Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
What are the current issues in Cameroon
Cameroon ranks 150 out of 186 on the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. With a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2,002 per capita, more than 40 percent of the country’s 20 million people live below the poverty line, and 70 percent depend on agro-pastoral activities.
The northern part of Cameroon is located in the Sahelian and Sudanese-Sahelian agro-ecological zones and suffers from poor soil quality, limited rainfall and low crop production.
The North and Far North regions are characterized by high rates of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty and have limited access to healthcare, education and clean water.
Four successive years of natural disasters—droughts in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and floods in 2010 and 2012—resulted in a high rate of crop failure and left the population with small or non-existent stocks for the lean season. These conditions have further widened the gap between food production and national needs.
Cameroon, like other countries in the region, suffered considerably during the Sahel drought crisis in 2012. The conditions put significant pressure on northern populations, and 400,000 people required immediate food assistance. Several months later, heavy rains during the rainy season caused severe flooding, affecting over 60,000 people in the north and far-north regions. The floods damaged households and plantations, forcing many families to abandon their homes.
Fragile political and security conditions in neighboring countries have also significantly affected Cameroon during the past several decades. Since 2005, refugees have flooded into the country from both Central African Republic and Chad; 87,000 refugees now reside in the East and Adamaoua regions and in the Langui Camp in the north.
The escalating conflict in Central African Republic and insecurities in Nigeria have increased the number of refugees seeking shelter in Cameroon during 2013. Many households in the northern regions are still recovering from the recent droughts and floods, and the influx of refugees has put additional pressure on communities already struggling with food insecurity.
Results of the preliminary Standardized Monitoring and Assessment in Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey, undertaken by UNICEF and WFP in November 2012, demonstrate that acute malnutrition continues to be prevalent in the North and Far North regions of the country, with a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 5.5 percent in the North and 6.3 percent in the Far-North.
The chronic malnutrition rates are classified as 'critical' in the North region at 43.3 percent, and in the Far North region at 44.8 percent. The net rate of school attendance for girls in Cameroon is of 77.6 percent and 88.6 percent for boys. Fifteen percent of adults in rural areas in the northern regions have completed their primary school education, and only five percent of women have had access to basic education.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Cameroon
WFP’s activities in Cameroon have three main components: supporting the basic education and enrolment of girls in school, promoting food security and rural development, and improving the nutritional status of the moderately acute malnourished children and pregnant and nursing women. In 2013, WFP Cameroon responded to food insecurity and malnutrition concerns through relief, recovery and development operations (including an Emergency Operation, a Country Programme and a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation) in the eastern and the northern regions of the country.
Emergency Operation (EMOP)
WFP has been carrying out an Emergency Operation since April 2012, providing food and nutrition assistance to more than 300,000 people affected by the Sahel drought crisis and subsequent flooding that plagued northern regions.
The Emergency Operation aimed to:
- improve the food consumption of people affected by drought through general food distributions;
- reduce the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children ages 6-59 months and malnourished pregnant and nursing women through targeted supplementary feeding;and
- prevent acute malnutrition among chronic malnourished children ages 6-23 months and pregnant and nursing women through blanket supplementary feeding.
The operation was later extended to include around 25,000 people affected by the floods in the North and Far-North regions. Due to persisting needs, WFP continued the provision of food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable populations throughout 2013.
Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO)
In addition to domestic issues, Cameroon has received refugees from several neighboring countries, including Chad, Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria. Security deteriorated in these countries during 2013 due to the escalating conflict in Central African Republic and insecurities in Nigeria, increasing the number of refugees in Cameroon. WFP is assisting these populations through a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation.
This operation, launched in October 2013, and will incorporate both the old PRRO and the EMOP, providing long-term assistance to refugees and populations in the North and Far North regions affected by recurrent climatic shocks. In addition to providing food and nutrition assistance, the operation will focus on asset-building activities that will improve community self-sufficiency and resistance to future shocks. The operations consist of two main components:
1. A relief package providing general food distributions to vulnerable CAR and Nigerian refugees as well as nutritional assistance to refugees and host populations;
2. Disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change through Food for Assets activities.
Country Programme (CP)
The Country Programme focuses on assistance to the North and Far-North regions, where frequent climate shocks have left the population trapped in a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. An estimated 615,000 people do not have adequate access to food, and approximately 10 percent of children suffer from acute malnutrition.
The Country Programme is based on three key components. First, WFP plans to provide school meals to 55,000 students in 250 primary schools annually, with a special emphasis on girls. This part of the program targets rural areas and looks to reduce hunger and encourage children to attend class, with the ultimate goal of turning the programme over to the government.
The Country Programme’s second component focuses on improving the resilience of communities. To achieve this aim, WFP will work to improve grain storage capacity of communities, establishing community granaries and training communities in effective food storage techniques.
This program, which will help carry families through the pre-harvest lean season, will benefit 107,500 people on average annually, with the help of an annual contribution of 1,000 metric tons from the Government. Fifty grain storage facilities will be implemented each year. Through its final component, the Country Programme will look to reduce and prevent malnutrition in the North and Far-North through the provision of high-quality nutritious food. This portion of the program will serve18,300 children under five and 6,300 pregnant and nursing women per year.
Featured Cameroon publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Cameroon? Visit the Cameroon publications archive.