AIn January 2019, CAEPA conducted a survey of 190 widows and 10 traditional council members, ranging in age from 22 to 88, drawn from the following Bali Chamba villages: Baligansin (30), Baligashu (40), Balikumbat (80), and Baligham (40). Out of 190 widows surveyed, all 100% stated they had undergone widowhood rituals. While widowhood practices followed similar rituals across the villages surveyed, there were significant variations in the duration and degree of widow inheritance. For example, in Baligansin where 30 widows had a total of 188 children, widowhood rites lasted approximately 2 months. One-third of the widows had been inherited – i.e. married to the deceased husband's relative. 23% of the widows were in favour of abolition of widowhood rites. None of the Baligansin widows inherited property. By contrast, of the 40 widows surveyed in Baligashu, who also had a total of 188 children, the ritual duration varied from 3 days to 3 months and there was zero widow inheritance. In Baligashu 100% of all widows were in favour of abolishing widowhood rites and over half inherited their deceased husband’s property. CAEPA will use the findings of the study to continue to raise awareness toward widowhood rites and practices, as well as continue to offer workshops and work with both widows, women, men, and traditional council members on legalizing marriages, providing emotional support to women who have undergone widowhood rites. Furthermore, CAEPA will remain an advocate toward making positive changes to the practice of widowhood rites, especially when it comes to the duration of said practice, as well as specific rituals and ordeals.
In December 2018, CAEPA Cameroon conducted a survey of 320 women in the Balikumbat, Bamenda II and Bamenda III regions of Cameroon’s North-West. The survey consisted of a series of yes/no and short- answer questions. It was reported that 100% of the women survey had been a victim of violence, with 55% reported being victim of gender-based violence (GBV). The perpetrators were overwhelmingly (90% husbands, boyfriends, and domestic spouses, however, all of the women survey also reported being abused by law enforcement officers, supervisors, and hooligans. In contrast, only 2.5% of women (8) reported the incident(s) to police, which is indicative of a significant distrust of law enforcement, within which masculinity and tradition are still too deeply entrenched. CAEPA will use the findings of the study to further raise awareness toward violence against women, as well as continue to offer counselling, run workshops, establish emergency hotlines, and much more, in order to curb and eventually prevent gender-based violence from occurring
In 2017, CAEPA Cameroon carried out a survey and awareness raising activities focusing on early and forced marriages in the North-West region. Following the survey, a pilot program was put in place to give assistance to survivors seeking redress, therefore contributing to promoting the rule of law, ensuring the respect of social justice as well as equal opportunities, and enhancing the citizenship of women and girls of the Bali Chamba communities of North West Region. CAEPA also carried out several surveys on early and forced marriages and gender-based violence in the North West region of Cameroon and organised workshops to present reports on qualitative surveys and ensure stakeholders would commit to taking action by developing local domestic violence strategies. Furthermore, we organised round-table discussions on topics such as healthy relationships, dating violence, sexual violence and consent, family violence, sexual harassment, stereotypes and norms which are driving VAW, media and internet VAW, and promoted role models and champions to expose violence and raise awareness.
In 2016, 40 women living with HIV were trained on market gardening. Participants acquired knowledge on compost production, as well as establishing and maintaining a garden with a focus on pest management. The participants were taught how to establish nurseries and create gardens. One central nursery was created with a variety of vegetables, such as celery, parsley, cabbages, leaks, kotmanjo, and tomatoes. The seeds were distributed to the women, and they were assisted in creating their home gardens (40 in total). The women are now harvesting enough vegetables to feed their household and have some for sale. With the income generated, women are contributing to their children’s education, in addition to other ways in which they are investing their earned income. These 40 women farming group leaders from Balikumbat, Bafanji, Bali gashu, Bamumkumbit and Baligansin were trained on modern beekeeping techniques. Five (5) Apiaries were created in Balikumbat, Bafanji, Baligashu, Bamumkumbit, and Baligansin with 10 hives each. All these were monitored and managed by the women trainees. After monitoring, reports show that about 60% of hives have been colonised. The women produced 150 litres of honey at the end of the project. Money from the sale of the honey was lent out to other group members and also used to engage in other income generation activities.
Also in 2015, 39 women group leaders making up a common initiative were trained for two days on group dynamics, book-keeping, and financial management. The women groups are now effective since they have democratically elected leaders - leaders who are accountable to the groups. They have a very active secretariat that keeps records of all group transactions. The Balikumbat Mixed Farmers Cooperative society started a scholarship scheme to send back to school single mothers and school dropout girls who want to continue their education or learn a trade. Presently 10 young girls, 3 single mothers, as well as 4 school dropouts have been sent back to school. Three pregnant young girls have been sent to learn tailoring and interior design.
In 2014, CAEPA conducted several information sessions on agroforestry for smallholder farmers. Included was information about integrated trees, including fruit trees into farming systems, in order to mitigate climate change, and to improve soil quality. In total, 6,502 trees of 4 species were planted covering 40 hectares of degraded land. Environmental clubs were organized at 12 schools - 1,000 new trees were planted and 10 tree nurseries/villages were established in Balikumbat. Moverover, 20 women-oriented farming groups received improved farming equipment, which resulted in the increased production of maize from a previous 1.5 to 2.5 tonnes per hectare. Through the establishment of the women’s sustainable development fund, CAEPA also engaged up to 1,044 women and 650 girls in agroforestry learning and practice, as well as engaged 80 women in training on how to use improved clay stoves. The participants were also engaged in micro-credit schemes to receive support with small businesses. Much of this work resulted in greater livelihood security and market diversification. Working with pastoralist communities in Balikumbat, CAEPA mapped out transhumance routes and zones and carried out restitution with communities and this resulted in a reduction of farmer-grazer conflict
In 2013, CAEPA Cameroon liaised with farmers, pastoralists, hunters and students – 58 participants in total - to engage them in efforts to prevent the exploitation of the Tubah Upland Forest, which is home to endangered chimpanzee populations. CAEPA raised awareness and mobilized the community in a reforestation project which saw the planting of 5,000 native trees to bridge a forest corridor between Fitsen and Kubu. CAEPA conducted training workshops on tree identification and reforestation techniques, and established a permanent tree nursery, which successfully germinated 6,000 native trees from 5 different species. Other community nurseries were also created in Balikumbat, Baligashu and Bamumkumbit. Furthermore, with the support of the Minority Rights Group International, CAEPA Cameroon worked to enhance the participation of minorities, particularly women, in decision making platforms where they lobbied and advocated for the implementation of the 30% quota for women in local, regional and national governance structures (councils and parliament). This is a clear demonstration that CAEPA is well positioned to work with not only community participants, but to also work effectively with all levels of government
In 2012, working with local communities, CAEPA successfully protected local water catchments in Balikumbat, Bali Gashu and Bali Gansin. This involved planting flood-resistant trees and prohibiting livestock grazing in the area to ensure good ground cover and water-retention. Both chemical (insecticides and fungicides) and natural (animal waste run-off) surface water pollutants were reduced, improving surface water quality. This resulted in local reduction of reported cases of water-borne illnesses. Community Outreach: HIV/AIDS Information Session, Counselling, and Testing Also in 2012, CAEPA worked with peer educators and local radio stations to share information among mobile populations, namely Mbororo and other pastoralist communities, about HIV/AIDS, engaging 201 people (80 women, 40girls, 61 men and 20 boys) in voluntary counselling and testing (VCT). Information sessions openly engaged participants in dialogue that went beyond HIV/AIDS to also include broader discussions on sexual and reproductive health and gender equity.
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