AFRICAN CENTER FOR RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE:

REPORT OF INTERNSHIP

FROM 1ST OF MARCH TO 4TH OF JUNE



WRITTEN BY LUISE MEYER

1  Introduction
As part of the study curriculum in the subject geography at the University of Bonn, I was working as an intern with the environmental NGO AFREDECC during the Period from March the 1st until June, the 4th in Cameroon. The objective of this internship was getting to know the functioning of a civil society organization, their role and scope of action in working on societal problems, especially concerning the environment. The choice to work for a Cameroonian organization did  not only originate in my interest of getting to know the country, but also getting an insight in its culture and the way of thinking, as the “African point of view” is a completely different one than the European. In the first phase of the internship, my attention was drawn on the topics women, agriculture and development. The topic “Climate Change” and possible adaptation and mitigation measurements are currently discussed thoroughly in the western world. During my internship it was my objective to see
  1. In what way Cameroonian farmers witness the effects of Climate Change and what they know about it
  2. How farming activities is affected by the effects of Climate Change and the impacts of this on the livelihoods of the rural population
In the second phase the main work was done on a school project for the World Environment Day on 5th of June. 

In contrast to the very common expectation of the “white man” who comes to the development country to teach the “black man” how things work, I was very aware that I am the one who is in the position to learn. I tried to be open, to question, to listen and to see in order to achieve a slight understanding of how things work in this country.
 
2  Presentation of the hosting institution
The African Center for Research Development and Climate Change (AFREDECC) was founded on 17th April 2007 by Ndenge Godden Zama, who is the director of the NGO. Besides him, there are four voluntary staff members who work for AFREDECC. The organization gets funding through project proposals by international companies, foundations and NGOs. Projects which have been carried out successfully until now were
- A youth service learning project: “The Earth, our future, let’s fight to save it!”
- A school outreach about Climate Change
- A campaign against industrial twin trawling in alliance with the NGO “African Alliance for Development Action”

Currently, the staff members are working on a community forest management project in the community of Bimbia, Limbe. Further projects like the “integrated vegetable farming for women” and a project on cassava farming were proposed to donor institutions.

3  First activities with AFREDECC
3.1  Orientation Phase

The first week in Limbe was marked by orientation over the town itself, Cameroonian life and the organization AFREDECC. I was introduced into the different projects the NGO volunteers were working on and I was invited to contribute my own thoughts, doubts and suggestions to the discussed topics right from the beginning. This was for example the integrated farming project for women, combining the cultivation of vegetables with animal keeping. In collaboration with the AFREDECC staff, I worked on a Cassava project, getting first insights in the project writing.

Discussions and Talks to NGO members did have considerable importance for me to get an insight in the Cameroonian culture and ways of thinking. In this way I was given the chance to understand better the way of people to act and behave, which sometimes might seem strange in the European point of view. Local Believes and Traditions can be considered as examples for factors that might be difficult for a European visitor to understand on the first sight, but play an important role in development in this country.

3.2  Community Forest in Bimbia
As AFREDECC stresses the importance of forest maintenance and the planting of tress to fight Climate Change, a trip to the community forest of Bimbia was part of the orientation phase. What we could witness in this forest was the exploitation of the oldest trees which are sold on the local market without government authorization most of the times. The local community forest committee is responsible for authorizations to cut down trees in the community forest. However, until now a sustainable use of the forest is not ensured, as reforestation does not take place and mostly old trees are being felled. Unfortunately it seems that the idea of sustainable use of natural resources, which means not to fell more trees, than replanting, does not seem to have spread yet amongst the local decision makers. In order to ensure future generations in the Bimbia community to have access to the natural resources, training and sensitization on sustainable forest management should take place in this community.

On the same day we also visited the community of Mabeta and the island community of Ijawmboko. In Ijawmboko we were given an audience to the chief as well as meeting some villagers in order to discuss problems of livelihood earning. The economy on this island is mainly dependant on artisan fishing. The villagers complained about difficulties that arose in respect to the appearance of Chinese twin trawlers, which came too close to the fishing area of the artisan fisherman of Ijawmboko. In addition to this, the villagers stated, that the foreign fishing people manipulated the nets of local fisherman. Discussions were made about other income generating activities that are capable of making the community less dependant on fishing. A suggestion on bringing tourism to the small island still seems to require a lot of action, as one cannot find any tourist infrastructure at present. Moreover,  the island inhabitants have to learn the importance of keeping their place clean before thinking about tourism.

