Introducing Our Team: Patrick Chung Ndifon

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Patrick Chung Ndifon is a community development facilitator by profession and director of CAMAAY. He is very thrilled about topics relating to community development with great interest in access clean water, sustainable agriculture and nutrition, women and youth empowerment, renewable energies and children. He has worked on intercultural exchange programs and have hosted about 50 volunteers in Cameroon. My goal is to impact as many communities as possible through different projects with the participation and support of different stakeholders both nationally and internationally.

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This is our Country: Cameroon

The Republic of Cameroon is nestled on the eastern coast of Africa and is home to over 23 million people. Cameroon gained its independence in 1960, and is now governed by a unitary dominant-party presidential republic. Since 1982, the People’s Democratic Movement party’s leader Paul Biya has been the country’s president. The country is replete with fertile land and natural resources including oil, coffee, and cocoa. The country’s population is also one of the most diverse on the continent; its people practice Islam, Christianity, and the Traditional religion. Also, Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.

CAMAAY works primarily in the North-West region of Cameroon, where there are distinct challenges. The region’s economy is primarily based on agriculture, though water and food security have threatened this. With high unemployment rates, children of farmers often choose to help their parents with subsistence farming instead of going to school creating larger educational gaps between the wealthy and the poor. Many people in the Northwest do not have year-round access to clean drinking water. Water systems are in need of maintenance and people often resort to drinking contaminated water from polluted streams. CAMAAY works tirelessly in partnership with local communities to help rehabilitate these water systems. Additionally, CAMAAY are working to address  the problem of malnutrition and unsustainable farming practice in Northwest Cameroon, where many families are deficient in sufficient nutrient and farmers overuse or misuse pesticides.

 

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Planning 4 New School Gardens: Global Giving Report

Our latest Global Giving report for our Growing Gardens project is in!

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Children sowing seeds.

Cameroon has a high prevalence of micronutrient deficiency, causing a type of malnutrition known as “Hidden Hunger” because its effects are not visible and are often not easy to detect. Cameroon farmers often do not understand the risks associated with the overuse or misuse of pesticides in degrading both human health and the environment. With this in mind, the need for education is vital. The Growing Gardens Project is expected to assist Cameroon school children by providing nutritional food for schools. Children learn to bank seeds and a Harvest Fair can generate income for tools and garden supplies sustaining the gardens in the future. By learning farming skills, it is hoped that more children will choose to work on the family farm after graduation rather than move to a life in impoverished cities.SAM_1414

This project also supports the objectives of CAMAAY’s “Supplying Clean Drinking Water” project as it encourages protection of the local water supply from the impacts of pollution associated with agriculture. Teaching these skills to school age children will assist in protecting the water supply into the future as these children, as adults, will have the knowledge to implement more sustainable farming practices.SAM_1437

From January until April, CAMAAY implemented a school gardening project in Government School Mbockenghas, Government School Tankiy, Government School Simonkoh, Government School Mbockenghas and Government School Ngiukei all of the Oku Sub-division Bui Division of the North West Region of Cameroon.

The main objective was to set up a sustainable school garden and train pupils and teachers as well as the community on how to use a sprayer, prepare a nursery and the garden areas to become suitable for the garden crops and also teach pupils the advantages of gardening in schools and in the community. CAMAAY and agricultural workers held a workshop with the teaching staff at each school to set the tone of the project.  This included outlining the key objectives and responsibilities of all involved stakeholders. The agricultural worker has now visited each school and worked with the children to help them plan their gardens and to teach them the skills required to setup and maintain their garden. Children have gained hands on experience in planning and setting up a garden. in the afore-mentioned schools and despite some minor challenges the project is tracking well.

To donate to this cause, you can do so on our Global Giving page!

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Engineers Without Borders Visit

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In January of 2018, a team from Engineers without Borders from the Netherlands visited three water systems in northwest Cameroon. Engineers without Borders is an NGO comprised of professional engineers who use their technical knowledge to improve the lives of those living in developing countries. The primary objective of their visit to Cameroon was to assess existing water infrastructure, meet the communities and provide recommendations for water supply projects.  They provided the communities with reports which outlined some basic measures that could be put in place to immediately improve the water supply situation in the villages they visited.

From April 15 to 20, Cameroon was happy to host these engineers again, who returned to assess the tasks undertaken by the villages since their last visit and to provide further technical guidance on improving the water supply scheme into the future.

 

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Two EWB engineers, CAMAAY’s project Director Patrick Chung Ndifon, two support staff, and some members of the village visited the MBAM and Bonguive community water supply systems to assess the current problems and to look for ways to improve them. Local disputes in the villages and a shortage of supplies interrupted some of the progress in the project.  While there are challenges, the communities are working towards better practices with the increased knowledge and technical assistance from the organization and with the support of CAMAAY.

