Water Quality in Cameroon
With 663 million individuals who lack access to clean water, it is apparent that the condition of water in many places around the world is very poor. Cameroon, a country located in Central Africa, is one of those places. However, water quality in Cameroon has improved in the last decade.

In both rural and urban areas, people suffer because of the poor water quality in Cameroon. In more rural areas, people walk great distances just to reach rivers. They do not only use rivers to gather water to drink but to bathe as well. These rivers are often contaminated with feces and a plethora of pathogens, making the water unsafe for both drinking and hygienic purposes.

In the capital city of Yaoundé, only 35 percent of the water needed for survival is distributed through pipes. That percentage is simply not enough to provide for an entire city. Individuals are then forced to travel to and navigate rural areas and search for rivers to collect water. Some of the people that live in cities possess a filter that can purify the water that they collect, but not everyone is that fortunate.

Drinking unsanitary water leads to diarrheal diseases, such as cholera. The World Health Organization reports that there are at least 1.3 million cholera cases yearly in Cameroon.

Although the poor water quality in Cameroon is a severe issue, efforts are being made to improve it. Individuals like Franck Eben Onambele, a Cameroon native, are making a difference. Onambele is a Cornell University alumnus and founder of the program One Summer, One Well, which focuses on building wells in Cameroon to provide potable water.

Besides Onambele’s work, there are also plans to use the Sanaga River for pipe-borne water. Utilizing the Sanaga River could nearly double the clean water supply for the people of Yaoundé.

Some efforts being made to better Cameroon’s water quality have proven to be successful. From the start to the end of the Millennium Development Goals, access to better water sources in the country increased by a total of 19 percent. While there has been an improvement in the water quality in Cameroon, much work is necessary for the future.

Raven A. Rentas

Photo: Flickr

With increasing conflict in neighboring countries, Cameroon must find a way to safely house its refugees and find a solution to the increasing food shortage. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Cameroon.

10 Facts About Refugees in Cameroon

  1. In July 2005, a law was created to reflect the Cameroonian tradition of taking in foreigners. This justified the migration of thousands of refugees into Cameroon, fleeing abuse and violence in their own countries. There are three categories for these: Central African refugees, Nigerian refugees, and internally displaced persons.
  2. Increasing violence in Nigeria and the Central African Republic by the insurgency Boko Haram threatens the refugees finding solace in Cameroon.
  3. Boko Haram started out as a Nigerian armed group but now operates to carry out attacks and kidnappings on refugees.
  4. In January, Cameroon faced a “refugee crisis.” They needed to continue helping refugees escape the terror of Boko Haram while protecting their own citizens. The terror has resulted in nearly 1.6 million displaced people in Cameroon, which could potentially increase to 2.7 million in the coming year.
  5. The U.N. estimated that Cameroon already has approximately half a million registered refugees, not including the 200,000 registered internally.
  6. With the huge influx of refugees in the past few months, the U.N. and the Cameroonian government are worried about an impending food shortage. To support everyone, refugees in Cameroon will need $310 million over the next three years.
  7. Cameroon’s refugee camp, Minawao, currently hosts 32,621 Nigerian refugees. This is an increase of 16,000 following recent clashes between the North Eastern Nigerian military and Boko Haram.
  8. As tensions increased on the border, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) discussed setting up a second refugee camp. Once the screening is complete, the camp will house nearly 66,000 refugees, of which 41,571 were verified by the UNHCR.
  9. Faced with a food shortage and increasing danger from Boko Haram, Cameroon began forcibly moving Nigerian refugees back home, around 2,600 people in total. Most of these refugees end up in camps for security reasons.
  10. To aid new refugees in Cameroon, UNICEF and its partners plan to help 58,000 children between five and six years old severely affected by acute malnutrition and 2,800 unaccompanied children. They also plan to provide approximately 145,000 children between ages 3-17 with quality formal or informal basic education in 2017.