3.3  Stay at the Ministry of Environment and the Protection of Nature (MINEP), Divisional Delegation of Mezam, Bamenda
3.3.1  General information

In order to get an insight in activities concerning environment that are taken on the government level in opposition to the NGO level, I spent two weeks in the Divisional Delegation of the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection of Mezam, Bamenda.
The tasks of the divisional delegation consist of
  1. The inspection of environmental standards in restaurants, garages, hotels and companies concerning hygiene, waste- and dirt water disposal
  2. Sensitization of the population on environmental protection through the media or church groups
  3. Supervision of environmental impact assessment procedures and proposed measurements of mitigation which are carried out to ensure sustainable development
Whereas the second two issues in particular also fall in the area of activity of the regional delegation.

However, the Divisional Delegation of MINEP states difficulties with the implementation of environmental protective laws due to lack of means. Concerning the initiation of projects, the divisional delegation is dependant on funding by the ministry or other funding bodies. Projects, f. e. on watershed management do not have space on the agenda. Thus it can be assumed, that the ministry turns out to be little effective on working on important tasks like watershed protection for instance.

3.3.2  Participatory watershed protection in Pinyon-village
One activity in the course of the stay at the MINEP was the attendance of a meeting in Pinyon-village. The participants were the local Development Committee, MINEP delegates of the divisional and regional level as well as a representative of GP-DERUDEP (Grassfield Participatory and Decentralized Rural Development Program). GP-DERUDEP works on a watershed rehabilitation project in the village, which includes the removal of eucalyptus trees in the watershed area and planting of new environmental friendly trees. Reason for discussion in the meeting was a conflict on the water source that the 30.000 community members are dependant on. Agricultural activiti es carried out by a group of farmers in the watershed area lead to several problems in the watershed. Bare soil is being exposed to insulation and rain, which leads to raised evaporation and erosion rates. Furthermore, agricultural activities in the watershed area lead to the pollution of the water body. The objective in this meeting was to find a peaceful solution for the two conflict parties. Consensus ruled over the opinion, that the solution should be a participatory water management strategy, where the accent lies on the villagers themselves. Participants of the meeting like GP-DERUDEP however, should only facilitate the process on finding a solution, but not work on the problem itself.

4  Fieldwork: Women, Agriculture and Climate Change
In the month of March I was given the task of visiting different groups of farming women in the Southwest and Northwest regions of Cameroon in order to get information on the following topics:
Family size
Walking distance to the farms
Crop variety
Farming techniques and existence of water sources for irrigation
Difficulties they are faced with concerning farm work
Difficulties they are faced with in general
Other income generating activities
Role of husbands in supporting the families
Changes in the rain patterns and how this affects outputs
The fieldwork done with those women lead to the conclusion that farming activities are crucial for the survivor of all of those women, including their families. This situation can be seen exemplarily for the biggest part of the rural and even a large part of the urban population in Bamenda. For most women, long walking distances, bad or no existing roads to the farms, lack of vehicles for transportation and farming equipment are everyday business. A further difficulty is access to land. Obstacles like this make farming an exhausting job that most women have to do without support of their husbands. Financial restrictions also result in the lack of seedlings, farm inputs and irrigation systems.

Most of the rural farmers have never heard about “Climate Change”. However they witness effects like irregular and less predictable rainfalls and different seasons. In many cases, planting becomes a financial risk now more than in the past as the weather is less predictable. Worsening farming conditions due to Climate Change will make livelihoods even more difficult for small scale farmers, which make up a large percentage of the Cameroonian population. In Conclusion, there is a need for sensitizing the population on Climate Change and its possible effects, especially on farming. As farming patterns which are applied today might not work under future climatic conditions, there is a need for adaptation strategies. Training on agricultural techniques to better the productivity, as well as access to equipment, land and seedlings, which are more resistant are a further requirement. By improving livelihoods and building capacity to adapt to changing living conditions, it will be more probable, that rural poor can adapt to Climate Change and future suffering will be avoided.

Furthermore, women’s voice in society should be empowered even more, as they play a main role in sustaining the families. But it also has to become clear that women cannot be left alone to shoulder those challenges, but that more support from the male population is needed.

