From worry to well-being


How chickens are providing hope for crisis-hit communities in Cameroon

The victims of the socio-political crisis in Cameroon are smiling again thanks to an unlikely source of hope: chickens. ©FAO/Daniel Mvondo

10/07/2020

With a spring in her step, Jasinta starts the day by going to her farm in Bokwango, southwest Cameroon. Every morning she gets up, checks on her chickens, feeds them and fills their trough. A mother of four, Jasinta is a role model for many in her neighbourhood - admired for the chickens that she proudly raises and sells.

Her new business is the product of an FAO initiative helping vulnerable people in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, which are currently facing a socio-political crisis. Insecurity and growing violence in these regions are forcing people to leave their homes for other parts of the country. In areas where the population depends heavily on agriculture for their livelihoods, the upsurge of violence has also resulted in a significant decline in agricultural production and rising prices for staple foods.

Offering help to those in need

Jasinta, who has lived in this part of Cameroon for 10 years, offers the warmth of her home to 12 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled their homes due to the conflict.

"It all started in late 2016. Things were really bad for our brothers in the country. As the wife of the chief of my locality, I decided to get involved to alleviate their suffering. I received two, then four, and currently, there are twelve people at home," she says.

FAO’s initiative in the region, the Food Security Improvement Project for the Affected Population, is working to boost livelihoods and agricultural activities, such as chicken farming, to help reinforce food security. The project helps IDPs, hosts, refugees and returnees impacted by the crisis in the southwest and northwest regions of Cameroon.

"The Organization gave me 40 broilers [chickens raised for meat], the equipment needed and training to raise them. FAO peaked my interest in this activity of which I knew almost nothing," she says. “After my first sale, I was surprised by the profits I earned and I decided to invest a little more in this area.”

The initiative offered 1 000 households support in chicken farming and egg selling. Funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UNCERF), the FAO project, in 2019 alone, distributed 10 000 laying hens, 20 000 broilers, 100 tonnes of poultry feed and equipment for the construction of 1 000 poultry production units. Thanks to FAO’s guidance, in a very short time the displaced people and those in their host communities have gone from being farming novices to real livestock professionals.

"I started with 40 broilers that FAO gave me and today I have 600. I expanded my farm, and my business is flourishing. This activity allows me to pay for school fees and vocational training for the internally displaced persons in my care,” Jasinta said.

Linda (left), and Internally Displaced Person, and Jasinta (right), a host community member, tending to their chickens as part of the FAO project in Cameroon. ©FAO/Daniel Mvondo

Boosting livelihoods and food security

In times of conflict, it is natural for people to move from their homes in search of security. Joyce, an internally displaced person, relocated from Kake in southwest Cameroon to Bokwango with her four children.

"It had become impossible to live in Kake,” she explains. “There was shooting all the time. Life had become very hard for us there, especially for my children who are still very young. So I decided to leave everything to settle here in Bokwango.”

 “With the profits from the sale of my eggs, I expanded my business to raise broilers. Thanks to them [the broilers], we eat and sell them to create income and support ourselves. I feel more secure.”

This project allows families to generate income to cover their basic needs and helps prevent malnutrition, as eggs are rich in nutrients and protein.

With UNCERF funding and technical support from FAO, project beneficiaries produce eggs and sell them in local markets. © FAO/Daniel Mvondo

The project has made real progress in improving the food security of internally displaced persons and their host communities. In fact, it has been so successful that the project will support an additional 1 250 households through egg production and market gardening, the growing and selling of produce on land to make a profit. The next stage will place special emphasis on the inclusion of people with disabilities, who account for 10 percent of the beneficiaries.

Internal displacement is a major cause of hunger and food insecurity for many across the world. FAO projects like this aim to reduce the burden of conflict by empowering both victims and host communities and improving livelihoods with better access to agricultural resources. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must work to reduce conflict and support rural communities in crisis to be resilient and self-reliant, even in the toughest of circumstances.


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2. Zero hunger, 8. Decent work and economic growth, 15. Life on land