Cameroon became a beacon of hope to neighboring countries. A beacon which now must rely on foreign aid to continue helping refugees and prevent a nationwide food shortage, while keeping its own citizens safe from the wrath of Boko Haram.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

The Republic of Cameroon, located in Central Africa, is one of the youngest and hungriest countries in the world. At just over 50 years old, Cameroon ranked 153 out of 188 on the 2015 Human Development Index and 68 out of 104 on the 2015 Global Hunger Index. Forty percent of the country’s nearly 24 million people live below the poverty line and 2.6 million are food insecure.

Programs Focus on Agriculture to Reduce Hunger

Over the past decade, more and more organizations have worked to reduce hunger in Cameroon. The Agricultural Competitiveness Project, launched in 2010, is one of these assistance programs. The organization’s goal is to boost Cameroon’s agriculture production by developing rural infrastructure facilities and investing in value chains for maize, rice and meat.

By June 2016, the Agricultural Competitiveness Project had raised rice crop yields by 16 percent, maize yields by 98 percent and plantain yields by 220 percent in targeted areas. The production of meat for consumption had significant increases as well – annual pig live weight had a 122 percent increase, poultry live weight increased by 257 percent and average annual egg production showed a 141 percent increase.

Since 1974, Heifer International has also been working in Cameroon, along with the Ministry of Livestock and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to help as much of the poor population as possible. Heifer has primarily focused on job creation in the dairy industry but has recently expanded to include other livestock species in its projects (which are located in six of Cameroon’s 10 regions).

Despite the influx of foreign aid and a public investment program by the government of Cameroon, financial stability is in question due to growing debt and low levels of private sector lead growth. The country has not seen the levels of progression that are necessary to sustain its people. From 2001 to 2014, poverty levels fell from 40.2 to 37.5 percent. Cameroon has been able to meet only one of the Millennium Development Goals, which was focused on primary school enrollment. Despite reduction efforts, hunger in Cameroon is still an issue that warrants direct attention. The programs set forth have shown obvious positive results in most cases, but progress in Cameroon should continue to grow with additional future endeavors.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

With highly-publicized diseases like the Zika virus present in Cameroon, it is easy to overlook risks posed by more common diseases. However, with the country lacking resources and proper healthcare, preventable or treatable diseases are common in Cameroon. Listed below are the top three deadliest diseases in Cameroon.


HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in Cameroon, accounting for 13.4 percent of deaths. Cameroon has one of the highest rates of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa. Six new HIV infections occur every hour. While the number of infections in Cameroon has rapidly increased since the 1990s, recent efforts to combat the disease could help decrease the rate of infection. Subsequently, the government has launched initiatives to increase testing, encourage condom use, and bring better healthcare to regions with the highest rates of infection.

2. Lower Respiratory Infections

As one of the top diseases in Cameroon, lower respiratory infections kill about 29,000 people annually. That equates to 12.2 percent of deaths each year. These infections cause illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Lower respiratory infections are very common around the world and easily treated and prevented in most developing countries. However, a lack of adequate healthcare and awareness about prevention in Cameroon can make these infections deadly.

3. Diarrheal Diseases

Despite being easily prevented, diarrheal diseases still account for 14.4 percent of deaths in Cameroon. Diarrheal diseases disproportionately affect people living in poverty and in developing countries, where poor environmental sanitation and inadequate water supplies are more common. Although easily treatable, diarrheal diseases remain a top killer in the country. Simple interventions such as vaccines, oral rehydration tablets, and education initiatives about sanitation, could make a huge difference in preventing diarrheal diseases.

Despite the deadliest diseases in Cameroon being preventable and treatable, they remain widespread. Putting more resources toward basic healthcare and raising awareness about these diseases could help save thousands of lives each year.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Cameroon: Nurturing Opportunity and Choice
Education in Cameroon, although constitutionally guaranteed, falls short in execution. Undeniable disparities hinder educational access for poor, disabled, indigenous and refugee children, particularly disadvantaged girls. Issues ranging from sexual harassment, unplanned pregnancies and early marriages to domestic chores and socio-cultural biases proliferate a trend in which fewer girls attend primary schools than boys. Incongruences between male and female education in Cameroon exacerbate the growing movement of students leaving the country to study and live elsewhere that has been termed the “brain drain.”

Rectifying this gender discrepancy can boost individuals’ capacities for financial autonomy as well as improve the state of the nation overall.