The full report of the fieldwork is given in the annex.

5  Project for World Environment Day
Project abstract

The last part of the internship was filled out by a project for the World Environment Day (WED) in June. On the occasion of this day the organization AFREDECC organized an art- and essay competition with the theme “It’s about OUR future! What youths think about environmental degradation, climate change and the conservation of nature”. Students of eight different secondary schools in Limbe were asked to contribute their thoughts and ideas on the topic in a creative way, by either drawing a painting or writing an essay or poem. The objective of this project was to mobilize the youths to be involved in issues concerning the environment. By raising their awareness on environmental problems and its effects on their own lives, youths should learn to value an intact environment and they should be encouraged to a style of life which is characterized by a careful treatment with nature. Furthermore, we tried to give the youths a voice to express their feelings and opinions in discussions of topics that concern their future by awarding and exposing the best artworks on a public event in the Council Hall on the World Environment Day.

5.2  Activities
On 18th of May the preparations for the World Envir  onment Day started with the production of a project proposal, which was followed by a time list including the planned activities which the project involves. A first newspaper announcement was already published on 6th of April in the Eden news paper, further announcements to the public took place one week before the event on the EDEN radio in form of an interview with AFREDECC. The first contacted person for the project was the Delegate of Environment and Nature Protection in Limbe. Since end of April, we had also contacted several possible sponsors in form of local companies and environmental institutions which are based in Limbe, as well as embassies and environmental agencies in Yaoundé. Difficulties arose, as several contact persons failed to give a reply to appeals for sponsorship we sent out. Repeated tentatives of meeting possible partners turned out to be more time consuming than expected. Parallel to this, we made contact with 11 secondary schools in Limbe, whereas students from eight partly French, partly English institutions finally took part in the competition. In the schools we were either given the opportunity to announce the competition on an assembly, or to talk to the students directly from class to class. On 22nd of May a meeting of all NGOs and institutions, who are involved with environmental topics in Limbe took place in order to coordinate the various activities planned for the week. The meeting led to the conclusion that activities for the WED should be bundled and a common event should take place in the Limbe Council Hall. The next step in the course of the project was the collecting of the essays and artworks from the schools and their invitation to the celebration of the World Environment Day in the Limbe Council Hall. As the students of the NCHS environmental club suggested performing a drama on the environmental event, we tried to support them as much as possible in their initiative. Furthermore, we worked on pursuing prizes and T-shirts, which were promised to the students who took part in the competition. On 4th of June, one day earlier than initially planned, the celebrations for the WED including the prize giving ceremony and a short song performance by NCHS students took place.

5.3  Problems
The timeframe for this project was too short. On the one hand, the students were given very little time to work on their contributions for the competition. On the other hand, possible partners like companies, banks and other institutions need more time for their decisions on funding a project. This resulted in the very decisive problem of funding in this project. The problem of financial resources restricted our scope of action enormously as a considerable part of planned activities within the project could not be carried out due to lack of finances. Due to this we were also dependant on the collaboration with the Delegate of Environment and Protection of Nature on WED. The celebration finally looked completely different than initially planned, as it turned out to be more a political event, giving very little importance to the students.

Concerning the essays themselves, next time it should be ensured, that uniform information on the conditions of the competition will be given to the students. The NGO member who holds the announcements should take a list with all important information that shall be given to the students in order to ensure that no point will be left out. In this competition, not all students were informed about the maximum number of words in the essays and some were not told to write their personal data on the submitted works. In addition to this, I would stress the aspect of creativity more in following projects like this one. Essays became very “school-like”, rather containing scientific explanations on “soil erosion” for example, than own thoughts, ideas and feelings as we expected. In the next years students could be asked for example to take part in a “story-writer competition”.

Furthermore, for a big event like WED it seems to be more effective to have a broad coalition than a large number of small organizations who carry out different activities isolated from each other. At least however, a meeting of all NGOs in an earlier phase of the project would have been very helpful to coordinate the day and activities in a better way.

5.4  Conclusion of WED project
Reading about 25 essays, written by students between 12 and 21, it became obvious, that some students have a very detailed notion about the interrelations within an ecosystem as well as themes like pollution, soil erosion, deforestation amongst others and their effects.
Little information, or rather confusion seems to rule concerning the topic climate change in many times.  Many times, students drew their attention on “big polluters”, like companies or even industrialized agriculture in developed countries, whereas masses of garbage on the roads and in the streams often do not seem to be perceived as pollution.

