CAWI Continues To Champion Support For Idps In Cameroon

The Centre for the Advancement of Women’s Initiatives (CAWI), in its humanitarian drive, continues to focus on the lives and livelihoods of the internally displaced person (IDPs),-their daily challenges and how to cope with them. One of CAWI’s most impactful scheme in this direction is the Economic Recovery Fund. Through this scheme, CAWI offers startup capital to IDPs to begin small scale businesses in order to ameliorate their living conditions.

CAWI recently visited some of the beneficiaries of the scheme to ascertain that they are actually doing the businesses and to evaluate the trend. Those visited are visibly very satisfied and appreciative to CAWI for having provided such a springboard for them. From the proceeds of their ventures, they are able to put food on their tables and equally take care of many other needs like health and house rents.

One of the beneficiary, who received XFC 50,000, went into “garri” and cocoyams business. Akoni Blessing as she is called , buys “garri” in basins from Muyuka, a locality in the southwest region of Cameroon and cocoyams from Bonakanda still in the same region. From each trip, she makes a profit of about FCFA 10,000. She says she intends to diversify as time goes on.

Another beneficiary, Foleven Elizabeth who received FCFA 80,000 is trading firewood. She buys a truck load of wood in logs, splits and retails for domestic fuel. For each truck bought, she makes a profit of about FCFA 40,000-FCFA 50,000. Apart from helping herself with the proceeds from the firewood business, she has suddenly become so valuable and popular in the neighborhood for meeting the fuel needs of the inhabitants of “Limbe Quarters” in Molyko, Buea.

They both confessed that their stories have never been the same again since CAWI came into their lives. CAWI is delighted by this revelation and hopes to continue transforming more lives positively.

Despite Conservation Efforts, Pangolins Boom Bush Meat Markets

Bertoua, the “land of the Rising Sun” remains the capital of the bush meat market in the East region of Cameroon. Every day, about 70 to 100 animals are sold and eaten in Bertoua, including 4 to 6 pangolins. At the well-known Derriere Porto bush meat market, everyday a smoked, freshly killed or a life pangolin is seen or bought amidst other rodents, ungulates, primates, carnivores, amphibians and reptiles.

The most disappointing act about the pangolins in the market is that every week, life pangolins are brought to the market and are seen struggling to run away but are either brutally smashed on the neck, head or on the body. This has caused so much grief and distress to helpless conservationist who may want to safe the pangolin but in vain.
Pangolins are one of the most talked rodents in the tropical rain forest and grassland today. From the Amazon Basin through the Congo Basin, to the Cameroon tropical landscapes, Pangolins remains at the top when conservation of rodents is concerned.
The Zoological Society of London and other conservation organizations spend millions of dollars on Pangolin conservation in Cameroon in general and East Region in particular. This has fostered research into population surveys, habitat usage, Feeding Ecology and education programs. This has somehow helped deepened their knowledge in understanding the outcomes pertaining to pangolin population and threats in Cameroon.
While government and NGOs focused themselves in protecting pangolins, hunters and many traders and traffickers have seen pangolins conservation as threats to their source of protein and deprivation of income from the sale of the smoked pangolin and scales which are used for medicinal purposes. Local consumers say pangolins have a unique taste and which is unavoidable to someone who has ever had a taste of it. This makes pangolins more vulnerable to hunters despite attempts to protect them.

If one may want to put it straight, taking statistics from the consumption of pangolin in Bertoua, one will undoubtedly agree there is still an encouraging number of Pangolins in the East Region but the population is declining drastically. However, from the IUCN state on Pangolins as endangered species, there is therefore urgent need to put a stop to the pangolin syndrome in the East through the reinforcement of laws on wildlife protection and effective follow up by Cameroon’s Regional Delegation of Forestry and wildlife (MINFOF)
With the pangolin in peril, ERuDeF is willing to extend her sphere of influence beyond primates especially Great Apes to this specie in the nearest future. While conservation of pangolins in Bertoua is difficult, especially around the periphery where these animals are caught like the Deng Deng National Park and the Dja Reserve, ERuDeF Still remains determined and trust its strategies to curb the killing of these species, while providing solutions to the plight of the local people.

