Local food governance in Cameroon
Food governance is the set of coordination processes undergone by actors regarding food at the territorial level, aiming at promoting their organisation and limiting the atomisation of initiatives relating to food systems (Billion & al., 2016). It is therefore an institutional framework that enables regional and local authorities to implement a competent management system capable of meeting the food needs of the citizens of the locality concerned. The appropriation of this food governance at the local level is necessary and opportune with regard to the promotion and development of decentralisation in Cameroon.
2. Local food context
According to studies conducted jointly in February 2020 by the MINADER, WFP and FAO, approximately 2.5 million individuals (being 10% of the country’s population) are food insecure in Cameroon. This situation following multiple studies is at risk of worsening with the outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic, which has according to MINEPAT, slowed down economic activities, with a 1.1% recession expected in 2020.
Data from the 2018 SMART survey show that three regions out of four have a very high prevalence of chronic malnutrition. These regions include the Far North (35.9%), the East (35.4%) and the North (30.6%). The Adamawa region is of course alarming, but it remains close to the 30% threshold with a prevalence of 28.7%. According to this survey, 566 062 children are said to be stunted in all four regions, 277 131 of whom (nearly half) are in the Far North. In the North region, 156 900 children (28%) are chronically malnourished. Thus both the Far North and North regions account for 87% of the cases of malnourished children in all four regions. The malnutrition profile of children aged 0-59 months presented in the report shows that at birth, 14% of children are already chronically malnourished and 14% are underweight. Between 6-23 months, the prevalence of stunting doubles from 26% to 59%, while the prevalence of acute malnutrition varies from 9% to 11%. Between 24 and 59 months, the number of children affected by chronic malnutrition is close to 50% around twenty-seven to thirty-one months whereas acute malnutrition is decreasing. (2018/2019 Annual Report).
3. Conditions for achieving local food governance
The conditions for achieving food governance are:
To have the power and capacity for planning, land use and financing, in coherence with other levels of governance;
Adopt an approach that takes into account previously identified uncertainties, as expressed by local actors at the level of their territory;
Develop innovative local governance processes that allow for the expression and consideration of a plurality of actors, all of whom are agents of change, in particular producers' and consumers' associations;
Take into account the environment of the territory considered, for example by integrating the interdependencies between the dynamics of urbanisation and rural development, regardless of their nature;
Strengthen the exchange of expertise between local authorities to stimulate initiatives and accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems.
4. Some initiatives to implement local food governance in Cameroon
To fight against malnutrition and food and nutritional insecurity in Cameroon, several initiatives are underway at the local, national and international levels. At the local level, several initiatives taken to fight against malnutrition and the NFI are implemented by councils in the North and East regions, namely:
The construction of boreholes and the provision of human powered pumps (HPP);
Development of drinking water sources;
Local councils signing letters of commitment committing at least 1% of the council budget to interventions aimed at fighting against malnutrition in their respective constituencies. On the basis of this initiative, thirty (30) mayors signed letters of commitment committing at least 1% of their council’s budget to interventions in order to fight malnutrition;
At the level of civil society, several initiatives to fight against malnutrition and NAI are implemented by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), namely;
Membership of local CSOs in the SUN Civil Society (SUN) platform. For the year 2019, data indicates that 34 local CSOs have already joined the SUN platform. (SUN Civil Society -Alliance Cameroon, 2019)
Training of CSOs in nutrition. According to available data, 36 CSOs have been trained in nutrition (ibid).
Integration of nutrition-related activities in the CSO action plan. Platform data indicates that in 2019, thirty-three local CSOs have integrated nutrition-related activities into their action plan (ibid).
Training of women's groups in nutrition by members of the SUN platform. On the basis of this initiative, 1000 women's groups have benefited from capacity building in nutrition by members of the platform (ibid).
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Perrin, C., & Soulard, C. T. (2014). Vers une gouvernance alimentaire locale reliant ville et agriculture. Le cas de Perpignan. Géocarrefour, 89(89/1-2), 125-134.
SUN Civil Society Alliance Cameroon (2019), Fact Sheet.