In reference to the planning it can be said that the size of the project should be in accordance to the financial scope of action of the NGO, the number of people involved in organization and their experience. Having close and permanent contact to a small number of students seems to be more effective, than contacting as many schools as possible and not being able to show presence from time to time.
In general, small projects, with a small required budget are preferable in the phase of the beginning.

6  Conclusion
In the course of my stay in became obvious, that governmental institutions alone are not able to face the task of managing natural resources, educating the population on environmental issues and taking measures of mitigation and adaptation to changing conditions of the climate. NGOs play an important role and could effectuate even more if efforts of single small organizations were bundled more. In many cases,  the scope of action is being limited due to lack of funding. Concerning the project for WED undoubtedly the biggest difficulty we were confronted with were financial restrictions.

Being an intern at AFREDECC was confronted with many new tasks, challenges and situations and I was given a lot of freedom to contribute my own ideas in discussions within the NGO staff. Taking over responsibility in my own project I learned a lot about the difficulties and functionalities that a project involves. Altogether I had an interesting time and the work wit AFRIDECC was not only full of personal experiences, but will also help me in my professional career in the field of environment and development in the future.

7  Annex
7.1  Fieldwork report: Small scale farming and the effects of Climate Change on rural livelihoods in the Northwest region of Cameroon

Introduction: Climate Change, farming women and why we talk about it:

Especially for farming people, who are directly dependant on the natural environment, the effects of Climate Change are becoming obvious more and more. This research has been carried out in Bamenda, the Northwestregion of Cameroon, which is a main region for agricultural production. However, the effects of Climate Change are not less obvious in other parts of the country. This was demonstrated in another research taking place in Bosombu, Limbe, Southwest region, were interviews with women demonstrated similar problems as in Bamenda.

The objectives of this research were to answer the questions:
1. Of what problems small scale farmers, especially women, face in sustaining their livelihoods
2. How climate change affects farming activities and even engraves the situation they are confronted with.

As a consequence of traditional gender rules, it is Cameroonian women who work on the farms, earning the living for the family as a whole most of the time. Since women play such an important part in sustaining the families by farming, major interest is being paid on their experience with agriculture and general problems they have to deal with. In the first paragraph of this report, an association of women in Mankon village, Bamenda, is being described specifically, including their activities and special farming techniques. This is followed by a presentation of the results of three interviews, which were carried out with the Ntankah women group in Mankon village, the  Nasara Women group in Sabga and a women group in Fingue. Supported by a translator, the three women groups gathered in order to answer questions concerning farming activities and perception of changing climatically conditions. From this information, some final conclusions and recommendations will be drawn at the end of the report.   

Ntankah women group, Mankon village
Date of visit: 19th of March, 2009

Organization and activities of the Group:
The association Ntankah women’s group was founded by Madam Vero, who is now the group president. The group belongs to a larger network of women groups worldwide which is called “Groots”. The Ntankah women’s group consists of 24 members. Weekly meetings are held in order to discuss problems, give every member the chance to mention his thoughts and inspirations and to take decisions concerning the project by the group as a whole. This is for example the election of one woman who should take part in training or the decision about new women as members. In this way the functioning of the group and its success in working together as a team can be ensured. As capacity building is an important part of the project, regular trainings on farming techniques take place. The woman, elected by the group to take part in the training, is in charge to share her newly acquired knowledge to the group afterwards. In this way a large number of women can profit from those trainings, which is one advantage of being organized in a group.

Farming activities on a group farm, as well as on individual plots belong to the main income-generating activities of the group. Other smaller activities are for example. the production of soap to wash and to color cloth. Furthermore, the group provides a tailoring workshop for needy children and gives financial support to non-associated women in need like it is the case for widows.

Farming:
The women have their individual farms as well as a communitarian group farm, where the residues are shared in between the group. As it is the fact on the group farm, women also carry out farm work as a group on their individual farms, whereas a fee is put upon those who fail this service. As mentioned by Madam Vero, the advantages of work in a group lie in the higher velocity in which work is being done and also the possibility to exchange ideas within the group. In conclusion it can be said that working as a group may not only raise efficiency, but also the level of motivation of each member.