Less than 50 percent of Cameroonian girls attend primary school, and the average adult has only 5.9 years of education under his or her belt. There are many, however, who are working to change that.

The ShineALight Africa initiative was inspired by one Cameroonian woman, Nsaigha Thecla, who risked her livelihood and security to give her daughter the education she had never attained. Borrowing, investing and selling all she had, her children received an uncommonly good education in Cameroon. Years later, Nsaigha’s granddaughter, Leila Kigha, founded ShineALight Africa in that spirit.

ShineALight Africa mobilizes individual women into a cooperative through which they can sell their farm produce as a group, and the profits are dedicated to keeping local community children in school. Participation fosters the skills to help women gain financial autonomy, which provides previously non-existent options regarding marriage and domesticity.

Self-sufficiency and personal livelihood are certainly not all there is to be gained through more available education. Many claim that national security is at stake when education is inaccessible, for “an educated population doesn’t give away to extremism.” As a military campaign against Boko Haram rages in northern Cameroon, mosques in the south resist the spread of Islamist insurgency by providing girls’ education. The director of the Grande Mosque in Briquerterie, Mohaman Saminou, claims girls are at the greatest risk of being radicalized due to their lack of education.

To that end, his mosque provides free classes to girls every weekend in subjects like computer science, sewing and the Qur’an. Other mosques, like the Yaoundé Central Mosque, follow suit, providing girls’ classes in French, English and Arabic to promote the notion of “bilingualism as a gateway to quality education and sustainable development.” This work should broaden opportunities and choices for Cameroonian girls, consequently decrease the likelihood of radicalization.

Improving education in Cameroon can hugely impact both individual lives and national wellbeing. The ability to make financial and social choices is essential to the welfare of the people and the state to which they belong.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

HeForShe Campaign
In today’s world, nearly one in five women and one in 10 men are illiterate. Illiteracy is a serious issue in itself, but this statistic also points to gender inequality. In addition to discrepancies in literacy rates, women across the globe face unequal opportunities in both education and the workforce. According to the HeForShe Campaign, this inequality is more than just a women’s issue; it is an issue of human rights. While these differences are most prominent in developing countries, women all over the globe are taking a stand.

The HeForShe Campaign, started by U.N. Women, calls on everyone to stand together for gender equality. The organization’s website encourages visitors to make a commitment to gender equality and take action against gender bias, discrimination and violence. Over 1.1 million people worldwide have made that commitment, and more than 900,000 of them are men. In addition to this, HeForShe has coordinated more than 1,100 events, 1.3 million actions and 1.3 billion conversations about gender equality.

“HeForShe is the movement for fathers who love their daughters and believe in their potential and for husbands who consider their wives as partners,” said Diana Ofwona, U.N. Women regional director for West and Central Africa. At the recent launch of HeForShe in Cameroon, Cameroonian Prime Minister Philemon Yang made a commitment to the organization. One hundred and fifty others followed suit at the event. Nearly 185,000 school-aged girls in Cameroon are out of school, compared to 8,500 school-aged boys, a discrepancy leading to disproportionate literacy and employment rates. HeForShe has the potential to make a large impact on the country.

“HeForShe is for leaders who believe in the full potential of women and help them to fulfill it, CEOs for whom women in the workforce is a great asset for the profitability of the enterprises,” said Ofwona.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

Reducing Medication Prices to Treat Hepatitis in Cameroon
The healthcare system in Cameroon has battled an array of complications that afflict the country: diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as high numbers of child and maternal deaths. The constant turmoil in North Cameroon and neighboring countries has left the healthcare system in shambles. The increase in displaced people only adds to the taxed healthcare system.

Unfortunately, in the midst of Cameroon’s trials, a disease that is relatively new to the area, has infiltrated the fragile country. Hepatitis in Cameroon has become the disease with the highest level of prevalence. The prevalence rate is 10 percent for hepatitis B (HBV) and 13 percent for hepatitis C (HCV), a much higher rate than HIV/AIDS for the country. Cameroon is the second country most afflicted by hepatitis.

