Posts tagged ‘cameroon’

June 20, 2015

Cameroon: Water Scarcity Hinders Inland Fish Farming

Aaron Yancho Kaah
June 17, 2015

Fish is a source of high quality protein for most households across Cameroon. The low cost for fish products some years back attracted high demand in the local markets which encouraged several people to join fish farming. But as our reporter Aaron Yancho Kaah narrates below, several farmers are running away from the once lucrative venture.
Over the years dug-out ponds have been the commonest and the most convenient enclosures for fish farming.

But the recent water scarcity in the country has put more than 50% of small scale fish farmers out of business and production. Many ponds have dried out as a result of the rising temperatures, poor land and water conservation methods.

The few who depended on pipeline irrigation systems to supply water to their ponds have also suffered a setback. The drop in the water level in these ponds as a result of the too much sunshine has also severely affected production.

This has subsequently led to poverty in several homesteads and unemployment. The price for fish has increased drastically in the local markets.

One of the Numerous Fish Ponds in Cameroon

One of the Numerous Fish Ponds in Cameroon

The average Cameroonian who depended on fish farming for survival has to turn to other ways of making ends meet.

With the climate changes and the seasonal uncertainties that have brought about this water scarcity it is not very clear when these poor fish farmers will remain in this business for long.

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.

July 18, 2014

Cameroon: Marine Litter Threatens Aquatic Life and Human Health

Edith Achamukong
July 18, 2014

Environment experts are warning of an imminent disaster as a result of the increasing amounts of wastes along the sea and beaches of Cameroon. They are now calling for an end to bad waste disposal habits.

Over the years, the activities of fishermen, traders and tourists along the coastline of Cameroon have put the health of sea birds, reptiles, fish and sea mammals and human beings in jeopardy.

On a daily basis, waste material generally referred to as marine litter is generated comprising plastic bags, plastic bottles, cigarette stumps, old clothes and abandoned fishing gear. Most of these items are non-biodegradable in nature and sometimes are washed into the sea from residential areas or simply disposed of by ships.

Litter at Down beach,  Limbe

Litter at Down beach, Limbe

Environment experts say consumption of plastic waste by aquatic animals could lead to entanglement, bloating, poisoning and death of such faunae.

Some of these sea creatures mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. The toxic contents of these plastics have been linked to the suppressed immune systems and reduced reproductive rate of sea creatures. Also, when contaminated sea food is poorly cooked and consumed by humans, the health implications are severe.

In a bid to tackle the problem of poor waste disposal and management on the beaches of Limbe, the City Council has recruited the services of a waste disposal company to meticulously clean this tourist destination. Besides, pro-environment Non-Governmental Organizations carry out regular beach cleaning campaigns.

Unfortunately, these efforts are sometimes thwarted by the unsanctioned habits of some tourists who fail to drop rubbish mostly plastics in garbage cans. Also some commercial fishermen upon return from fishing trips litter the shores with marine debris picked up by their fishing nets.

Litter on the Cameroon beaches

Litter on the Cameroon beaches

While talking to our reporter, a fisherman, Johannes admitted that ‘at times we go fishing and end up filling our nets with more dirt than fish. When we bring our nets to the sea shore, we take time to remove such dirt and drop here because we have people who clean the beach every day. They are paid to do that’.

These fishermen are entrapped in a vicious circle of ‘catching’ litter they previously dumped on the sea shores.

While the activities of fishermen and tourists contribute to the heaps of waste, the refuse disposal habits of slum dwellers greatly amplify the problem.

The Chief of Bureau for Maritime Transport in Limbe Moki Martin says most of the litter that ends up in places like ‘Down beach’ Limbe comes from nearby creeks.

‘Some people especially fishermen have illegally constructed their houses along the creeks in Limbe and Tiko and they dispose of their household waste in these creeks. When it rains heavily, the dirt is dragged into the Atlantic Ocean as the streams empty themselves,’ notes Moki

Fishermen spend time removing litter from their nets

Fishermen spend time removing litter from their nets

Asked to comment about the waste disposal habits of sea vessels’ occupants, Moki said ‘many people think it is ships that pollute the sea, this is not the case because our office works closely with ships and we control even their waste baskets and they know that the penalties are high if they are caught polluting’.

