumption for families according to standards set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for a diet that is sufficient with regards to calories and nutritional quality.

Lisbeth Thomsen, Malawi DAPP Director

Lisbeth Thomsen, Malawi DAPP Director

Thomsen says: “The initial 12 000 farmers have increased the area cultivated from 14 000 hectare to 21 000 hectares. Not only that, 6 000 families have improved their access to clean water and build new toilets.”

Future of Potholing System
The system has already attracted the blessings of the Malawi Government solely because it uses low cost farming model with tangible results even without the use of fertiliser.

DAPP as project implementers have since signed a memorandum of understanding with the Malawi Government to scale up the programme across the country depending on funding from donors.

Ephraim Nyondo, a social commentator said during his visit to DAPP colleges in Thyolo and Chiradzulu that the project be replicated in other areas.

“Could DAPP open more colleges to replicate this to other areas? With soaring prices of fertiliser, who knows compost manure could be the solution due to its cost effectiveness,” says Nyondo.

Currently, with the potholing system, 69 per cent of farmers produce more than eight different crops, 89 per cent of farmers are food secure and that 75 per cent of farmers engage in business.

Benefits of the Potholing System

Benefits of the Potholing System

While the authorities in Malawi are poised to adopt the system in the nearly, the “AU-NEPAD-Ingo Alliance for Scaling-Up Climate-Smart Agriculture in Africa”, or “Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance”, is designed to support the rapid scaling-up of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) across Africa, through the collaborative efforts and practical, on-the-ground experience of Alliance members in agricultural research and implementation.

The Alliance aims to support the uptake of CSA practices and approaches by at least six million farming households by 2021, contributing to the African Union’s broader goal of supporting 25 million farm households by 2025.

With Malawi’s population hovering at 14 million and 80 per cent living in rural areas, agricultural experts feel the adoption of the system would help upset the dependency on fertiliser and rainfall in view of climate change effects on agricultural production.

October 11, 2014

CCDA-IV: African Journalists Vow to Bring Climate Change Issues Closer to People

Violet Mengo
October 11, 2014

Journalists attending the fourth conference on climate change and development in Morocco have unanimously agreed that their involvement in dissemination of information on climate change will enhance Africa’s chances of feeding the continent.

In exclusive interview with media personnel in the newsroom at the conference, journalists echoed out their importance in the dissemination of timely and correct information to the public.

Journalists at CCDA-IV in Morocco. They belong to the Pan African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC), an association of African Journalists who report on climate change

Journalists at CCDA-IV in Morocco. They belong to the Pan African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC), an association of African Journalists who report on climate change

Emmanuel .K. Bensah, a journalist from Ghana says knowledge is not just plugged but come through a process of learning.

“For journalists to be effective in their work, they need capacity building training that will accord them the skill required to disseminate climate change information which would in turn make people especially farmers make informed decision,” Bensah says.

Bensah says climate change is a development issue and journalists therefore need to move beyond politics in their reporting and bring climate change closer to the people who are mostly affected by it.

He says with special training and having experts on board that consistently provide the media with information, it will result in the people knowing much about climate change and relate with the weather patterns that keeps changing.

“One key aspect that we as media experts need to bring out is the human aspect of climate change and this does not just happen it takes skill and knowhow that can only be attained through training,” he says.

Bensah commended the United Nations Economic Commission for the pre training accorded for media people to learn about Africa and how the continent can be able to feed the continent.

Journalists Kaah Aaron and Kofi Adu Domfeh interviewing Dr. Abdellatif working with IPCC adaptation group. This was during the CCDA-IV in Morocco

Journalists Kaah Aaron and Kofi Adu Domfeh interviewing Dr. Abdellatif working with IPCC adaptation group. This was during the CCDA-IV in Morocco

Apollinaire Niyiri from Burundi says disturbances in the form of floods and droughts affect people’s lives so much that journalists become a vital component in dissemination of information.

Niyiri says with information vested in journalists’ early warning messages and bad practices will be discouraged and creating awareness in people on some of the best practices that need to be adopted.