HBV is a virus that attacks the liver and is live-threatening. It is contracted through contact with blood or bodily fluids from someone who is infected. Fortunately, there is a vaccine available to help protect people from HBV.

Children are more at risk for developing chronic HBV than otherwise healthy adults. There is no treatment for acute HBV, only symptom management. Chronic HBV requires the treatment of antiviral medications. However, the disease is usually not cured, only suppressed, and those with chronic HBV will be on medication to contain the disease for the rest of their lives.

HCV is also a disease caused by an infection of the liver, but it can develop into cancer. HCV may manifest acutely, resolving itself in a manner of months, or chronically, resulting in the need of medication and a higher risk of developing cancer.

HCV can spread through the sharing of needles, unsanitary medical supplies or unscreened blood transfusions. Unlike HBV there is no vaccine for HCV. Antiviral medication can treat and cure the disease. However, resources for diagnoses and treatment for those in need are often limited.

The major factors leading to the occurrence of hepatitis in Cameroon are cost, insufficient medical supplies and personnel, as well as a lack of awareness. Immunizations have been deployed to help tackle the epidemic but ignorance, mostly in rural areas, continues to prevail.

Back in 2012, when hepatitis first began to encroach upon Cameroon, the government contacted a leading pharmaceutical company to negotiate a price reduction for medication to treat hepatitis in Cameroon. They successfully reached an agreement that decreased the cost of medication by 33 percent.

In January of this year, more good news spread with the announcement of another reduction in price. Medication for hepatitis would be reduced by one-third to as much as one-half of the cost from last year.

Still, the path to everyone with hepatitis in Cameroon receiving treatment is still a struggle. As it is now, only 1.5 percent of those in need of hepatitis C medication are actually receiving drugs.

The Cameroon Minister of Public Health hopes to network the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of Yaoundé with other facilities that are researching hepatitis in order to help end the hepatitis epidemic in Cameroon.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Cameroon
Cameroon is a low-middle income country located in Central Africa. Although the country’s GDP growth has accelerated to 6.2%, poverty in Cameroon has hardly decreased since 2001. Complications with fiscal debt and fragile political conditions have put Cameroon in an immensely difficult position.

Growing regional disparities have also created challenges for Cameroon. Northern regions of Cameroon are often characterized by high poverty rates, malnutrition and food insecurity. These areas also have limited access to healthcare, education and clean water. Rural poverty in Cameroon is up to 72% and 55.8% of poor households are located in rural, northern areas.

Over the past decade, the World Bank has implemented various programs to improve conditions and poverty in Cameroon. Listed below are the results of World Bank projects that have increased GDP, provided safer health care and improved the lives of thousands of Cameroonians.

The Programs

Agricultural Competitiveness Project

The project was launched in 2010 to increase agricultural productivity. Focuses were placed on the development of rural infrastructure, investment in value chains, as well as production of broiler and pork meat.

  • Crop yields for rice, maize and plantain increased by 16, 98 and 220% (respectively).
  • Production of broiler meat doubled.
  • Average annual pig and poultry live weight increased by 122 and 257% (respectively).
  • Egg production increased by 141%.

Cameroon Health Project

The ongoing project focuses on maternal and child health, in addition to the prevention of transmissible diseases. The project covers six million people in 44 health districts.

  • The proportion of fully vaccinated children doubled.
  • The assisted birth rate increased by 20%.
  • The proportion of health facilities attaining a 75% average score on the quality index of service has increased from 9.3 to 71.6% since 2012.

Community Development Program Support Project II

The project, launched in 2009, aimed to improve the delivery of basic services in target communes and support decentralization.

  • Over 90% of participating communes benefitted from project grants.
  • In urban areas, 400,000 more people have access to all-season roads.
  • Nearly 530,000 more people benefit from appropriate drainage.
  • Over 1.5 million more people have access to improved water sources.

A Brighter Future

As Cameroon moves forward, a developmental focus will be placed on achieving GDP growth in a fiscally responsible way and to equitably translate that growth into poverty reduction. By reducing poverty, particularly in the rural regions of northern Cameroon, the country will be able to improve conditions and promote positive domestic growth.