In line with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), experts of the Divisional Delegation of Environment in Fako ensure the prevention of oil pollution through rigorous checks of ships that anchor in the West Coast. One of the officers in charge of environmental control, Tiwa Zacharie says ‘during our operations, we find out if kitchen waste is treated before being disposed of in the sea. We also control the waste oil in their slush tanks as well as the sewage. To ensure that the sea waters are not polluted by waste oil from their engines, ships that successfully anchor with such waste are hooked up to certified waste disposal companies’.

It is worth noting that each year thousands of sea turtles and sea mammals are harmed because of plastic waste and water pollution. Moreover, the human food chain is not spared as disintegrated plastics ingested by fish end up on dining tables.

September 6, 2013

Water Demands in Cameroon

Aaron Kaah Yancho
September 06, 2013

Water is central to human existence: The former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said that access to water and sanitation is fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

But where is water?
Without improved access to clean water and sanitation the important task of defeating poverty and hunger can never be achieved anywhere in the world. Often than not the economic consequences resulting from lack of potable or clean water and better sanitation are always underrated in the developing world.

In Buea, several children and women spend hours fetching water (Picture by by the writer)

In Buea Cameroon, several children and women spend hours fetching water (Picture by by the writer)

More focus is often on politics and sports. Yet Hygiene related illnesses have a direct impact on the economic growth of any nation. The cholera outbreak in Cameroon in 2011 costed the state not only billions of money to combat but also resulted into loss of many lives, time spent by women to collect water through long distances prevent them from doing other beneficial activities for their livelihood and girls from attending school.

In the Far north Regions of Cameroon the issue is even worse as only 5% of households have access to water according to Heifer International Cameroon report in 2010.

Nonetheless improving access to clean or safe water and sanitation is significant not only to reducing poverty and misery in the rural communities of north Cameroon but also in achieving the millennium development goals for good health including maternal and child mortality, fight against HIV and AIDS, water related diseases and malaria.

In Sub Sahara Africa, more than 2 million of children die annually from water related diseases, poor sanitation and hygienic conditions. But the word water appears nowhere in the Millennium Development Goals of UN.

Having access to safe water and basic sanitation is vital to everyone's life

Having access to safe water and basic sanitation is vital to everyone’s life

Today, a Millennium Declaration includes a commitment to empowering women and achieving the gender equalities in our societies. Improving water and sanitation is a vital task on empowering women anywhere in the continent.

Water and Sanitation Go Together
Experience shows that women and girls suffer a lot due to lack of access to good drinking or portable water and private sanitation at homes. Women and girls must fetch water for domestic use and other needs at home.

In the far north regions of Cameroon on average, girls and women must walk 4miles carrying 5 gallons of water or tend 20 to 30 litters on a Carmel back. If homes lack water these young girls will not attend school, this explains why majority of the affected when water related diseases breaks out are girls and women. In this region, poor water management has often led to the spread of dangerous diseases like dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis, polio and even tape worm.

This is also an underlying factor for the death of many children in these rural communities each year. Repeated episodes of these diseases have left children and their mothers only at a brink of survival “malnourished and too weak to engage in any farm activity”, an Oxfam report on the area remarks.

Water scarcity also leaves families at the mercy of contaminated water. In high times of need people drink from the same sources where animals drink and bathe under the soaring heat? The growing number of HIV and AIDS patients in these areas is very susceptible to diseases due to these bad water sources.

This social concern has left most families orphaned and in abject poverty. Limited water sources is also a breeding conflict among grazers, farmers and with unsustainable land management many needy families are becoming “environmental refugees” as they move to find farming land every year.

Agricultural production depends on water so people, who depend on land, depend on water as well. The loss of water sources as a result of climate change affect women too severely as they depend on land property to survive in these rural communities of Cameroon.

