The Right to Food in Cameroon
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Olivier de Schutter, carried out a field mission to Cameroon from July 16-23. While there, he met with civil society organisations to discuss their issues and get first-hand information on the most pressing challenges for people at the grassroots. One of FI’s Franciscan partners in Cameroon, Fr. Boniface Diezoumbé, met with the Assistant to the Special Rapporteur to advise on priorities for Mr. De Schutter’s visit. He strongly recommended that the Rapporteur travel to the Great North region of the country where 81 per cent of rural households are food-insecure. Food crises, including those linked to climate conditions, occur every two to four years there.
On 17 July, agricultural expert consultant Mr. Barabé Benjamin met with the Rapporteur on behalf of FI in Maroua, the regional capital of the Far North region. He presented a report prepared by Fr. Boniface which outlines Franciscans’ key concerns in relation to the right to food. Focusing on the Great North Region, the report discusses the factors contributing to food insecurity. A rapidly increasing population, high dependence on agriculture for livelihoods, and frequent droughts all pose grave threats to food security in the region. The state has programmes in place to alleviate food shortages but Franciscans on the ground feel that these are poorly implemented and do not constitute an adequate response to the situation.
“Political will is not lacking in Cameroon,” said the Special Rapporteur. “But it is doubtful whether the strategy in place for access to food is really tailored to the needs of poor populations. Solutions exist. Nitrogen-fixing trees tailored to regional conditions can allow forage production for livestock; techniques such as mini-dams and stone barriers can maximize rainwater harvesting in the dry season." The Government could implement a regional strategy specifically designed to address the needs of the North. "But for this to happen, the authorities and donors must decide to act.”
FI is also working with Franciscans at the grassroots on the issue of human trafficking in Cameroon. At the 20th session of the UN Human Rights Council in June, FI delivered a statement on the abduction and trafficking of children, calling on the Government of Cameroon to take action in response to this practice. FI and Franciscans in Cameroon will continue to collaborate on these issues, particularly in preparation for the next Universal Periodic Review of Cameroon in May 2013.