Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Sorry Story of Cameroon’s ‘North of Extremes’

There are no mills in Mbozo-Kaé
(NewsWatch Cameroon)-With a population of 3 111 792 people, the Extreme (Far) North Region of Cameroon is the most populated of the ten regions of the country. Though ‘extremely’ populated, the region suffers from extreme dryness, extreme floods, extreme poverty and extreme hunger etc.
The region has eight months of extreme dryness and four months of extreme rainfall, says Kounai Robert, a youth animator in Mbiga-Zidim, a village in Mokolo subdivision of the Mayo Tsanaga Division.
The four months of rain fall are characterized by floods as the region is surrounded by mountains that do not hold the rain, coupled with the fact that the region is a plain. This was confirmed by a visit to Mbozo-Kaé village in the Meri sub division of the Diamare division. Situated some 32 km from Maroua, the chief town of the region, the over 450 people of the village trek for 5km to have drinking water during the dry season.
There, a family head told this reporter that the weather conditions and the sandy soil do not favour farming. This, he said has cause the population of the area whose main activity is farming to remain very poor.
According to Mr Bouba Sodje a family head in Mbozo-Kaé village, for them to grind their millet, they have to trek some five kilometers to Douroum, a neighbouring village. In the same way, for them to fetch water, they depend only on Douroum; likewise when they need health facilities
Ftang Ouzzang is another village in Meri sub division ‘extremely’ inhabited by women. Here, it is the same sorry story. No schools, health centers, potable water, extreme poverty, etc.
The staple food of the entire Extreme (Far) North region of Cameroon is millet. This cereal is very scarce in some parts of the region.
Despite a program by a non governmental organisation, Network for the fight against Hunger and Poverty, RELUFA that makes cereals available to the population of this area, they lack grinding mills, potable water, schools and health centers.
In Moudoumboui village in the Ndoukoula subdivision of the Diamare, the story is same.
Like in Mbozo-Kaé and Ftang Ouzzang, Mr Ndjidda Guilidi an inhabitant of Moudoumboui, said the extremely poor soil fertility of the area does not favour farming which remains their main activity.
In Mbozo-Kaé, families are so poor that a family’s budget for a year hardly exceeds CFA 5000 Frs, says Wabi Djam a family head in the village. With a bag of millet selling at CFA 16000 Frs., it is difficult for these families to acquire this staple food.
The extreme poverty situation, Bouba Sodjé said has lead to extreme rural exodus.
In most of these villages, RELUFA has created community grain banks where villagers borrow cereals during hard times and repay in kind during harvest. This program though appreciated by the beneficiaries cannot completely solve the problems of villagers.
“We need to send our own children to school, grind our millet in Mbozo-Kaé…” says Mr Sali who pleaded with RELUFA to call on government to think of granting them a grinding mill and a school in future.
According to a 2011 World Food Program report, the rate of food insecurity in the Far North region of Cameroon stands at 17.9%, followed by the North with 14.6% while the East region is third with 10.3%.
Besides the natural factors, Sandrine Bikelle, Programs Assistant at RELUFA says structural factors also account for the extreme food insecurity in the Extreme North Region of Cameroon. She argues that poor management of harvests by peasants, illicit exportation of farm produce by peasants and insufficient access to farm inputs by farmers also contribute greatly to the problem of food insecurity that the region faces.
And that is just “the sorry story of Cameroon’s North of Extremes. Blessed be Cameroon.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

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