Hello everyone, my name is Anashe Barton and I am the social media coordinator for CAMAAY. I recently joined CAMAAY this year and I am responsible for curating and writing our social media and blog posts. Currently, I am in my final year at the University of California, Berkeley. I hope to go to law school following graduation and eventually work in diplomacy creating policies for a peaceful world. My passions are foreign policy, conflict management, and human rights. At my school, I work at the Restorative Justice Center where I help lead discussions in relationship building circles for victims and offenders of offenses. When I have extra time, I like to read, write, and learn about different cultures.
I believe that CAMAAY is helping make a positive impact on the people of Cameroon through our sustainable agriculture, health and wellness, educational, and clean water initiatives. I am excited for the work our organization has ahead of us, particularly in continuing to achieve the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
In 2015, global leaders agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to reach by 2030. These issues range from poverty, gender equality, hunger, health, clean water, sustainability and social justice. Initiatives to target these goals have sprung up around the globe. Sponsored by the United Nations, this “2030 Agenda” has called for the implementation of these goals to be carried out by local institutions and local actors.
Schoolchildren working on Growing Gardens project
Cameroon is one of the African countries who agreed to enact these 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and is working hard to help the sectors of sustainable agriculture, clean water systems, alleviating poverty, fostering innovation and industry, quality education, and gender equality. The Cameroon Association of Active Youths is one of the country’s local actors working to execute a number of the Sustainable Development Goals. CAMAAY works to implement gardens, clean water sanitation systems, and sustainable practices in the lives of the Cameroon people. Our Agricultural Impact Assessment and Growing Gardens initiatives target sustainable agricultural practices. Meanwhile our Water for Oku and Typhoid in Batibo projects aim to create sustainable water systems. Our projects have also received governmental support and hands on help from other local organizations, such as the Netherlands’ Engineers without Borders. You can learn more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals here. Coming up are a few ways CAMAAY’s projects have directly contributed to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Anne Katherine (Kathy) Griswold has recently joined CAMAAY to help edit documents, and is now involved with the creation of critical documents related to CAMAAY’s commitment to improving the lives of those which it serves. She holds a B.S. in Political Science, an MS in Special Education, and a PhD in Teacher Education and Higher Education, with a Doctoral Minor in Human Development and Family Sciences. She is the founder and current president of Anything’s Possible Educational Services. Dr. Griswold is passionate about social justice and strives to help improve the lives of others in her professional and personal lives.
Dr. Griswold’s education, mentoring and development experience, and strong written communication skills are key assets for CAMAAY’s work. She looks forward to working more with CAMAAY in the years to come on key issues such as accessible clean water for all, nutrition, and sustainable agricultural methods.
In my role as CAMAAY’s Global Community Manager I am responsible for recruiting volunteers from the international community and supporting them in their work which needs to align with CAMAAY’s strategic direction. I have worked with CAMAAY’s director to update CAMAAY’s strategic direction using the balanced scorecard approach and to develop an organisational structure which supports the implementation of the strategy. Within this role I have assisted CAMAAY in developing a strong and transparent project management process by developing and supporting the implementation of project management strategies and project evaluation frameworks. These approaches are currently being rolled out across our school garden project which addresses nutrition deficiencies in children and teaches sustainable agricultural practices. In this role I am responsible for effective and timely updates to our project donors.
One of the key challenges for an NGO is obtaining funding for our projects. Our philosophy of transparency in our work, reliable and effective communication and well planned and effective projects is a constant theme within our work and is something we will continue to work hard to achieve. This commitment assisted in our successful application for a Rhodes Scholars Southern Africa Forum (RSSAF) grant, where we were one of three organisations to receive the grant out of over 250 applicants.
A key challenge for Cameroon is the sustainable development of agriculture industries. I am currently project manager and technical lead in the development of an environmental impact assessment which assesses the impact of current agricultural practices upon the environment. This project is supported by the Ministry and will provide advice to them regarding approaches for maximising productivity in a manner that is environmentally sustainable.
Our next key project challenge will be supporting the government of Cameroon in developing a water security strategy within North-West Cameroon. Our approach will be guided by technical and project management principles which we hope will result in a project which can be replicated in other parts of Cameroon. This project will prioritise areas for investment and highlight where further research needs to be undertaken. A critical measure of our success will be our ability to engage with local communities to incorporate their local knowledge in this project and in turn to provide opportunities for local Cameroonians to learn key skills in water management.
CAMAAY is an exciting organisation to work for as the team are so passionate about all the work that we do. I particularly enjoy working with an amazing team who are spread across the globe and who each bring their own experience and passion to our projects.
Joanne’s extensive experience in the field of environmental sustainability makes her a welcome part of CAMAAY’S team. In 2018, she was awarded a Certificate of Distinction by the SDG Academy for Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace. Her work as our Global Community Manager is integral to the Cameroon Association of Active Youths.
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.
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.
Our latest Global Giving report for our Growing Gardens project is in!
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.
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.
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!
Posted in Hidden Hunger, school partnerships, Uncategorized
Tagged Africa, children, Development, education, Environment, Food, Garden, Gardening, Gardens, Growing, harvest, Healthy, Help, NGO, Nutrition, Progress Report, sustainability, sustainable agriculture, Volunteering
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.
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.
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.
Posted in Uncategorized, Volunteers, Water Project
Tagged clean water, Development, Engineer, Engineers without Borders, Environment, NGO, sustainability, Volunteer, Water, water purification
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.
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.
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