CAMAAY have become the successful applicants of a grant from the Rhodes Scholars Southern African Forum which is administered by Rhodes Scholars who are currently studying at Oxford University. This grant will allow CAMAAY to extend the Growing Gardens project to additional schools in North-West Cameroon.
The grant included an allocation to undertake an evaluation of the existing school gardens which have largely been funded through our supporters on Global Giving. With the help of our international volunteer, Joanne Yee, an evaluation framework and stakeholder questionnaire was designed. It contained some performance questions that aim to assess the achievement against key objectives of the project. Key learnings from this evaluation of the existing projects will be incorporated into the new projects to make them even stronger and more sustainable into the future.
The schools where the evaluation were undertaken include: Government School Gunda-Bessi – Batibo, Government School Ambo – Batibo, Government School Keonom – Batibo, Government School Wumukang – Batibo and Presbyterian Primary School – Bamendakwe.
The evaluation has indicated that there are three key challenges associated with the existing projects.
The supply of water is intermittent, particularly in the dry season, as streams often dry out and schools don’t have onsite access to water. They often need to collect it by walking long distances to a stream or by collecting rainwater during the rainy season.
2. Economic sustainability
All of the school gardens still require external financial or inkind support to help the gardens progress. The gardens continue due to the management of the teachers and the children, however they cannot grow large crops or extend the gardens further without further financial or in-kind support.
3. Stakeholder engagement
While this evaluation and previous report have indicated that the community are becoming interested in the gardens at the schools, the support and interest is still at low levels than hoped. Newsletters have not been developed, as outlined within the original project plan, and technical or discussion sessions have only occasionally been held with the local community. Without the engagement of the community the schools will need to continue to develop and maintain the gardens without the support of the community.
Water security is a challenge throughout North-West Cameroon and the intermittent supply of water and distance to clean water sources provides a challenge for the productivity of our school gardens. The evaluation highlighted this as a key challenge and recommended that rainwater harvesting be investigated as an option to alleviate this challenge. This would involve setting up a system for collecting rainwater off the roof of the school and diverting it into storage in a tank. We need to investigate to ensure that the roof material does not provide a source of contamination for the plants and humans in the case that this is elected to be used as a drinking water source.
Successful aid projects require that with time inputs from external sources can be withdrawn and the project would continue successfully. CAMAAY will continue to work with the existing schools to develop approaches for creating sustainable gardens. A reliable source of water is a key to achieving this. This will assist the school to create enough crops so that seeds can be harvested and excess crops can be sold. The funds from these activities can be used to support future growth of the garden.
A bimonthly newsletter will be produced to share learnings and activities with the local community. This would also advertise relevant news such as training sessions being presented by volunteers and agricultural workers. These newsletters can also be shared with local relevant councils and other authorities. This will assist with growing the support of the local communities and the knowledge of what the gardens are trying to achieve.
CAMAAY are currently working through the recommendations within the evaluation and will monitor their progress as suitable actions are implemented.