“We have heard and seen the effects of deforestation, erosion and bad agricultural practices done by people in Africa and how they have contributed to changes in weather pattern. It is possible that our voice as journalists can reach those that are involved in bad practices and in turn enhance productivity” Niyiri says.

And Annie Sampa from Zambia says it is the duty of journalists to show that some activity that people are involved can impact negatively on future generations.

“Feeding Africa will require that correct information is given out the people at the right time and this can only be done by the journalist,” Sampa says.

October 11, 2014

CCDA-IV: AfDB launches €33million ClimDev Africa Special Fund

Kofi Adu Domfeh
October 11, 2014

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched a €33million Fund on the sidelines of the Fourth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-IV) in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The ClimDev Africa Special Fund is aimed at building regional capacities in climate information gathering and dissemination to overcome challenges posed by climate change.

The first ‘Call for Proposals’ offers private and public sector institutions and organizations the opportunity to access financing to build viable, reliable and regular climate information sources.

Coordinator for Special Initiatives at the AfDB, Ken Johm, says though the Fund is not enough to meet climate information needs of Africa, he hopes it will “be demonstrative enough that others can also benefit and learn from such experiences”.

African Development Bank Logo

African Development Bank Logo

Climate change makes Africa’s poor, especially smallholder farmers, increasingly vulnerable – with about 37 percent of the continent at risk desertification.

There is therefore the need to stimulate growth through the translation of climate information into practical action.

The AfDB has committed to support countries adapt to the negative effects of climate change, ensure food security and support good land, water and forestry management good practices.

Climate information services enable better integration of the water, energy and land nexus, which are critical along the entire agricultural commodity value chain, says Dr. Fatima Denton, Coordinator of the Africa Climate Policy Center (ACPC).

“Our deepest conviction is that climate change remains a double edge sword,” she said. “It constitutes the greatest challenge of our times, but it is also Africa’s greatest opportunity to widen out ripples of prosperity across our continent.”

The Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) programme is entrusted with a mandate to improve climate information services in support of African development agenda. It is jointly implemented by the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AFDB).

Consolidating the potential for agriculture, using climate information services, will have a multiplier effect in catering for our youth, shared prosperity, and providing food, water and energy security, observed Dr. Denton.

October 11, 2014

CCDA-IV: Africa Petitioned to Reduce Burden on Ecosystems

Aaron Yancho Kaah
October 11, 2014

Harnessing renewable energy resources and efficient water management schemes can reduce the burden on ecosystems in Africa. This is according to the new report by Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change-IPCC.

The report was delivered by Dr Rajendra Pachauri , the head of IPCC at the fourth edition of the Climate Change and Development Conference (CCDA-IV) in Marrakesh, Morocco.

It highlighted that Africa was particularly Vulnerable to climate change because of poverty and ignorance.

The fourth edition of the Climate Change and Development Conference (CCDA-IV) convened in Marrakesh, Morocco

The fourth edition of the Climate Change and Development Conference (CCDA-IV) convened in Marrakesh, Morocco

It went further to pinpoint that tussle over natural resources like water and land aggravates poverty and the gender inequality levels leaving women more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The report suggests that systematic management of water resources and improved Agricultural techniques could bail the continent from these presents’ stalemates.

It calls for prompt action for harnessing renewable energy resources not only to promote growth and development on the continent but also to subdue the stress on the ecosystems.

“Projects like reducing illegal logging and deforestation for fuel wood and as well as the shunning of bush fires could provide immediate solutions to farmers in the rural areas of the continent,” the report notes.

Painting a bigger picture on the adaptation strategist, the report calls on governments and civil society organizations working with communities to enable them prepare for, cope with and adapt to future hazards by building stronger livelihoods, disaster risk management and increasing food self-sufficiency project s.

Agriculture provides the bases for the livelihoods of most developing countries’ economies, as 2.5 billion people make their living from agricultural production. 1.5 billion of these people are small-scale farmers. Improving the livelihoods of small scale producers has the potential to make a huge impact on poverty reduction

Africa resilience to climate change over time has been recorded through the production of droughts resisted seeds and an improvement in farming technologist and skills.

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