In this light, the Environment and Rural Development foundation, ERuDeF is soliciting aid from Partners in extending her activities towards the conservation of pangolin in the East Region of Cameroon by engaging in aggressive sensitization campaigns, provision of alternative source of livelihood to hunters (through training in bees keeping and agroforestry) so that the pressure on pangolin be reduced, making the conservation of pangolin in the East Region a reality not more a hot midday summer dream.

Importance of Windbreaks

In arid zones, the dry, hot climate conditions coupled with minimal water availability are often intensified by strong winds. Winds can dry out soils and damage crops, leading to stunted plants and reduced yields. Living conditions and agricultural production can be improved by planting trees and shrubs as windbreaks to reduce wind velocity and provide shade for crops. Windbreaks are barriers of trees or shrubs planted to slow the movement of wind at crop level and divert the force of the wind to higher altitudes. They frequently provide direct benefits to agricultural crops, resulting to higher yields. Windbreaks also provide shelter to livestock, grazing lands, and farms.

Reasons for Planting a Windbreak
Primary reasons for planting windbreaks around Forest Gardens include:
• To minimize damage to vegetables and crops
• To protect vegetables and fruit trees while they are flowering (because fruits and vegetables develop from the flowers, you can increase production by protecting the flowers from heavy winds)
• To minimize soil erosion
• To minimize the amount of moisture the wind evaporates from soils
Since our aim is to maximize the use of space to provide as many benefits as possible, we can combine protection with production by choosing tree and shrub species that, apart from furnishing the desired sheltering effect, yield food, fuel wood, fodder, green fertilizer, or other tree products.
Design considerations
The species composition of trees and shrubs used in windbreaks vary greatly around the world, but the basic design of windbreaks stays the same. There tends to be a time of the year, often during the dry season, when strong winds cause the most damage. It is those strongest winds which must be addressed first. To reduce wind velocity, windbreaks should be planted perpendicular to the strongest winds path. It may be necessary to plant windbreaks on multiple sides of field because wind often changes direction during the year.

windbreaks

Desirable characteristics of windbreak species
● Fast-growing
● Drought-resistant
● Ability to withstand strong winds
● Deep spreading root system to for stability
● Trees with small open crowns reducing wind speed without stopping it entirely
By creating a windbreak that is too dense, winds can actually create turbulence on the opposite side of windbreak, crashing into and causing damage to the field. For this reason, the windbreak should be somewhat permeable. Optimum permeability is about 50 percent, meaning the vegetation from the windbreak should fill about 50% of the space. It is also important to continuously ensure there are not any major gaps in the windbreak, as the wind will channel through those gaps, creating a destructive tunnel of high velocity winds. If gaps are formed, through tree die-off for example, replacement trees should be planted as soon as possible to fill them.

Windbreaks can protect for a distance of up to ten times the height of the tallest trees. So five-meter-tall trees protect fields for 50 meters, as long as the windbreak is uniform in height and spacing. To better understand the design of a windbreak, one must look at it from the side and top.

Although windbreaks of only one row of trees may suffice, experience shows that the most effective windbreaks are those consisting of multiple rows. From a side, cross- section view, windbreaks should have a right triangle shape, with a vertical slope on the side facing the wind. If you look at the drawing below, the tall trees on the windward side of the windbreak stand beside rows of shorter shrubs or bushes. For barriers planted specifically for wind protection, taller trees on the windward side row can be spaced two meters apart. The next row, usually smaller shrubs, should be spaced about two meters from the first row, then bushes and grasses planted beyond and in between the rows to provide protection at lower levels. The lines of trees and shrubs should be staggered. By integrating tall trees, shrubs, bushes, and grasses into the windbreak, you can protect from winds at all levels and you can also diversify the products that you can harvest from it.

