Conducting Water Catchment Sensitization to Communities

In October 2012, the Community Agriculture and Environmental Protection Association (CAEPA Cameroon) carried out sensitization to community members in religious houses, religious groups, socio-cultural associations, hospitals and sporting activities. These sensitizations were conducted to educate the communities of Balkumbat, Bali Gashu and Bali Gansinabout the importance of protecting water catchment areas.

These sensitization sessions were supported with 1,500 posters (500 posters per community) distributed within the communities to reinforce group sensitization and provide the public with materials to read and share information about water catchment protection.

The Field Staff team reported approximately 16,500 community members (farmers and grazers) that received these community messages to sustain the interest towards the protection of water catchments. Furthermore, this program created a local community network for water catchment protectors’ and local water governance committees that will continue to press for improvement in the management of different catchments.

In addition to this, a better understanding has been developed on the concept and practice of water catchment protection across the sensitized communities by the field staff and is reflected during interviews carried out during monitoring to evaluate yearly round supply of portable drinking water as well as in other aspects of their community life.

Visiting Balkumbat, Bali Gashu and Bali Gansin

CAEPA Cameroon in collaboration with the Balikumbat council and the traditional councils of Balikumbat, Bali Gashu and Bali Gansin visited the different water catchment sites for demarcation.

In Balkumbat – farmers were carrying out the cultivation of vegetables and tomatoes in the catchment areas since it’s wet all year round. In Bali Gashu – there was acute deforestation for the use of wood for fuel. In Bali Gansin – community members had already planted their crops within the area, resulting in the traditional council of Bali Gansin to put an injunction on the piece of land prohibiting farming and grazing activities.

Creation and Management of Tree Nurseries

In each community, tree nurseries were created with a total of 20,000 trees being transplanted in each catchment area. The traditional rulers of the different communities sent out a town crier with the traditional gung to announce the date for planting trees. The tree planting exercise took place on the 22nd of May in Bali Gansin, 28th of May in Bali Gashu and 1st of June in Balikumbat.

Problems Identified

On the 28th of April, a base line scan was carried out in collaboration with CAEPA Cameroon and a GPS Consultant. In the raining season, there was always an abundance of water. However, during the dry season, community members would go for days without drinking water and would have to resort to small wells dug in raffia bushes for drinking water.

In the Balkumbat district Hospital, there were 801 persons who were consulted at the hospital with 50 suffering from water borne diseases during the dry season. This is due to the transhumance by the Mbororo Fulani Pastoralists. In addition to this, other diseases such as typhoid and sleeping sickness were rampant because of the Tse-Tse fly.

Challenges

  • Land ownership

Bali Gangsin and Bali Gashu– Several community members from Bali Gangsin and Bali Gashuclaimed that they cultivated these lands for years and that nobody could evict their activities from this land. The traditional council of Bali Gangsin and Bali Gashu put an injunction in these lands and farming and grazing activities were prohibited.

Balkumbat – In regards to Balikumbat, these challenges were different as the land ownership issues were between the Mayor and the Fon (Chiefan). The Fon wanted community members to exploit these areas as a challenge to the Mayor and to represent that the Fon is the traditional custodian of the land. In response to this, the administration became involved where the sub prefect issued a sub prefectural order banning farming and grazing around catchment areas.

  • Grazers intruding in the catchment areas

A minor challenge encountered was that several grazers would cut the fence to let their cows graze within the catchment area. In response to this, a fine was instituted by the Sub Divisional Officer on anybody caught carrying out any activity around the catchments.

Outcomes

In October, a final evaluation of the project was carried out. The three catchments in Balkumbat, Bali Gansin and Bali Gashu were protected and were the main source of portable drinking water within the communities. The construction of the fence, planting of water friendly trees and prohibition of grazing and farming activities created a shade that covered the soil, essentially reducing the evapo-transpiration. The trees planted were water-friendly trees that in the long-term would provide enough shade and help increase the water table thus ensuring an all year round availability of portable drinking water within the communities. The fencing and the prohibition of farming and grazing reduced the amount of chemicals (insecticides and fungicides) as well as animal faeces and urine getting into the streams. With the prohibition of those activities, the water is clean and the community members can now boast of quality drinking water throughout the entire year. Furthermore, the community were able to access this clean water more easily.

