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Women's Empowerment in CameroonCameroon, like many countries around the world, has dealt with women’s inequality. There are several laws in Cameroon that are severely discriminatory towards women, and even after observations and suggestions made by the CEDAW Committee to the government of Cameroon in 2000 and 2009, there have been no legal reforms to improve the protection of women’s empowerment in Cameroon. To make matters worse, customary law is applied next to statutory law, which brings about many contradictions and inconsistencies.

There are many customs and traditions that impede the implementation of statutory laws. Many marriages are forced, especially in rural areas, where some girls as young as 12 are married. There is also the practice of levirate, where widows are forced to marry the brother of their deceased husband, a very common practice since widows are considered property. Furthermore, according to tradition, only male children can inherit property.

Domestic violence is prevalent and happens often while remaining socially acceptable. Unlike many other countries, marital rape is not considered a criminal offense. The government has not established shelters or legal aid clinics, and victims usually have to suffer in a culture of silence and impunity.

When it comes to education, the literacy rate for the 15-26 age group is 72 percent for males and 59 percent for females. This is due in part to families being more in favor of boys getting an education if they are unable to send all their children. Even though there are still fewer females than males in secondary school, there is slight progress. There have been some efforts made by the government to promote girls’ access to education. However, only so many girls have been able to benefit from the scholarship policy after already being affected by the lack of infrastructure, educational materials and a shortage of qualified teachers.

There are labor laws in place to honor gender equality and provide equal access to employment and equal wages for equal work, but women are still being employed in informal sectors like agriculture and household services. Sexual harassment in the workplace is common and is not punishable by law.

There are calls for the authorities of Cameroon to reform or repeal all discriminatory measures in statutory law; specifically, the provisions of the Family Code concerning the age of marriage, consent, polygamy, marital power and property. They need to take all necessary measures to improve women’s access to public and political life when it comes to decision-making positions, which include adopting special temporary measures such as a quota system and passing legislation criminalizing sexual harassment. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to improve women’s access to health care; in particular, developing healthcare infrastructure and intensifying the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The country has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women but has not ratified the protocol of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. These changes would further encourage women’s empowerment in Cameroon.

The government of Cameroon must act and vigorously combat these issues so they can become things of the past. If the government does not make these changes and bring about equality, it will be seen as inadequate and paying lip service to the noble goal of gender equality. Women’s empowerment in Cameroon is the goal and it is up to the government to instill these laws and hold people accountable.

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Cameroon PoorThe statistics say it all: with 40 percent of its 23.7 million individuals living below the poverty line, it is apparent that Cameroon suffers from financial difficulties. Since a range of factors can cause poverty, one might wonder: why is Cameroon poor? A lot of it has to do with Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group that originated in Nigeria.

Like most radical groups, Boko Haram thrives on insecurity. The militant Islamic group has been attacking Cameroon’s Far North Region. The Far North has some of the highest poverty rates in the country, as 56 percent of its poor live there. The people of the Far North are more vulnerable to Boko Haram due to the fact that they already live in poverty. In the past three years, the group has conducted 50 suicide attacks in the nation. While most people are fighting against Boko Haram, some Cameroonians have actually joined them.

There are other ways in which Boko Haram has negatively impacted Cameroon. As a result of the violence the group has committed in Nigeria, approximately 85,000 refugees have come to Cameroon for safety. Because of that, Cameroon is struggling even more economically, since there are more people in need of aid. There have even been accusations that Cameroon has forced refugees back into Nigeria, though Cameroonian Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma denied the allegation. In addition, Prime Minister Philemon Yang reported that there has been a drop in oil prices. The country’s financial situation has become such a serious issue that Yang has asked for international support.

Boko Haram has also contributed to the nation’s food insecurity. The Islamic militant group has forced farmers to abandon their farms and has stolen livestock. There is also increased food insecurity because of the large amount of refugees. 2.6 million Cameroonians are currently food insecure. United Nations officials believe that people in the Far North Region are at risk of famine.

Fortunately, the people of Cameroon are progressing in the fight against Boko Haram. Earlier this year, the country reported that it has been freeing a significant number of hostages. Cameroon also gets some assistance from the World Food Programme, which plans to provide 560,000 people with food this year. The organization mostly focuses on the people of the Far North Region, since food insecurity is most prevalent there.

“Why is Cameroon poor?” may be a broad question, but it can be explained by understanding the situation the country is currently in. Cameroon may be in a difficult position now, but is on the path to change and development.

Raven Rentas

Causes of Poverty in Cameroon
As poverty rates across the globe continue to fall, urban centers continue to grow and people increasingly have access to education, Cameroon seems to be slipping in the wrong direction. Rural poverty, inadequate infrastructure and a struggling school system continue to hinder the lives of people across Cameroon, contributing to a rising poverty rate in the last 10 years.

Cameroon is a country of more than 23 million people. Out of the entire population, 24 percent of people live in poverty, and 55 percent of those in poverty live in rural communities.

Two causes of poverty in Cameroon and reasons for the gap between rural and urban poverty are a lack of infrastructure and an education system that fails to develop alongside shifting labor needs.

As the IMF noted in a 2014 survey, “the country’s infrastructure indicators trail those of regional peers. In spite of a slight improvement in the overall quality of infrastructure in 2013, indicators are low by sub-Saharan African standards, especially for roads, air transportation and electricity.”

