Ganava, a farmer from the Republic of Cameroon, still remembers the day insurgents from Boko Haram burst into his village, seizing his land and threatening to kill him and his family.
“We were forced to flee and hide in the mountains because we feared for our lives,” he recalls.
Ganava comes from Koza close to the Nigerian border in the country’s volatile Far North Region. He, his wife and their 11 children sought refuge 100 kilometres away in the town of Maroua where he has learned new skills in a field he never expected – aquaculture.
He is not the only one. Heavily impacted by the violent insurrection, more than 400 people from the town of Zileng have also learned aquaculture as a way to rebuild their livelihoods and lives.
In fact, since March 2019, over 3 000 people across the country, including refugees and displaced persons in the Far North Region, took part in various FAO projects, that were supported with donor funding from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Irish Aid.
While Cameroon has a fishing industry along its coast in the southwest, aquaculture has been less important in inland areas where crops and animal husbandry have been the more common source of support for livelihoods.
FAO has been working with the country’s Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries to give farmers and pastoralists training in this promising sector. Fishing equipment and other technical assistance were also provided through the projects.
Aside from the violence in the Far North, the Republic of Cameroon struggles with a high rate of poverty. This combination of violent conflict, poverty-induced hunger and climate shocks have forced millions of people from their homes and destroyed the livelihoods of millions more.
In early 2021, nearly 2.7 million people in Cameroon were estimated to be food insecure and there are more than 300 000 internally displaced people in the Far North Region. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the daily challenges that many people face.