This project also assisted in the overall health of the community. In 2011 there were approximately 50 people admitted for water borne diseases at the Balikumbat District Hospital. However, by the end of 2012 this reduced to only 21 people suffering from water borne diseases, 15 admitted for diarrhoea, 10 suffering from dysentery and 6 from Typhoid.

Overall, this project undoubtedly improved the general access to safe and clean drinking water as well as improving the overall community of the health. Although there were land ownership issues, the rule of law and strict local governance of the water catchment areas has enabled communities of Balkumbat, Bali Gansin and Bali Gashu to prosper and improve their long-term future.

Tubah Upland Forest 2013

Introduction

Many international environmental conservation organizations have focused on the Tubah Upland Forests of Cameroon, particularly focused on raising awareness about the forest exploitation and the detrimental impacts it has on the diverse habitats of animals such as the Nigerian Cameroon Chimpanzee.

In 2013, CAEPA Cameroon liaised with farmers, grazers, hunters and students to engage about forest exploitation and the importance of conservation and restoration. CAEPA Cameroon aimed to improve, enhance and raise awareness about the conservation status of threatened trees for chimpanzee food and habitation within the Tubah Upland Forest.

The Tree Reforestation/ Conservation Project

CAEPA Cameroon conducted training workshops on tree identification, reforestation techniques and nursery establishment on the 15th July – 21st July 2013. CAEPA Cameroon engaged with the communities surrounding the Tubah Upland Forest about issues such as forest exploitation to conserve and restore threatened tree species for chimpanzee food and habitation.

The project was launched with 96 people in attendance. This included men and women from administration, government, community leadership authorities, hunters, grazers and student communities. During the launch, stakeholders were assigned roles and responsibilities with CAEPA Cameroon raising the awareness on the importance to protect the forest and its diverse species, particularly the Nigerian Cameroon Chimpanzee.

The program continued with a 4-day workshop on tree identification, nursery establishment and reforestation techniques with a total of 52 people receiving training.

The Forest Restoration Outcomes

A permanent nursery was established with the involvement of 58 community members. In total, 10,000 poly pots were filled with 6,000 trees including species such as Myysopsis, Beshemidia, Vocanga, Vitex, Cordia and Ficus. Workshop participants and community members also planted 5,000 trees during the demonstration on reforestation techniques in degraded patches linking a corridor between the Fitsen and Kubu patches.

The Training/ Educational Outcomes

In addition to the forestry restoration achievements, CAEPA Cameroon also conducted training sessions teaching the participants about:

  • The 1974 Land Tenure Ordinance and the 1994 Forestry and Wildlife laws
  • The FAO definition of a forest and tree identification based on their habitat, leaves, flowers, fruits and exudates.
  • Nursery establishment and the different phases of establishing a nursery – purpose of the nursery, location, establishing a permanent water source and soil type.
  • Reforestation techniques
  • Afforestation techniques and the variety of ways it could be achieved such as natural regeneration and artificial propagation
  • Direct sowing and planting techniques

The Policy Outcomes

There were several policy initiatives initiated by multi-party stakeholders to further develop this knowledge into sustainable change.

Many stakeholders came together for the first time to engage with the issues of forest exploitation and protecting the chimpanzee’s habitats. Users demanded the forest should be mapped and buffer zones established for the protection of the environment and animals. They also demanded that law enforcement should be enhanced to reduce pressure on the forest and the local community maintains their awareness of Cameroon wildlife law, land ordinances and pastoral code.

Furthermore, there were 4 focused group dialogues conducted with farmers and grazers in KedjomKeku, KedjomKitinguh, Bambui and Finge which explored strategies into reducing the exploitation of the forest as well as looking at improving farming techniques and trainings.

