Lean season:Food insecurity in Cameroon

What is the lean season in Cameroon?             

Known as one of the most difficult periods for populations living on agriculture, the lean season is characterized by insufficient food resources. It marks the period before the first harvests, when produce from previous harvests is insufficient to cover household food needs. As a result, foodstuffs become scarce and prices rise on the market, increasing the population’s vulnerability to food insecurity. In Cameroon’s Far North region, where agriculture accounts for around 55% of the population’s activities, over 2.5 million people are acutely food and nutritionally insecure.  

Visit to a dry-season sorghum plot, Maltam, Logone et Chari, Far North, Cameroon, February 2024  | © Alfred ETOUBOU / Première Urgence Internationale  

Actions taken to combat malnutrition  

Première Urgence Internationale teams are carrying out mass screening and treatment of malnourished children, providing financial and technical support to selected health centers, and supporting local farming and livestock-raising activities. 

To this end, during the lean season, 199 households, or 93% of targeted households, benefited from an individual basic agricultural tool kit, 162 households benefited from support for agricultural and livestock activities, and 4 agricultural cooperatives were supported by the project in the Mayo Sava and Logone et Chari departments of the Far North. With regard to malnutrition, 8,734 cash transfers were made during the lean season to enable vulnerable populations to meet their food needs.  

Caring for a malnourished child and his mother NJENOM GOTTO, Kousseri, Logone-et-Chari, Far North, Cameroon, February 2024 | © Alfa ABDOULBAGUI / Première Urgence Internationale  

NJENOM NGOTTO, a single mother from the Far North, talks about the health problems that have affected her child due to malnutrition and the difficulties encountered in accessing healthcare for her sick child.  

“I’m a single mother with no job. I have three children. Since my child fell ill, I’ve been unable to go about my business. He started having diarrhoea and vomiting all the time, with a bloated stomach, and I had absolutely nothing to buy medicine for him. At my level, I learned how to treat water to make it drinkable” 

Feeling powerless in the face of her child’s state of health, and despite her lack of financial means, the young mother decided to go to the hospital after hearing about Première Urgence Internationale‘s assistance from her neighbor.  

“When I arrived at the hospital, I had no money for food or medical care. The Première Urgence Internationale teams gave me some money, which enabled me not only to feed myself so that I could breastfeed my child properly, but also to pay for minor care. I’ve had many awareness-raising sessions on child nutrition and hygiene practices in our households. I also receive visits to see how the child’s health is progressing, a gesture I really appreciate. 

Screening children under 5 for malnutrition, Tolkomari, Mayo-Kani, Far North, Cameroon, Feb. 2024 | ©  Alfred ETOUBOU / Première Urgence Internationale  

NJENOM and thousands of other people are facing nutritional health problems in the Far North without being able to remedy them. Much remains to be done. Through the activities implemented by Première Urgence Internationale with the participation of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, 4,982 children have been screened for malnutrition, 638 children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and 225 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition have been registered 

Première Urgence Internationale, with the participation of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, is implementing the “project to combat malnutrition in vulnerable households with children under 05 and/or pregnant and breastfeeding women in the Far North region”. 

Find out more about our humanitarian mission in Cameroon.

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