In order to directly combat rural poverty, the World Bank is implementing the Social Safety Nets Project. The fund program will reach 65,000 households in five of the poorest regions of Cameroon. Over a two-year period, participating households will receive $1,400 every two months and partial public works employment. Additionally, participants will receive training to improve their health, nutrition, education and skills.

With the help of the World Bank, poverty in Cameroon will be cut faster and some of the poorest families in the country will have the capability to invest in a brighter future for their children.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: Doculab

Energy Access in Doula
Caterpillar, the globally-recognized U.S. construction equipment company, is leading the fight against energy poverty in the Central African country of Cameroon. Priding itself on its commitment to sustainability and social change, Caterpillar has increased energy access in Doula, Cameroon’s largest city. The company plans to expand its reach by joining hands with Altaaqa Global.

Altaaqa Global is a rental dealer of Caterpillar products, and the company’s goal is to ensure that electricity is dependably supplied to vulnerable communities. Through its new customer development program, Altaaqa Global and Caterpillar plan to increase energy access by providing local employees with the technical knowledge needed to manage Doula’s natural gas power plant.

As Fahah Y. Zahid, the chairman of Altaaqa Global, explains, “We have always aimed to play an active role in spurring growth and progress not only by providing a reliable supply of electricity but also by transferring knowledge to locals. We hope that the Customer Development Program yields a globally competitive workforce that will drive the continuous growth of Cameroon.”

Plagued by a lack of energy access, Doula faces extreme poverty, which affects 13 percent of the city’s population, as well as a 30 percent unemployment rate. Caterpillar and Altaaqa Global’s work is thus crucially important because providing Doula citizens with electricity will lead to greater economic growth.

In May 2015, the Government of Cameroon announced that it wanted to achieve “economic emergence” by 2035. Thanks to Caterpillar and Altaaqa Global, the government’s target may be within reach.

While Caterpillar increases energy access in Doula with the help of Altaaqa Global, more people will use the newfound electricity to gain an education, start their own businesses or find jobs. As a result of these new opportunities, Doula’s residents can effectively contribute to Cameroon’s success and help the country become the economic powerhouse it has the potential to be.

Kristina Evans
Photo: Pixabay

Health Care in CameroonThe World Bank is expanding a program launched in 2011 to tackle health care in Cameroon, a country in Central Africa home to a large number of refugees.

What began as a pilot project gradually extended its reach based on its efficiency.

The program improves health services by monitoring pregnant women, promoting vaccination and educating communities about hygiene practices that prevent diseases such as malaria, typhoid and intestinal parasites.

Due to positive results, the program received additional funding to expand in 2014. The World Bank Group’s Board of Executives approved a $127 million project to upscale the program in May 2016, a huge step toward improved health care in Cameroon.

The funding will go toward upgrading laboratory equipment, restocking the pharmacy, installing solar panels and building living quarters.

The World Bank joined the efforts of the Cameroonian government and other international organizations combatting maternal and infant mortality in the region.

Presently, a lack of health care services and medical professionals leaves the population vulnerable to fatal birth complications and diseases. In northern Cameroon, close to 20 percent of children die prior to their fifth birthday.

Nearly one-fifth of those deaths are caused by malaria. Additionally, 36 percent of children under five have stunted growth due to a lack of sufficient nutrition, according to the World Health Organization.

Cameroon maintains an open border for asylum-seekers. Hundreds of thousands of refugees flee to Cameroon each year from the Central African Republic and Nigeria due to violent conflict. The refugee communities in particular need health centers to respond to their needs.

The mistrust among many indigenous populations of health care services is a pressing challenge. Women prefer natural remedies and familiar surroundings to being hospitalized.

The program addresses these issues by implementing a community-based approach to healthcare: health agents visit households twice a month to monitor and identify health conditions in the village. They accompany ailing or injured people to health facilities and promptly administer care.

Additionally, health agents spread awareness about the importance of preventative health measures.

“By promoting equitable access to basic health services, this approach will make it possible to provide better care to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable,” said Paul Jacob Robyn, Health Specialist in the World Bank’s Human Development Global Practice Group.

Emily Ednoff