Goats Help Cameroon’s Displaced Get Back on Feet

A new program in northern Cameroon is giving families displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency a pair of goats to help them get back on their feet.

40-year-old Boukar Abba pulls his two goats outside the fence behind his house in Mozogo, a town on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria.

He said he expects to raise the goats and make money to take care of his children’s health, school needs and food. He said he expects to be able to sell baby goats in the future and make some profit, but he said he still has to travel a long distance to fetch water for them.

He got the goats this month as part of an initiative by the French Red Cross and the government of Cameroon.

Families impacted by the conflict against Boko Haram are given a pair of goats. The family keeps the goats until they produce offspring. Then the parent goats will be passed on to another family in need.

Muje Dieudonne works for the French Red Cross official which is piloting the project.

He said they are targeting 510 households. People participating will also benefit from counseling to help deal with violence inflicted on them during the conflict. He said they are also teaching them good hygiene norms and techniques to take care of the goats and their food to stop illness.

Goats have been distributed to about 200 people so far.

Economic impact of Boko Haram insurgency

Boko Haram has been carrying out attacks in northern Cameroon for more than three years. The conflict has hit the local economy hard.

Cameroon’s National Institute of Statistics reports the unemployment rate at the border with Nigeria is over 90 percent. The government says poverty makes youth vulnerable to recruitment into Boko Haram.

Many youth abandoned raising livestock in their villages amid the violence.

Dieudonne of the Red Cross said insecurity is still a concern.

He said it makes it very difficult for aid workers to reach places where there are displaced persons. He said the people who benefit from this initiative also continue to move around for safety to new localities and in such cases, it is not easy to retrieve the goats and hand them off to other families.

Money maker

Earlier this year, the U.N. along with international NGO’s and the governments of Cameroon and Japan built a livestock market at the village of Zamai where youth can sell the goats they raise.

Cameroon also provided $4 million of emergency funds to create jobs for youths on its northern border with Nigeria.

Source: Voice of America