Deng Deng-Belabo Conservation Corridor Project Launched

The mission to save the Western Lowland Gorillas and impact lives in the eastern region of Cameroon has reached a milestone, after The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) launched the Deng Deng- Belabo conservation corridor project, in the east region of Cameroon, Betoua, which brought together local authorities, NGOs, government officials and other stakeholders who put pen to paper, giving the project a go-ahead.  

ERuDeF will be supporting both the local communities of the corridor area and the Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife for Lom,  to create two Community Forest Reserves of respectively 5,000 ha and 4,588 ha, to preserve a vital corridor between Deng Deng National Park (DDNP) and Belabo Council Forest in Eastern Cameroon,funded by WORLD LAND TRUST.

According to the Paramount Chief of Deng Deng, Chief
Kassala Roger, he believes this Project will reinforce the community, and he
gives ERuDeF and its partners the full support needed. “This project is for all
of us and for our benefits, not for an individual. Our dream is that, ERuDeF
succeeds in linking the Corridor not limited to Belabo,but right down to
the  Dja Reserve.” The chief also
applauded the initiative of ERuDeF and called for maximum collaboration for the
protection of animals and development of their community.

This forested link is currently threatened by habitat
loss from timber extraction and clearance for subsistence farming. The project
is needed in order to preserve the forest habitat for a wealth of resident
endangered species including but not limited to the Western Lowland Gorilla,
Central Chimpanzee, African Forest Elephant and two species of Pangolins (
Giant and White bellied Pangolin). Whilst the forest is still relatively
intact, a window of opportunity exists to preserve it against a trajectory of
rapid forest conversion in the region.

“This project is not ERuDeF’s project”. The Executive
Director of ERuDeF noted.  “ERuDeF is a philanthropic
organization, and it is both specie focus and human focus, that is specie focus
for conservation and human for development. The project is for the community
and we are here to facilitate the process, looking for technical and financial
means. Our main concern is the connectivity between the Deng Deng Conservation
Corridor and Belabo. The animals are stock in what can be called an island, and
if abandoned, inbreeding might lead to an extinction of the specie. In the next
15 years to come, we are going to link the corridor from Deng Deng to Dja,
which will ensure free movement of animals. We cannot do this without engaging
the community. This will give them more employment and revenue as well.

The Senior Divisional Officer for Lom and Djerem
Bamock Francis also expressed his satisfaction towards the objectives and goals
of the project.  “We are enlightened and
are offering our full support to ERuDeF to tackle the problems in the corridor
and of course bring development to the community.”

According to Angwa Gwendolyn, the Project Manager,
there are alternative sources of animal protein like the raring of pigs, sheep
and goats. She revealed that, “the project has a task to train the local
community on piggery and we are going to provide an improved variety of pigs
that can be able to give birth to about ten piglets. The people poach animals
because they need money to take care of their families and send their children
to school.one of the ways to combat this poaching is by introducing bee keeping
in this community. There are so many bees in the area and the locals have no
idea about bee keeping. We would be providing many other alternative sources of
income which will provide even more revenue for the people”.

After a working session, all stakeholders came to a consensus and came out with a final communiqué which was signed for ERuDeF to kickoff with its activities along the corridor.

Combating Desertification and Droughts

“Don’t let our future dry up. Food grows where the water flows”. The Environment Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) and its partners have been at the forefront in combating Desertification and Droughts in Cameroon. With this year’s theme, “Food, Feed and Fibre”, the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, insists that, the health of humanity depends on the health of the planet. “Today, our planet is ailing. Land degradation affects some 3.2 billion people. Seventy 70 per cent of the world’s land has been transformed by human activity. We can reverse this trend and bring solutions to a wide range of challenges, from forced migration and hunger to climate change.” He noted.

What is Desertification and Droughts?