 

 

 

CAEPA Cameroon’s HIV/ AIDS community outreach project

Introduction

The Community Agriculture and Environmental Protection Association Cameroon (CAEPA Cameroon) is a non-governmental organisation based in Cameroon dedicated to enhancing community health, agriculture and environmental protection within Cameroonian communities. CAEPA Cameroon engage with the communities on important issues through projects aimed at identifying community challenges, researching and proposing sustainable long-term policy recommendations that engage the local community.

Background of Project

In 2012, CAEPA Cameroon launched an HIV/ AIDS outreach community project dedicated to carrying out HIV counselling and testing, health education, resources and improving overall access to information on HIV/ AIDS. According to the Cameroon National Health survey (2004), Cameroon has an HIV prevalence of 5.5% with the North West region having a prevalence of 8.7% that considerably exceeds the national prevalence average. Within the North West region of Cameroon, the current Mbororo population is estimated to be roughly 80,000 of a total 1,500,000. The Mbororo population is located at the peripheries of the region and thus resulted in reduced access to government services while their relative population dispersion has further caused exclusion from other communities within the region.

Historically, the Mbororo population has experienced under-representation and marginalisation within all branches of local government and administration (except livestock) while their traditional leaders are viewed as subordinate to ‘native chiefs’. Furthermore, a language barrier and education gap constantly alienates the Mbororo population. These existing gaps have resulted in a marginalisation and isolation of the Mbororo people as well as a sense of ‘otherness’ within the form of a code of conduct known as ‘pulaaku’.

Within the Mbororo population, Mbororo women in particular have low rates of literacy implicating their autonomy, family health and budget management. Furthermore, Mbororo women tend to have reduced social mobility in comparison to men on whom they are largely economically dependent. While this reality has relates to the political economy of the North West region, the onset of Islamisation amongst Mbororo communities has resulted in a sedentary lifestyle further restricting the role of women regarding their engagement in the broader social/ political/ economic life.

CAEPA Cameroon with the support of the African Women Development Fund initiated the HIV/ AIDS outreach project in order to address the existing social services and education gap within the Mbororo population. By doing so, CAEPA Cameroon invested within the local community to equip community members with knowledge and skills to create positive change for future generations.

The HIV/ AIDS Community Outreach Project

CAEPA Cameroon conducted the HIV/ AIDS community outreach project in an effort to close the gap between the Mbororo and local communities. Through this outreach project, CAEPA Cameroon conducted free voluntary counselling, testing for HIV/ AIDS, delivered education sessions, demonstrated the use of male and female condoms and distributed resources (e.g. condoms) to the Mbororo community while launching a public education campaign through local radio stations.

CAEPA Cameroon successfully collaborated with local peer educators to connect with Mbororo women group leaders as well as visited pastoralist settlements. They engaged with local radio stations (Abakwa FM radio and The Cameroon Radio Television) to sensitise the Mbororo pastoralists and inform them about upcoming screening and education talks conducted by the local peer educators which occurred from the 25th November until the 1st of December, 2012.

Challenges to Cameroon – Stigma and Discrimination

CAEPA Cameroon reported that the main challenge was engaging young girls and women about sex and demonstrating the use of the condom, as sex is largely a taboo topic within their community. Many women were willing to receive the condoms, however, were ashamed of what others will think of them. Furthermore, most of them did not want to get tested for fear of the unknown.

According to IRIN News, people living with HIV/ AIDS in Cameroon continue to suffer widespread stigma within society extending into everyday challenges such as obtaining bank loans, loss of jobs and suffering mistreatment at hospitals. In 2014, Cameroon’s national average prevalence for HIV/ AIDS was 4.5%, however, there are still many widespread myths and discrimination associated with the disease that can only be reduced through education.

Overcoming Stigma and the Future of Cameroon

Cameroonians with HIV/ AIDS continue to face stigma within society. This is notably exacerbated through a wide gap within social services and education for communities such as Mbororo pastoralists. CAEPA Cameroon’s efforts to bridge these gaps for vulnerable populations through education and awareness raising continue to pave the future for Cameroon. Through education and open engagement with difficult taboo issues, non-governmental organisations such as CAEPA Cameroon continue to equip community members with knowledge and skills to promote positive change for the betterment of life for Cameroonians.