In North West Cameroon, more than half of people survive on less than $1.25 per day and life expectancy is below 55 years of age. Climate change, environmental degradation and an expanding population has exacerbated poverty for crop farming and cattle herding communities. There is increasing competition over access to land and water between Mbororo herders (a semi-nomadic marginalised minority) and subsistence farmers. This has led to conflict and hostility between the two communities and in extreme cases, people have been killed.
Village Aid works in partnership with local human rights organisation MBOSCUSA (Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association of Cameroon). Our five year Big Lottery funded programme, ‘In Search of Common Ground’, is working to reduce conflict. Launched in August 2013, we will improve the lives of over 14,000 people over five years.
Through a number of innovations in natural resource management and community dialogue, Village Aid will reduce conflict, encourage community cohesion and combat poverty. Innovations include:
Village Aid builds the capacity of local organisations in Africa to make them more sustainable and independent. We provide strategic advice on many aspects of running a successful organisation including fundraising, financial management and project evaluation. We are helping MBOSCUDA to deliver vital services including paralegal support which promotes the rights of Mbororo people as a marginalised minority.
Dialogue platforms are community meetings facilitated by specially trained members of the cattle herding and crop farming communities. The two groups come together to resolve conflict peacefully. For instance, a crop farmer may want to make a complaint about damage to crops caused by cattle. Before the Dialogue Platforms were in place, such incidents quickly escalated, often leading to violence against both humans and animals. The meetings have also enhanced understanding and good will and improved longer-term relations between farming and herding communities.
Natural Resource Management
Cattle herders and crop farmers are being taught environmentally friendly ways to support their households and livelihoods. Explore each tab below to find out how.
In the dry season, women and children had to walk hours to the nearest water source and girls were often late for school. Streams and rivers were vulnerable to pollution from cattle and water-borne diseases including typhoid and diarrhoea were common.
Clean and safe water is therefore being delivered to project sites through water catchment protection initiatives. Cattle are being kept away from specific areas through fencing and trees will be planted to act as barriers to water leakage. Cattle will use separate drinking troughs to avoid contamination and taps will be installed for easy and hygienic water access. Water Management Committees have been established to manage these processes and ensure the needs of the whole community are represented.
Women and girls in particular have benefitted, including people like Aishatu (pictured left) who lives in a Ndop village.
Instead of coming into conflict over access to fertile land – a precious and depleting resource – cattle herders and crop farmers can both benefit by taking it in turns to access the same piece of land.
After the growing season, an area of land used for crops is fenced off and cattle use the enclosed land for grazing. It only takes about a month for the nutrients and minerals in the cattle urine and manure to fertilise the soil, making it much more productive for the coming season’s crops. Grazers benefit too, as the crop growing land contains tiny shoots of new plants which are highly nutritious for the animals. Both crop farmers and cattle herders increase their yields by sharing access to land.
The grazer (pictured in red) is now in demand – lots of farmers want him to graze his cattle on their land. The crop farmer used to buy expensive artificial fertilisers but now her land is fertilised by the cattle manure, which is more effective and doesn’t cost her anything!
Biogas is created through a process known as bio-digestion, and can be carried out on a small scale, with just two wheelbarrow loads of manure creating enough gas for a fortnight’s worth of cooking. The manure is stirred with a stick in an open container like this before being transferred to a tank where bio-digestion takes place.
Please watch our short film to find out more about the project…
“So much has changed since Village Aid helped us complete the water project here. The children used to have to walk very far to collect water. They were late for school so their education was affected. Diarrhoea was a big problem. We often had to fight to get water…The change in our lives is so marvellous that I have no words to express our happiness and gratitude about that has been done. You have changed lives, especially for women.”Aishatu, A village in Ndop, North-West Cameroon