 

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In the Ngiukei water supply scheme, the water management committee has already started gathering materials for the expansion of their water supply scheme. Stones were transported to the proposed site for the construction of a small dam. The team presented the simple design for the dam–stones, a hoist, and gravel–to the village construction team. The villagers moved to the stream and went immediately to work. They broke the stones into smaller particles and constructed the temporal dam with the supervision of the engineers. A stick was used to temporarily replace a hoist during construction. Once the dam is completed, the stick will be replaced by a hoist and the connected pipes will transport water to the village. A sedimentation tank will help filter the water along the pipeline before the water gets to the storage tank and distributed to the stand taps.
At the end of their visit, the engineers gave CAMAAY and the villages a number of recommendations including suggestions for rainwater harvesting and the shift from concrete water tanks to plastic tanks in reduce water contamination. CAMAAY is hopeful that Engineers without Borders will continue to send delegates to teach locals strategies for improving water quality and supply. With their help, CAMAAY and locals can spread these practices around villages throughout Cameroon and achieve a sustainable future. You can read the Engineers without Borders’ report on Oku here.

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CAMAAY are Successful Applicants of Rhodes Scholars Southern African Forum Grant

Fighting Hidden Hunger

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.

1. Water
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.

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Five School Gardens in North-West Cameroon

As a result of your support, CAMAAY has successfully assisted 5 schools in setting up gardens in their schools in the Bali, Batibo and Oku regions. These have become an important asset to children as they have taught children to grow nutritious food which improves their health and knowledge of sustainable farming practices. Knowledge is being spread throughout the community as children are teaching their parents and parents are becoming more supportive of the gardens. From time to time the gardens provide excess vegetables and seedlings for use at home thereby improving the nutrition of the extended family. Family and other members of the community are becoming more interested in improving their own farming skills as a result of what they see as success in the school gardens.

As a result of the success of the existing project there has been significant interest from schools in other areas. CAMAAY hope to continue to expand the project into other schools in North-West Cameroon.

Prior to expanding the project to new schools CAMAAY want to stop, reflect and learn from the existing projects. We want to see even further success in any future projects and we wish to review key aspects of the existing projects to incorporate learnings into new projects.

This is a work in progress for CAMAAY. We are currently developing an evaluation framework which sets the approach for undertaking a strategic assessment of the success of our projects against our project objectives. First, we will review the objectives for our project, set key performance indicators and develop interview and assessment questions. Then we will undertake the site assessments to interview people and review associated documents.

An evaluation report will summarise the key learnings which will be incorporated into any project extension that occurs in the future.

Growing Hope for Cameroon School Children: Our Global Giving Donation Page

The children enjoying their harvest

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Connecting with Italian Classrooms

While Pietro was in the Bamenda area working on our school gardens, he established a pen pal relationship between his Cameroon classes and four classrooms at the Istituto Comprensivo Statale G. Parini, a primary school in Gorla Minore.  The children at Istituto G. Parini also has a garden, and they shared their gardening experiences, as well details about their lives.  They exchanged good wishes for Christmas and the National Day of Cameroon (February 11).

The kids at Bamendankwe show off the letters they received from Italy

The kids at Bamendankwe show off the letters they received from Italy

Pietro made this delightful video to share with the children in Italy:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bel1KnM6kz8

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Just an hour or two of your time can improve our gardens!

Do you have a green thumb? Are you passionate about eating healthy? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

We are working with five primary schools in North-West Cameroon to develop self-sufficient, climate-resilient, earth-friendly gardens that will inspire the next generation of farmers.  This year, the children had the most success with lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes.  Next year, we want to add one or more of the following: chickpeas or another “pulse” (pea or bean) that can be dried and/or made into flour, sweet potato, cassava, corn (maize, as it is known in Africa), watermelon, pawpaw, papaya, avocado, kale or some other nutritious green, and beets.  We would like to give the children at each school a set of 12 cards, each one with information on growing and eating one fruit or vegetable, which they can use to select from 4 to 8 crops that they would like to grow in that year’s garden.

Choose one or more of the fruits or vegetables listed above and fill out the attached information sheet for it.  Be sure to leave a comment about which one(s) you are working on, to avoid duplication.

You can find most of the information you need here:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has a good summary of the growing requirements (you can view it by clicking here) and uses for a variety of crops; click the forward arrow for information on nutrition (scroll down for charts).

Mother Earth News also has a good in-depth companion planting guide, which identifies which crops go well together, in terms of deterring insects or other benefits (you can view it by clicking here).