The Lake Chad River basin with 42 million people is one of the poorest regions in the world today. The shrinking of Lake Chad river basin that was once a mighty source of water has put the region into chaos.

Women make over 80% of those in want. Looking at the importance of fresh water and its increasing demand in the Agricultural industry in this region and beyond, the need by governments around this River basin to protect and manage this water source is very crucial. Through according to the UN millennium development goals, many states around Africa and the world are committed to ensuring environmental sustainability and to fight the vanishing of environmental resources to climate change.

One way in doing this adequately is by addressing unsustainable water consumption patterns or uses’, this can be very vital in halting environmental degradation patterns for development and peace. According to a UN water report, 3.4 million people are will be living in places defined as water scarce by 2015 with lake Chad River Basin topping the list. This is a call for urgent action.

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

July 7, 2013

Cameroon: Water Insufficiency Hampers Food Production

Aaron Kaah Yancho
July 07, 1013

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for all families in Cameroon Rural areas. Over the past years rapid urbanization has been placing a stress on the existing water sources and infrastructure in the country. Mounting pressures on these natural resources has also led to land and water degradation. Yet with the population growth, food crop production will need to increase by at least 60% to meet demand. Interpreting this subtext will mean more water will be needed to boast this sector.

The (International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015) presents an opportunity to promote a sustainable water management in Agriculture and to eradicate poverty and care for the earth.

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

Statistics prove that irrigation farming systems which represent only 20% of the world’s farmland produces about 40% of the world food supply and 60% of cereals much more than rain fed agriculture.

The longer dry seasons in Cameroon (4 months in the coastal regions of Cameroon and 7 months in the Sudano Sahel regions) has been hampering rain fed Agriculture very severely.

In the Ngokentujia division of the North West Region of Cameron Rice production use to be a predominant food staple. The scarcity of water in this plain has made rice production very difficult. More than 80% of farmers in the area now lack a primary source of a staple and income.

Mary Nyagha Ngum is a subsistent farmer who today is not undermining the role that fresh water and rain had played in the cultivation of rice in the area.

“We didn’t think protecting the water sources upstream was important until now,” she remarks.

The overcutting of trees upland affected the water catchments that supplied fresh water for this farming. The creation of the Upper Noun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA) to reinvigorate rice farming and to development drought resistant species have not helped things. Water scarcity and the high temperatures have continued to mar the sector.

In the coastal Regions of Cameroon and some parts of the North West Region one in five farmers depended upon fishing farming for a direct livelihood. Today more than 70% of fish stocks are already depleted in these regions. This is already posing serious challenges to this main food source which was also providing employment opportunities.

“I now depend only on imported fish to have my meals well prepared,” Isaiah Ngufor a Fish Farmers in the region says.

Some needy farmers who cannot afford an income like Isaiah to buy this fish virtually feel cheated either by nature or circumstances. Water has become just these farmers’ biggest needs. The changing rainfall patterns and the stultifying effects of climate changes predict no good thing in the near future.

Along the Lake Chad river basin the overexploitation of water for irrigation by some development organizations has drained all wetlands upstream leaving the farmers downstream stressed.

“This has been posing a big challenge to the sustainability of farming in the area,” Micheal Nouh, a researcher working for Green Peace in the area remarks.

Dried up Part of Chad Lake Basin

Dried up Part of Chad Lake Basin

Along the coastal region of the country where most cocoa, rubber and banana plantations are located the inappropriate use of chemicals fertilizers in these farms has led to the pollution of streams and rivers habitat for endangered animals species like snails which are a high protein and money source for the local farmers.

Joe Nchemty, a member of one of the common initiative groups working to eradicate poverty in this community says the loss of these snail habitats has deprived the communities of their main traditional meals. “We are suffering,” Joe says.

Like everywhere in the world where water is actually needed to move agriculture, greater efforts are needed to help these farmers produce more food of better quality with less water. Only then can local governments be proud to be fighting poverty and caring for the earth.

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