Heifer's Work in Cameroon
State of the African FarmerThe State of the African Farmer report has been produced as a contribution to the great debate on agriculture and food security in Africa. It is a compilation of views and voices of farmers, practitioners, policymakers and academics across Africa and beyond, each speaking from the heart and sharing their experience.
Cameroon is a central African nation found in the Sahel region, the zone of transition between the Sahara Desert and the Savanna. The climate ranges from tropical along the coast to semi-arid and hot in the north.
The European presence in Cameroon was initially limited to coastal trade as malaria prevented any significant settlement of the country’s interior. It wasn’t until 1884, after large quantities of quinine, a malaria suppressant, became available, that Germany colonized and named the country “Kamerun”. Under the League of Nations, post-World War I Cameroon was partitioned between France and England, with France given larger geographical share. After a brief armed struggle in 1955 led by the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon, French Cameroon gained independence in 1960 and was officially named Republic of Cameroon. The following year the largely Muslim northern two-thirds of British Cameroon voted to separate and join Nigeria and the largely Christian southern third voted to join the Republic of Cameroon.
Cameroon is a young country that has yet to establish adequate infrastructure. It is estimated that 48 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
Cameroon is a young country that has yet to establish adequate infrastructure. Roads connecting urban centers to rural areas are few. The unemployment rate is at 30 percent, and with seven out of 10 young people under-employed, the government is making employment, particularly among young people, a priority. Cameroon is ranked 150th on the 2011 Human Development Index, and it is estimated that 48 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
Poverty in Cameroon is largely a rural phenomenon; 55 percent of the country’s poor live in rural areas. About half of the people living in poor households are women and children under the age of 15.
Job creation among the rural poor is a step to alleviating poverty in Cameroon. Heifer Cameroon began its work in country by focusing on the dairy industry. Since then, Heifer has expanded to include other livestock species and varied livelihood strategies in its projects, to assist resource-poor families in six of Cameroon’s 10 regions.
Heifer Cameroon works in collaboration with other NGOs and state institutions like the Ministry of Livestock and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in order to reach even more of the resource-poor and vulnerable population. Heifer Cameroon is Heifer International’s oldest program in West Africa. It began its operations in 1974 and has assisted over 30,000 families.