The plants will be growing in a semi-arid tropical climate 5° to 7° north of the equator.  Since the sun is almost directly overhead, its rays can be quite intense, but temperatures rarely climb over 90° F.  Heavy rains fall for about three months in fall and three months in spring.

It will likely take you 1 – 4 hours to complete the information for one crop;  doing just one is fine, but tackling two or three would be fabulous!  If you are interested in learning more about our projects, please view our Global Giving page where you can read more about the projects and updates.

Please email our International Affairs Coordinator, Jill Hinckley at connect@camaayworldwide.org with questions, or to forward a completed garden information sheet.

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Bamendankwe

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Engineering Volunteer for Water Project

We’re looking for a motivated Engineer to volunteer with our Water Project in the Batibo district of Cameroon.

Background Information:

The Cameroon Association of Active Youths (CAMAAY) is a grass-roots community empowerment NGO that is working cooperatively with local villages and international volunteers to solve a crisis in the availability of clean water in the 14 districts of the North West Region.  Although most have water supply systems that were built fairly recently, many were poorly designed and have been improperly protected and maintained.  The villagers often end up drinking from nearby streams polluted with pesticides and animal feces, causing disease and even death.

Objectives:

  • Implement emergency measures to protect and extend the water supply in the Batibo district (pop. 70,000).
  • Design system improvements and maintenance measures to supply ample clean water on an ongoing basis.

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Design plans to show where fences should be installed and trees planted in each of the 35 catchment areas that need them, and motivate local volunteers to accomplish this work by explaining why and how these are important.
  • Establish and implement procedures for collecting flow data and locate or generate soil and topography maps for all villages identified in our baseline study as needing water system rehabilitation.
  • Identify up to 10 projects that meet the criteria for the U.S. Ambassador’s self-help grants and work with village elders to prepare applications.
  • Work with our Community Organizer to run village workshops about the importance of clean water.
  • Install and monitor chlorine dispensers at locations where water is taken from polluters streams.
  • Work with Helvetas and Water Management Committees (WMCs) to recruit, train and supervise caretakers

Location:

Batibo Subdivision,

Bamenda, Northwest Region

Cameroon, Africa

Requirements/Qualifications and Skills:

  • Post-graduate study in Engineering and Water Supply or any Similar Qualification
  • Fluency in written and spoken English (French is an asset)
  • Ability to work on your own in sometimes difficult circumstances, with limited guidance or supervision
  • Ability to work cooperatively as a team member with indivduals from other cultures

Cost:  You should plan on paying €10 – 15/day ($12 – $18 US) for room, board and incidentals.  Assignments are from one to six months, at your choosing.

How to Apply:

To apply for this role, please email our International Affairs Coordinator, Jill Hinckley at connect@camaayworldwide.org. Attach Motivation letter/letter of interest, Curriculum Vitae/resume and any other relevant documentation that addresses the requirements above.

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Volunteer Support for Water Project

We need volunteers for our Water Project! Can you help?

Background Information:

The Cameroon Association of Active Youths (CAMAAY) is a grass-roots community empowerment NGO that is working cooperatively with local villages and international volunteers to solve a crisis in the availability of clean water in the 14 districts of the North West Region.  Although most have water supply systems that were built fairly recently, many were poorly designed and have been improperly protected and maintained.  The villagers often end up drinking from nearby streams polluted with pesticides and animal feces, causing disease and even death.

Objectives:

Implement emergency measures to protect and extend the water supply in the Batibo district (pop. 70,000).

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Work with schools and committed individuals within the community to setup and maintain a water flow measurement system in each of 20 villages.
  • Help construct fences and install locks on access points as necessary to protect water catchment areas.
  • Help plant trees to protect water catchment areas from runoff and erosion.
  • Work with our Community Organizer to run village workshops about the importance of clean water and to brainstorm ways to conserve water.

Location:

Batibo Subdivision,

Bamenda, Northwest Region

Cameroon, Africa

Requirements/Qualifications and Skills:

  • A commitment to helping others
  • Basic knowledge of water management practices desired but not required
  • Fluency in written and spoken English (French is an asset)
  • Ability to collect, measure and file data efficiently and accurately
  • Ability to work on your own in sometimes difficult circumstances, with limited guidance or supervision
  • Ability to work cooperatively as a team member with indivduals from other cultures

Cost and Duration:  You should plan on paying €10 – €15/day ($12 – $18) for room, board and incidentals. Assignments can be from one to six months long, at your choosing.

How to Apply:

To apply for this role, please email our International Affairs Coordinator, Jill Hinckley at connect@camaayworldwide.org. Attach Motivation letter/letter of interest, Curriculum Vitae/resume and any other relevant documentation that addresses the requirements above.

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