Besides growing crops, there are also animals being held. This has, besides being another source for food and income production, several positive side effects. A number of 10 pigs and about 10 “cane rats” provide organic manure for the fields being part of the organic type of farming which is practiced. A skit for about 300 chickens is under construction. Complications with the animals surged, when a disease resulted in the death of all pigs one year ago. In order to prevent further happenings like this, a fence was constructed to keep away animals from the pig skit. At the moment it is tried to reproduce a larger number of pigs, so that they can be shared to the group members. To ensure the best development possible for the animals they are fed with a special recommended diet.

Efforts on reproduction of “cane rats” are also a measurement to protect this species, which is not only a popular food deliverer, but also a species under threat.

Besides the application of animal manure, compost and special plants like leguminous plants are used on the fields to better soil fertility. Compost can be produced out of the cleared grass, which is covered by soil and with the starting rain gets rotten. The application of these techniques are a simple, but effective way in organic farming to better the soil fertility and structure. In this way, farming activities are independent from the need to buy chemical fertilizers from elsewhere, which would not be affordable anyway.

Financial support was given by the UNDP to buy the animals, for construction of the skits and fences, capacity building to domesticate animals etc. The initiative for these activities however comes from the women association itself. Capacity building of the women, who share their knowledge within the group continuously, is one of the big strengths of this association. 

The interview with 11 women took place on the field during a short break from their farm work activities.

The distances between homes and farms are about one to two hours walk. At least 10 persons per household have to be sustained by the women’s agricultural activities, which is the only source of income for all of them. Concerning the crop variety, corn, beans, groundnut, cassava, potato, cocoyam, yam, soybean, egusi and pumpkin are cultivated, where potato, beans and corn can be grown twice a year. These crops are adapted to this natural environment, whereas crops they wished to plant as plantains, palms, pineapple and orange would not do well because of the low temperatures.

Farming techniques include clearing and forming ridges with the cleared grass, application of compost, animal manure and leguminous plants. The so-called technique of “Ankara”, which means the burning of grass inside the soil, is absolutely avoided. As it destroys biomass and microorganisms entirely and makes the soil unfertile for the next years, there have been a lot of sensitization campaigns against it. This has led to a lower number of cases, where this technique still is being applied today.

Although women have no information about Climate Change, they witness strong changes with the rainfalls since last year. As a result, they complain about decreasing outputs and the risk that seeds get dry inside the soil once they are planted and rain fails to come. Planting therefore becomes a financial risk now.  Seasons and rains become unpredictable whereas there were distinct periods of rain and dryness in the past.

Besides this, women complain about the hard work they are faced with every day. Long distances, lack of vehicles for transportation, farming equipment like good hoes, watering cans, matches, and wheelbarrows make work still more complicated. A tap or pump for irrigation is also missing. Another big hurdle is the financial means to require good quality seedlings, as the access to loans from the banks is difficult. As a result, the micro financing of the project is being made more complicated.
Altogether, especially the three months between planting and harvesting are a period of economical crisis within the families. This situation is even becoming engraved due to Climate Change. As a result of this, the hope of these women is the modernization of their agricultural practices to raise the yields and in this way better their livelihoods. Concerning their husbands, traditional gender roles result in the situation that few support their wives, neither with other income activities, nor on the farms themselves, where the maximum is to help clearing the fields.

Madame Vero, the president of the group mentioned that even some traditions, which inhibit development have to be changed, whereas a lot of dialogue is needed and change must be seen as a long process. In the end she stressed the need for networking between the various groups which is still a problem. Discussions are important to exchange solutions to problems they might have in common, which is why she demanded a forum to make this possible. Furthermore she mentioned that more representation on the national and international level is necessary for women groups like hers, in order to give a voice to problems and needs of this group.

Nasara Women group in Sabga and Fingue women
20 st and 21st of March, 2009

 
Families usually have an average of 10 members, maximum 15 members due to polygamy. Some man of both villages own cattle, which is another source of income besides farming. A small dairy processing can be found in Sabga, which can provide further income to the villagers when sold to customers coming from outside. In both groups, which belong to the tribe of Fulani, men were acting as the speaking organ for all women, while women could not speak English as they are sent to schools only in the last years. 