Desertification is a type of land degradation in which a
relatively dry land region becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its
bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife, while droughts are a
consequence of changing global weather patterns triggered by ecological events
such as solar radiation, excessive build-up of heat on the earth’s surface and
increased particulate matter such as dust or pollution in the earth’s atmosphere.
Droughts are accompanied by reduced cloud cover, and thus the land is exposed
to increased solar radiation, resulting in increased transpiration and
evaporation rates.

Causes of
Desertification and Droughts and consequences  

Deforestation, climate change, over grazing, Urbanization,
poor farming methods and natural disasters are some principal causes of
Desertification and Droughts. All of these reduces the ability of an ecosystem
to survive when the climate changes, with dramatic consequences, such as: loss
of productivity of the soil; degradation of the vegetal covering, through to
its total disappearance; dispersion of solid particles in the atmosphere – sand
storms, air pollution – with a negative impact on man’s health and productive
activities; reduction of farming and breeding production: malnutrition and
hunger; migrations of people and wars.

How ERuDeF is Combating Desertification and Droughts

ERuDeF through the Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI), a joint initiative developed by ERuDeF and ITF in partnership with the government of Cameroon aims to restore 35,000 hectares of the degraded landscape through the planting of 15 million agroforestry and indigenous tree species to secure the livelihoods of over 30,000 people, for 15 years. Due to anthropogenic activities deforestation, bush fires, poor farming practices and urbanization, the Mount Bamboutos landscape has been severely degraded.  Therefore, ERuDeF has taken various steps to salvage the landscape with objectives in relation to governance, livelihoods development, biodiversity, forest landscape restoration, biodiversity, research and development and sustainable finance.

Bororo Women Pose for Picture during tree planting in Bangang, West Region, Cameroon

Also, the Mandara Mountain Initiative, just like the Mount Bamboutos Initiative will also help to plant 15 million trees to serve the Lake Tchad that is fast drying off. This project will also last for 15 years. Just like the two projects mentioned above, the Adamawa initiative will equally restore the the fast degrading Adamawa plateau in northern Cameroon with the planting of over 10 million tree.

Bangang Community members pose for a picture after tree planting.

Cameroon’s ministry Environment estimates that 12 million
hectares of land is degraded in Cameroon, 2/3 of which are in the northern
regions of Cameroon. The Far North,
North, Adamawa, North West and West Regions stand out as the most affected.
ERuDeF has developed restoration projects across these regions to salvage the
situation.

According to the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification), 25% of the world‘s land area is either highly degraded or undergoing high rates of degradation. No matter where you live, the consequences of desertification and drought concern you. Globally, 23 per cent of the land is no longer productive. According to UNESCO, one-third of world’s land surface is threatened by desertification and across the world; it affects the livelihood of millions of people who depend on the benefits of ecosystems that dry lands provide. Desertification is another major environmental concern and a major barrier to meeting human basic needs in dry lands and is being constantly threatened by increases in human pressures and climatic variability.

“In Africa’s Sahel region, the Great Green Wall is
transforming lives and livelihoods from Senegal to Djibouti. By restoring 100
million hectares of degraded land, food security is maintained, households kept
afloat and jobs created. Such efforts bring back biodiversity, reduce the
effects of climate change and make communities more resilient. All told, the
benefits outweigh the costs ten-fold. On this Desertification and Drought Day,
I call for a new contract for nature. Through international action and
solidarity, we can scale up land restoration and nature-based solutions for
climate action and the benefit of future generations. By doing so, we can
deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.” The UN
Secretary General noted.

How Agroforestry is Alleviating Poverty in Haut-Nkam

Agroforestry which is a science of integrated farming that includes trees, crops and animals on thesame piece of land, has proven to be a means through which poverty can be  reduced especially in rural communities.

