Arrival of lean season calls for scale-up of WFP operations in Cameroon

 Recipients of WFP’s general food distribution in the village of Hiélelé.  WFP / Josefin Barck 

The arrival of the lean season this month is exacerbating conditions in the Far North region of Cameroon.  400,000 people are estimated to be affected by the food and nutrition crisis.  

“WFP is supporting the Government of Cameroon with relief assistance.  In June, we launched the first part of the general food distribution, targeting more than 200,000 people directly affected by crop failure and livestock losses and who are in need immediate food assistance,” said Jacques Roy, WFP Country Director of Cameroon. “Maize, peas, fortified oil and salt are being provided.”

The Far North region is repeatedly exposed to weather-related shocks, most recently floods in 2010 and droughts in 2009 and 2011.  At the end of last year, the Government of Cameroon declared an emergency situation in the region due to a significant drop in cereal production following poor rainfall.

The ongoing lean season is aggravating malnutrition rates in a region already suffering from the cumulative effects of food insecurity, poverty and critical levels of global chronic and acute malnutrition.

In the coming months, WFP will provide targeted supplementary feeding (TSF) to treat more than 46,000 moderately acute malnourished children under the age of 5 and more than 12,000 moderately acute malnourished pregnant and nursing women. 

To prevent acute malnutrition, blanket supplementary feeding (BSF) will be provided to more than 24,000 children under the age of 2 and to more than 17,000 pregnant and nursing women.

In coordination with WFP, UNICEF will provide training, equipment and support for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.

Logistics challenges  

WFP faces considerable logistical challenges in delivering food assistance, especially during the upcoming rainy season. 

“Some villages where WFP distributes food are hardly accessible because of the risk of vehicles getting stuck in mud or being blocked with sand,” said Jacques Roy. 

Despite muddy roads and heavy rainfalls, WFP has successfully distributed 348 tons of food as a part of its general food distributions to more than 21,000 people in June in the Logone and Chari areas.

WFP is also planning a new country programme for 2013-2017, which will integrate WFP efforts to address malnutrition in both Cameroon’s North and Far North regions through a more integrated and longer-term approach.

“In addition, the emergency response includes a prevention activity to avoid a further deterioration of nutrition status for the most vulnerable,” said Jacques Roy.