This lack of infrastructure, which limits transportation, cuts off  those who live in rural areas. Rural citizens do not have access to fundamental resources and are marooned from diversified labor opportunities.

Furthermore, the education system has failed to develop alongside market demands. As the World Bank found, “the country’s tertiary education continues to focus on traditional academic disciplines and is not positioned to respond to economic transformation.”

In Cameroon, 43 percent of the population has little or no formal and primary education. What’s more, 67 percent of the population that is of working-age has received no further training in developing job sectors, leading to a significantly higher level of unemployment among youth–especially those living in rural areas.

This double-edged sword hits residents in the countryside. They have higher odds of living in poverty because of struggling infrastructure and inadequate educational opportunities. The country must address these issues to combat the causes of poverty and increasing poverty rates.

Indeed, steps are being taken. People are across the country are calling for performance-based financing for educational institutions to drive up competitiveness and quality of studies. Also, many organizations, including Heifer International, an organization that works to end global hunger and poverty, are working to increase jobs in rural areas. Regarding infrastructure, Cameroon recently launched a 10-year development plan focused on massive public investment in infrastructure, including roads.

By understanding the roles of infrastructure and education in the causes of poverty in Cameroon, the country may be able to improve living conditions for its impoverished people.

Joseph Dover

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Cameroon
The coastal African nation of Cameroon is home to about 23.4 million people. The country has enjoyed developments in several areas, including agriculture, infrastructure and industries such as timber and petroleum. However, despite this growth, common diseases in Cameroon still take a toll on the citizenry.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, HIV/AIDS is the current leading cause of death in Cameroon. Following this is malaria in second and lower respiratory infections in third. Lower respiratory infections is are most often diagnosed as pneumonia or bronchitis.

For those unfamiliar with these illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contains a wealth of information. The CDC states that HIV/AIDS is a disease that weakens the immune system by attacking important cells. Though no cure exists as of today, it is preventable by avoiding contact with an infected individual’s blood or sexual fluids.

Lower respiratory infections are diseases of the lungs that are contracted by things like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. People affected by these infections will experience weakness, fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

Malaria is an illness that is obtained via mosquito bites and claimed the lives of 429,000 people in 2015, most of whom which were African children. Victims of this illness are affected by high fevers, chills and flu-like symptoms.

What’s notable about these three diseases is that they are all communicable; in other words, they are diseases that are contracted from person to person, or from animal to person. This means that these are diseases that can be prevented by taking precautionary actions, in most cases. In fact, seven out of the top ten causes of death are communicable, and nine out of ten in cases of premature death.

So, the common diseases in Cameroon that plague most of its population are contracted. This means that preventative measures can be taken. One example of a dramatic improvement in Cameroon’s health care comes from a very simple, yet relatively unheard of item: bed nets.

In short, bed nets are used to prevent mosquitoes from spreading malaria. Thanks to groups like One Billion Nets, malaria decreased tremendously. Back in 2005, malaria was the number one cause of death in Cameroon, but since fell to number two with a 55.8 percent drop.

According to One Billion Nets, millions of lives were saved thanks to bed nets and other sources of malaria intervention. This includes a 58 percent decline in the child mortality rate in Africa.

As just one example of the significant improvements made to Cameroonian and African health alike, this serves as a testament to why groups like The Borgen Project continue to keep aid for things like bed nets from being cut. With additional aid in the future, the rates of the common diseases in Cameroon are sure to fall in the future.

Stephen Praytor

Photo: Flickr

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:

  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.

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. Here are the top three deadliest diseases in Cameroon.

1. HIV/AIDS

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 rapidly increased since the 1990s, recent efforts to combat the disease could help decrease the rate of infection. The government 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 is 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. Despite being easily treatable, diarrheal diseases remain a top killer in Cameroon. 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

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

LDS ChurchOn July 17, 2016, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church (LDS Church), presented a $3 million donation from the Church to the World Food Programme to help provide food to refugees and displaced persons in Cameroon, Chad and Syria.

One out of nine people go without food every day, and one in two are malnourished. The donation follows other partnerships between the Church and the World Food Programme, which aims to eliminate acute hunger. LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, has partnered with the World Food Programme for three consecutive years.

In 2014, LDS Charities partnered with World Food Programme to help those affected by the Ebola crisis. In 2015, they helped alleviate hunger for those suffering from the drought in Ethiopia.

The World Food Programme has the largest transport network, which allows them to take food directly to those in need, including any humanitarian organization. The organization distributed 3.2 million metric tons of food, which directly provided food rations to 75.7 million people in 81 countries. Each of the rations supports an individual for 195 days.

In September, the Church sent $5 million to help displaced families amid the crisis in Europe. The First Presidency also encouraged Latter-day Saint women of all ages to assist refugees in their own communities.

Days after presenting $3 million to the organization, President Uchtdorf visited refugee camps in Athens, Greece. Hosted by Catholic Relief Services and International Rescue Committee, the president visited the Piraeus camp, which serves 1,322 people and the Eleonas camp, which serves as a temporary home to about 2,415 people.

The LDS Church “has been providing aid to refugees for more than a decade, donating hundreds of thousands of clothes, blankets, food, emergency medical supplies and other resources to refugees” in various locations.

Jacqueline Venuti

Photo: Flickr