During a recent impact assessment trip to Haut-Nkam, West Region of Cameroon by ERuDeF’s Director of Development and Philanthropy, farmers practicing agroforestry in this area attested they are witnessing a steady increase in yields.  These farmers are part of ERuDeF’s Forest Garden Project ongoing in the Mount Bamboutos landscape that cut across three administrative Regions of Cameroon.

Mrs. Gahatchamgoue Grace has been practicing agroforestry since ERuDeF introduced this system of agriculture in Haut-Nkam where she is based. “I have received training on agroforestry practices particularly by using the forest garden model from ERuDeF. My output has increased significantly since i diversified my farm, fodder (usually acacia) helps in increasing soil fertility, some of the trees like “neem” are very medicinal and the wood is used as fuel for cooking. I sell surpluses from crops harvested and earn additional income. This allows me to pay my children’s school fees with ease. Am very grateful to ERuDeF and her partners for introducing this life-changing system of agriculture in my area”, said Mrs. Gahatchamgoue Grace.

Agroforestry
has proven to be a system which is not only ecologically friendly but also
economically sound. This is very evident in Haut-Nkam where most households
depend solely on agriculture. Soil fertility has been improved considerably
given the diversification of crops. Incomes of farmers just like that of Mrs.
Gahatchamgoue Grace has increased substantially.

The
environment and Rural Development Foundation will continue to give technical
training as well as financial assistance to farmers willing to adopt this
system of Agriculture not only in Haut-Nkam but all over Cameroon.

CAWI Economic Support Puts Smiles on IDPs Faces

During a monitoring trip by the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Women’s Initiatives (CAWI) ,Mrs. Nkembi Lucia, to business sites of some internally displaced persons, who benefited from CAWI’s economic support, CAWI was overwhelmed with the impact her economic support has on IDPs.

 CAWI visited madam Ngoe, an IDP residing at Sandpit, Buea, southwest region of Cameroon to assess the impact of the economic support. Both the beneficiary and CAWI were very satisfied with the progress madam Ngoa has made after receiving CAWI’s financial package. “After receiving CAWI’s financial assistance, I immediately opened a provision store where I sell food and non-food items. The business has grown in leaps and bounce. I make profit of at least XAF 1500 to XAF 2500 a day. My life has changed greatly since I started this business”, madam Ngoa said with a broad smile on her face.

The Director of CAWI encouraged her by purchasing some items such as sugar, table napkin, onions, dried fish and eggs. Madam Ngoe could not hold her joy with the visit and expressed her wish for more of such visits which she considers to be very motivating. She thanked CAWI for putting smile on her face and giving her and other women hope and a vision.

CAWI Director buys some items from madam Ngoa

Note should be taken that madam Ngoa is one of the thousand IDPs scattered all over Cameroon as a result of the Anglophone crisis that has rocked Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest region for the past 4 years.

Forest Gardeners belittle COVID-19 threats

“No! Despite the COVID-19
pandemic threatening us, we farmers of Ngui village will continue to plant
trees in our farms while ensuring every safety measures put in place by the government
of Cameroon are respected. No matter what it takes, we need to take care of our
farmlands” cried out Donfack Jacques, a farmer of Ngui community in Bafou
subdivision.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has hindered economic activities in
most countries around the world given the strict measures taken to reduce its
spread. These measures that include but not limited to staying at home and
social distancing have greatly affected the forest gardens community of the
west region. The preventive measures have not only slowed-down field activities
but demotivated some farmers to execute their planned activities.

Despite all the hindrances, some farmers, such as those of Bafou subdivision of Cameroon’s West Region, remain strongly engaged. They are determined to hit their tree planting targets for the season.  

Donfack Jacques nursing Acacia catechu in his bare root

Donfack Jacques has been practicing forest gardening for two years and counting. He has received countless trainings from ERuDeF on how to setup and manage a forest Garden.  Donfack Jacques has several nurseries in which he nurses different species of fruit trees as well as fertilizer trees. “I can never abandon the nursing of fertilizer trees! I believe that these plants will help me to identify my boundaries and protect my crops against stray animals. The Acacia catechu trees will also protect my cabbages and potatoes from soil erosion and and degradation” 

ERuDeF signs MoU with DESDA, PEDER, renews commitment with G I, to restore the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem functions.

