WOMEN AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION IN NORTH WEST CAMEROON
CAEPA began in 2009 as a private non-profit organisation dedicated to tackling poverty in Cameroon by means of improving the knowledge and utilization of both agriculture and the environment, particularly amongst women and girls. CAEPA recognises that the environment is the only source of livelihood for Cameroonian citizens – over 80% of the population depend on agriculture for survival. Livestock and crop production, health facilities, health of community members and the welfare of school children all would suffer without the necessary skills and principles that an improved agriculture industry provides. Without information technology and without fulfilling socio-economic goals of the marginalised, outreach is limited. CAEPA exists to bridge this gap, whilst empowering members of the community with the ability and skill to create positive change, with agriculturally based, environmentally friendly objectives.
CAEPA mainly works with farmers to aid their production and productivity. CAEPA’s services involve working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and farmers, with successes in the following areas: organisation and capacity building in conservation areas, improved tree nursery and planting techniques, innovative food grain storage methods, more natural crop protection, better beekeeping, and improved marketing techniques in the North West Region of Cameroon. Furthermore, 50farming groups in Balikumbat Subdivision have benefited from training on alternative livelihood activities – an increase of over 10,000 plantlets has been witnessed.
Recent focus has been shifted to the Women in the Balikumbat Subdivision area. As a marginalised group with low skillsets and little access to other means of income, poverty is often both ubiquitous and endless. Climate change coupled with livestock density has ravaged land and food security is low; the ecosystem no longer fulfils its purpose of providing environmental services like clean water provision. With families at the heart of community, and women at the heart of providing the nutrition needed by each family, this project has had immeasurable levels of both present and future success.
Thanks to the support of the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), in September 2013, CAEPA was able to introduce their latest project, supporting women and girls in Balikumbat Subdivision in combating soil fertility deterioration, and mitigating the impact of climate change through agro-forestry for crop production. This support is crucial to train women and girls in agro-cultural roles, teaching them the techniques of nursery creation, seed collection, storage, pre-treatment and agro-forestry systems. By the project’s close in August 2014, successes were made in enhancing both the community awareness and conservation education in schools on climate change adaption and mitigation. This remodelled syllabus made for an invaluable investment in the future prosperity of the agriculture industry and thus, the surrounding local communities of Balikumbat. Other notable improvements were made in the improvement in rates of the techniques of agro-forestry for soil conservation, and from the increased nutrient intake via women and girls now planting fruit trees – both in the Balikumbat subdivision.
Notable Success Stories:
CAEPA successfully trained 522 rural women farmers from the Balikumbat Subdivision and the surrounding areas in nursery creation, seed collection and storage, pre-treatment and in development of agro-forestry systems, allowing them to independently check protective and essential measures such as pollution and soil erosion. An additional 3251 trees of 4 different species were introduced in previously degraded land, spanning an area of 40 hectares.
CAEPA were also able to reach out and develop the education system of the Balikumbat Subdivision; 6 schools, totaling 286 pupils of which the majority consists of girls, now benefit from newly introduced environmental clubs. Not only are the students now better positioned to understand and approach environmental issues as a result of these clubs, but 500 new trees have also been planted, which suggests the future progression into tree rehabilitation and environmentally-conscious upkeep.
Other successes include the implementation of 5 tree nurseries per village, covering all fice villages of the Balikumbat Subdivision. Furthermore, essential farming equipment has been provided to 20 women oriented farming groups – each group was endowed with at least a wheelbarrow, a sprayer, 10 hoes and various crop seeds. Women involved with the project voiced the many benefits they found, especially in the creation of nurseries and the care of seeds, culminating in an increase in production overall. This was notable in the production of maize – production soared by 1 tonne, from a previous 1.5 to 2.5 tonnes per hectare.
However, the work is ongoing, which is why CAEPA needs your support!
Owing to the kindness of AWDF, whilst CAEPA has already been able to make an invaluable difference to the livelihoods of women and communities alike in the Balikumbat Subdivision, there is still a lot more to achieve. Women still, face much marginalization and lack human rights parity compared with men; women typically have limited economic prospects, poorer health and lack ownership of land, which then contributes to the difficulty they face in gaining inheritance. However, CAEPA recognizes the huge role and impact women have on the agriculture industry, and so they plan to work tirelessly for the empowerment of women, by extending control of land to them.