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Clouds Without Rain

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Aaron Kaah Yancho


Farmers in this regions of Cameroon as well as along the Lake Chad River basin utterly dependent on rains to grow crops. But the sustained decline in rainfall since 1980 had long thrown the farmers in to confusion. For many months Mme. Binta and her community has to absorb the shocks if not deal with the realities of the changed pattern in rain fall. Every sunrise the farmers wait hopelessly looking at the starry skies. “And all what we just see is heavy cumulus dark clouds in the horizon but no rains, cold winds and breeze”. Binta remarks. Strange enough, this dull unpredictable weather also has its bearing’s on the community. A lot of kids and women have caught common cold and cough. Shortly before sunset a cluster of these sick kids are at a local health care unit. Only God alone knows when a bucket of water trapped at a camel’s back arrives the unit before these kids are administered a highly priced dose of paracetamol.

Waiting and wondering in her farm field Mme. Binta only anticipates why the rains have become irregular every day. This woman’s woes present the classic challenge of farmers in the Far North region of Cameroon and around the Lake Chad river basin plaque by climate change. Many years back these very farmers could proudly look at the weather and tell when it will rain. Now the whole community has been thrown in to a crisis of rain if not water. A community leader by name Yayah Mallam is urging the local farmers to hold on in this uncertainties “may be, just may be the unexpected will happen –the rains will fall” Mallam opines. According to experts walking the region and who are they to help educate the likes of Mallam these are the climate changes that scientist have been predicting that have and will hampered food crop production world wide and leave Sub Sahara Africa and the Lake Chad river area one of the poorest regions in the world today. In a report to confirm the change in the climate at the ministry of Agriculture and Rural development in yaounde Cameroon researchers in 2010 explained that when the first rains come and the farmers plant in this region and the Lake Chad river basin which constitute part of the North of Cameroon …… the rains disappear again for good making these poor farmers even poorer as seeds for the next farming season are lost. “The results have being over bearing” A staff of the world food program in the region cries. Low food crops yields lead to abject poverty, hunger and misery.

Binta’s husband Jaillaya Mohammed is a grazer and polygamist with 2 other wives. In this case their problems are exaggerated. “Our big family now has to face the temptations brought in by the climate changes, how to feed and to acquire money for our immediate needs in a big worry”. Binta said. The grazing of livestock cattle on the small pasture on which this family depends for cultivation means the worse is yet to come. Not far from Binta’s grass roof thatched house lives a wiry woman Amina Anre’ in her late thirties as she struggles with a six months pregnancy. Amina’s potential hopes are on two fowls perking on the sand next to her hut. The hut she calls home relatively will not survive the end of the next drought as the already decompose grass and bamboo’s fall off each time a strong wind blows. Community members like Binta don’t blame themselves or fellow mates like Amina for living on next to nothing. While Binta blames the weather for their predicaments, Amina and her 2kids have a plethora of difficulties. Her husband died a long time ago from an infectious disease. “My capabilities to cope in the tormenting climate weighed down to almost nothing” Amina explained. This girl later sort help from a women mobilization group and built her present “abode” doing almost all the manual labor alone. Amina’s two teenage girls who have not gone to school and will never as she put it because of poverty. After her husband death she was left with a long stretch of red dry land and a few sheep to depend on for food, income and the education of her kids. The poor yields and the longer dry seasons left her almost miserable in the face of the challenges. “The options for me like a widow to improve my livelihoods have been very slim” Amina said in tears.

Women like Amina and Binta are every where in the world especially in communities where the change in climate has hit. They form the majority of the world’s poor that turn to be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In an Oxfam report published in 2008 and titled Oxfam Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Resource -these poor women are affected in their multiplies roles as food producers and providers , as guardians of health, care givers and economic actors. In the report women like Amina work extremely harder to secure their basic resources ………and this means that they will have less time to earn an income, get an education or training.

To guard against the worse times Mme. Binta and other 21 women like Amina who faced similar problems have come together in their community under a self help group to share their workload, joy and sorrows. Many development organizations in their localities are raising awareness on climate change and how to cope in the extreme weather conditions -what is it and how to adapt. These women have lobbied for aid and are trained on integrated livestock management, gardening and compost manure application, income generation activities as an alternative to source income and food crops. Though trying hard to fend together their challenges are still unshakable. The high levels of inequalities among men and women in these communities and the soaring levels of illiteracy among these women and girls as well as low participation in decision making cycles is hampering this effort. Very few women have dared to venture in to business and whether by design or tradition they have accepted their roles as house keepers. Their only asset is landed property. while men like Mallam Yaya- Binta’a husband may leave home annually to trade in cotton, the task can be scary, harsh and excruciating for women like this who are always home when the troubles of climate change like droughts, floods, and fire outbreaks strike.

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posted @ 9:40 AM,

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