Cameroon is a low-income, food deficit country (LIFDC). It has 16 million inhabitants, with an annual demographic growth rate of 2.8 percent. Cameroon is ranked 144th out of 177 countries in the 2007 Human Development Report. 40.2 percent of its 16 million people live below the poverty line of one US dollar per day of which 52.1 percent are in rural areas.
The northern part of the country which is located in the Sahelian and Sudano-Sahelian agro-ecological zones has suffered from food crises over the last three decades as a result of natural and man-made disasters and the growing impoverishment of the rural population.
A comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis conducted in 2007 found that poor agricultural production, low education and income levels, and inadequate infrastructure are responsible for vulnerability and food insecurity in the northern provinces of Cameroon.
WFP’s operations in Cameroon comprise activities aimed at helping reduce poverty in a sustainable manner by promoting basic education and increasing food security through the creation of assets for the most vulnerable households. Interventions target the three provinces of the north, whose situation is critical in terms of education, agricultural production and the nutritional condition of the population.
WFP provides food aid to primary schools, improves food security for at-risk populations by setting up community cereal granaries, and improves rural infrastructure through food-for-work (FFW) activities while also working, through an emergency operation, with Central African Republic and Chadian refugees. WFP is assisting over 200,000 people in Cameroon.
The country programme has two components:
- Food assistance to primary schools in the extreme north and Adamaoua Provinces. This activity cover the provinces in the north where access to education poses an economic problem for the most under-privileged households and is reflected in the enrolment rates, which are lower than 30 percent. A total of 53 000 students each year receive daily meals, and take-home food rations will be distributed to families who allow their daughters to attend the last three grades of the primary school cycle.
- Food security and rural development in the extreme north and north provinces. Targeting the two most food insecure provinces, this activity is aimed at fighting the deficit that results from cereal speculation and at ensuring food production, a task that is traditionally assumed by women. The activity comprises the building and management of 200 cereal granaries of 20 and 40 tons each, which is entrusted mainly to women’s groups and the construction of 96 hydro-agricultural works and rural access roads through Food for Work activities.
Emergency Food Assistance to Central African and Chadian refugees: There are two refugee caseloads in Cameroon: a group from the Central African Republic which started arriving in 2005, and a group from Chad which arrived from 1 February 2008. WFP is providing monthly rations through general food distribution to refugees, and vulnerable groups will also be targeted through nutritional ad therapeutic feeding centres.
The objective of the operation is to save lives and protect livelihoods in emergency situations. The main outcomes will be reduced acute malnutrition and mortality in the refugee populations. WFP will also provide support to selective feeding programmes targeting malnourished children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women for both refugees and host population.
The School Meals project is implemented only in the local public community schools of the rural areas in the northern provinces. In cooperation with the country office, the Ministry of Basic Education coordinates the implementation strategy at both central and regional levels.
For the cereal banks and Food for Work, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development oversees the monitoring and coordination of activities and the selection of beneficiaries. Technical support for the construction and management of granaries is provided by experienced NGOs (both national and international).
A participatory approach makes it possible for beneficiaries to be involved in the different stages of the planning and implementation process, on the basis of their needs, priorities and objectives.