As people live in the village and therefore close to their farms, the distances are not farer than 30 minutes walking. However, there are no means of transportation for the harvested crops to the markets, especially in the case of the Fingea, which is located about 30 minutes walking outside the village.

Crops, people liked to cultivate are tomato, cabbage, onions (Fingea women) and groundnut yellow yam, tomato and spices (Nasara women). Even though these crops are adapted to the natural environment, there is access to water to irrigate and animal manure which could act as an organically fertilizer, it is not possible for the groups to cultivate them as a cause of lacking training and means to buy seeds.
Women in Fingea, besides traditional methods as clearing, forming ridges and planting, avoid burning the soil, use manure from the cattle and also apply contour farming. This can be seen as a success of ongoing sensitization and training activities for organic farming carried out by local NGOs.

Changes in rainfalls also make farming more difficult for people in Fingea and Sabga, as it is was already mentioned in other cases. Further problems surge, as the herders used to burn the dry grass to give new grass the chance to grow and also avoid ticks. Rains in the dry season now pose a problem as the grass does not get dry. In addition, livestock is affected negatively. In respect to climatically changes, people in Sabga also report higher temperatures, as well as drying streams and the occurrence of a larger number of mosquitoes than before.

Besides the missing roads to the village, where they sell some of their surplus crops, problems Fingue people mentioned are low market prices. Additionally, they are dependent on one stream which serves for drinking water, as well as for irrigation, which is just enough to manage now, but could cause problems in the future. Further problems herders report are conflicts over land with farmers, who enter herders’ areas.

In Sabga, lack of good quality seeds, farming equipment and chemicals are problems people face in agriculture. A secondary school to educate their children is missing as well.

The two villages are located in the Tuba upland watershed, which is an important water source for the region. Campaigns with locals and NGOs to protect that area from burning forest and farming in order to ensure the sustainability of that watershed have taken place.

Currently there is an UNDP funded project in collaboration with a local NGO on pasture improvement (Desmodium, Brakeria, Stylosanthes or Guatamala) and ethno-vetenarian plant species, which can be collected in the surrounding areas. Again, capacity-building is one of the most important components. People are trained to identify and cultivate respective plants, so that after the first harvest they can share the seeds (in case of pasture improvement), collect them in the surroundings by themselves (in case of enthno-vetenarian plants) and cultivate them in their own plots. In Fingea the project is still in the beginning phase.
In Sabga, seeds for pasture improvement were already harvested on the demonstration plot last year, after some difficulties in the beginning phase (“people were not used to work in a group”, according to one of the trainers).

Generally spoken, those two groups, besides being confronted with above mentioned difficulties in earning their livelihoods, they are also a marginalized group and therefore even might deserve more attention.  

Conclusion: Climate Change, rural poverty and what could be done about it

Farming activities in the above presented cases are crucial for the survivor of all groups, including their families. This situation can be seen exemplarily for the biggest part of the rural and even a large part of the urban population in Bamenda, where other income-generating activities besides farming are very rare.
 
In the current situation, women already have to struggle hard in order to supply enough means to sustain their families with food and other facilities for living like schoolbooks, cloths etc. The situation is being complicated by lack of means for transportation, to buy farming equipment and good seedlings as well as long distances from the houses to the farms or markets.

Although there is little information on Climate Change, the effects like irregular and less predictable rainfalls and different seasons are witnessed by the farmers. As a consequence of this, farming conditions are worsening and will make livelihoods even more difficult in the future.

The result is a need for sensitization on Climate Change and its possible effects, especially on agriculture. Training on agricultural techniques to better the productivity, as well as access to equipment and seedlings, which are more resistant are a further requirement. Since land will continuously get scarcer in the future due to population pressure, it is important to train people on sustainable land usage to avoid soil degradation and deforestation etc. In addition, more information on marketing of the products could also help to raise revenues. 

Diversification of income through training on other income activities could help to make people less dependant on farming as the only means to sustain their families, especially in times of difficulties in farming i.e. the period between planting and harvesting or failing rainfalls.

Another point is the need to organize the land tenure so that there is incentive to manage the land in a sustainable way and also to avoid further conflicts between herders and farmers.

By improving livelihoods and building capacity to adapt to changing living conditions, it will be more probable, that rural poor can adapt to Climate Change and future suffering will be avoided.