The environment and Rural Development Foundation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dynamic Eco sustainable and Development Association, DESDA, a local organization based in Bamenda and Protection de L’Environment et Development de L’Elevage en Milieu Rural, PEDER based in Mbouda. The signing of the MoU came after intense discussions that lasted for two days between the chief executive officers of DESDA, Mme. Foncham Linda and her team, Mr. Tazo Jean Bosco, the chief executive officer of PEDER on the hand and the president/CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi and his own team on the other hand.  The signing of the MoU took place at the headquarters of ERuDeF in Buea, Friday May 15 2020.

During discussions that culminated to the signing of the MoU, the President/CEO of ERuDeF schooled the CEOs of PEDER and DESDA about the Mount Bamboutos Initiative and expressed his willingness to build their capacities in areas which they may lack such capacities. He also assured them that ERuDeF will work with them for as long as they deliver. For us to succeed, the CEO of ERuDeF continued, “…we must have a shared vision, the vision of restoring the ecosystem functions of the Mount Bamboutos”

The Midterm review of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative was
also presented to enable the new partners understand the state of the project. Lapses
of the first two years of the project were discussed. The incoming
organizations are expected to close such lapses before the last year of the
current funding elapses. Louis Nkembi, just like the MBI project manager, Mr. Asabaimbi
Deh Nji stressed that these organizations must be on the field all the times so
as to ensure the smooth running of the activities of the project wherever they
are based.

DESDA that has as vision empowering indigenous and grassroots women/girl while ensuring a sustainable environment and restoration of the ecosystem will be working in Pinyin, Menka and Buchi, Santa sub-division, Mezam Division, Northwest region of Cameroon. It should be noted that the MBI project has as one of its objectives, empowering women and girls. DESDA is therefore a square peck in a square hole and her involvement and relevance in the project can not be over emphasized.

PEDER on other hand will be working in the Bamboutos Division of the West Region precisely in Babadjou and Bangang villages. PEDER’S main objective is protecting the environment and developing rural communities, which falls in line with  the objectives of the MBI- sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem restoration.

Worthy of note was the presence the CEO of Green Impact (GI), AWOUNANG Michel.  GI is a local organization based in Dschang that joint the the MBI project in May 2019. AWOUNANG Michel renewed commitments with ERuDeF in restoring the ecosystem functions of the Mount Bamboutos even before the 15 years that the MBI project is expected to last. GI has been working in the Menoua Division precisely Bafou village since last year when she joined the project.

The CEO of DESDA, likewise that of GI and PEDER expressed their gratitude to ERuDeF for giving them the great opportunity of being part of the MBI project that will not only restore the ecosystem functions of the Mt. Bamboutos but also change thousands of lives. The President/CEO of ERuDeF also thanked them for having confidence in ERuDeF and expressed his willingness to renew the present MoU (that expires in March 2021) for as many times as possible so long as they respect the terms of the current MoU till it expires.

The Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) is a joint initiative developed by ERuDeF and ITF in partnership with the government of Cameroon that aims to restore the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the degraded Mount Bamboutos landscape while securing the livelihoods of local and indigenous population. Specifically, the project aims to restore 35,000 hectares of the degraded landscape through the planting of 15 million agroforestry and indigenous tree species to secure the livelihoods of over 30,000 people, for 15 years. Due to anthropogenic activities such as poaching, deforestation, bush fires, poor farming practices and urbanization, the Mount Bamboutos landscape has been severely degraded.  Therefore, ERuDeF has taken various steps to salvage the landscape with objectives in relation to governance, livelihoods development, biodiversity, forest landscape restoration, biodiversity, research and development and sustainable finance.

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