Cameroon: Village granaries beat hunger season
The three key holders at a WFP-supported village granary in Cameroon’s Far North unlock a small warehouse for sales during the lean season, when food runs short.
- Felicite Sengram is secretary of the Zidim village granary near Maroua on the edge of the drought-hit Sahel region. Villagers can “withdraw” food during the July-October lean season and “pay it back” when their own harvest comes in.
The idea builds on the tradition of family granaries like this one, where Dawai Saratou Ayouba stores peanuts, millet and beans. With village granaries the whole community can beat the hunger season by saving during the harvest and getting a “loan” in hard times.
WFP helps women like Habi Musa set up village granaries with 10 metric tons of grain which forms the basis of a cereal bank. Women make up 90 percent of the management committees of the 410 WFP granaries in Cameroon.
With financial support from the European Community, WFP has trained women on the management committees in food storage, book-keeping etc. More than 300,000 people have benefitted from the granaries.
Collateral in the shape of a goat: When Jean Haman Kadangaba ran out of money and had no food in the house, he turned to the village granary. He had no grain to offer so the steering committee accepted one of his animals as a deposit.
Didim Hapsatou, 57, Treasurer of the GIC Agropastoral, Mbarang village granary, also remembers going hungry. She used the granary to deposit surplus grain and take out small cash loans to buy clothes and schoolbooks for her grandchildren
Members meet to discuss how they can use profits from the granary to finance projects for the village. In Mbarang, they have bought a milling machine and helped set up a school.
Jean Haman Kadangaba, 68, a retired evangelist, pictured with his wife, Damaris, 62, remembers good times and bad times. In 1998, people died from hunger in Zidim during a terrible drought.
Hadja Kingui Balkissa of FOREDEN NGO, is a WFP cooperating partner who helps give training and guidance on the Village Granaries project in Adamaoua region.
Yvette Miste, brewer, farmer and mother of six, used the GIC Watroumsa village granary to save up grain to brew more local beer and with the profit paid for school supplies for her daughter.
While drought ravages swathes of eastern Africa, on the other side of the continent many communities in Cameroon’s dry north have set up village granaries to help them through the lean season. Supported by WFP, the granaries are mostly run by women.