Women play a main role in sustaining the families, their role in society therefore should be empowered and their rights strengthened. Since possibilities to change something are limited for a single person, it is of striking importance that women organize themselves and collaborate to face difficulties as a group in a more effective way. As men are still involved too little in supporting their families either with their own income, or on the farms in many cases, they have to be made aware that their support for the family is needed.

Altogether, changing small things can be very effective already to better the situation for many people. Raising awareness for environmental issues and building their capacity should be the most important parts in fighting for better living conditions and adaptation to Climate Change. 

7.2  Article: Rains in the dry season and the future challenges for agriculture in Cameroon

“Formerly, there were three to four months without rains during the dry season. In this year, rains came every month”. This observation, made by a farmer in the Fingea community, Bamenda, is what many Cameroonians are confused about this year. According to the farmers in the Northwest region, rainy season starts by March and ends in October every year, but the seasons seem to become different. Farming activities are directly dependant on the natural environment. Thus, changes in climatic patterns like irregular rainfall and the resulting uncertainty seems to make farming a more difficult job than before.

Cameroonian farming and Climate Change
Although most of the rural farmers have never heard about “Climate Change”, it is probably its effects that farmers in the Northwest and Southwest Region of Cameroon witness. According to the Ntankah women group, an association of farming women in Mankon village, Bamenda, there has been strong changes with the rains this year. Outputs decrease and seeds get dry once they are planted if rain fails to come on the expected date. For the farming women, effects like this are reason to be worried about the changing conditions. And it is probably the largest part of the population, which faces new difficulties in farming. Whereas there used to exist distinct periods of rain and dryness in the past, now it seems to be rainy in the dry season and dry in the rainy season today. In many cases, planting becomes a financial risk now more than in the past as the weather is less predictable. A further phenomenon, which people in the Sabga village report, is the drying of streams. However, not only changing climatic conditions are likely to be source of this problem, but also wrong management of the natural resources on the local level.

“Every Cameroonian is a farmer”
Today, agricultural activities play the most important role in sustaining many families in Cameroon, as other sources of income are rare. As a consequence of traditional gender rules, it is women who work on the farms, earning the living for the family as a whole in rural areas. For most women, long walking distances, bad or no existing roads to the farms, lack of vehicles for transportation and farming equipment are everyday business. A further difficulty is access to land. Obstacles like this make farming an exhausting job that most women have to do without support of their husbands. Financial restrictions also result in the lack of seedlings, farm inputs and irrigation systems. In this situation, worsening conditions for farming due to Climate Change will make the living situation even more complicated in the future for many families.

Challenges of tomorrow
As seasons become less clearcut and temperatures are going to increase; it is a matter of fact, that there is a need for sensitizing the population on Climate Change and its possible effects, especially on farming. Farming patterns which are applied today might not work under future climatic conditions, thus it is necessary to think about strategies on how to adapt to this now.

Different crop varieties or irrigation systems could become a necessity in the future. To ensure food security, training on agricultural techniques to better the productivity, as well as access to farmland, equipment and seedlings are required. A raising population makes sustainable land and water management strikingly important- which is also an argument for the need of a better organization of the land tenure system. Only when property rights are clearly defined, the incentive to manage the land sustainable is given and conflicts for example between herders and croppers can be avoided. In addition, more information on marketing opportunities of agricultural products could help to raise revenues. Diversification of income through training on other income generating activities (IGA) helps people being less dependant on farming, especially in the difficult period between planting and harvesting or failing rainfalls. Since possibilities to change something are limited for a single person, it is important that farmers organize themselves and collaborate to face difficulties as a group in a more effective way.

As women play a main role in sustaining the families, consequently, their voice in society should be empowered even more. However, farming conditions will become more difficult caused by environmental change- it has to become clear that women cannot be left alone to shoulder those challenges, but that more support from the male population is needed.

Sustainable land use as a responsibility
Although Climate Change is a global phenomenon, a lot of environmental problems have their roots on a smaller scale. Water pollution, deforestation and soil degradation are examples for processes caused by human activity on the local level in many cases. To ensure that future generations will still have access to intact natural resources, sustainable use is responsibility we have. To obtain this, a participatory and decentralized approach should be the best option. In the end of the eighties, the UN-Commission of environment and development already stated, that poverty, underdevelopment and destruction of nature are interrelated and inseparable. This is the reason, why none of these aspects can be fought against without concerning the others.