Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Azideriva All-In-One Micro Finance Solutions



By James Achanyi-Fontem,
Communication Consultant
The Executive Director of Azideriva Ltd UK, Dr. Ajua Tasong launched a new state of the art Micro Finance Solution Suite, labelled as Azideriva FL7X, in Douala, Cameroon on the 22nd December 2009. Two major events including training on IT use of the software and a news conference were associated to the launching.
Azideriva Ltd is a leading provider of micro finance, capital markets solutions and services based on appropriate technology principles. The software solutions are integrated with open source software, which results in substantial cost savings to customers.
Dr. Ajua Tasong told the audience at Akwa Palace Hotel that Azideriva software solutions are designed and specifically tailored to cut unnecessary consultancy and other overhead costs. The off the shelf Micro Finance Solution Suite is also highly adaptable, easy to install, and can get a new client fully integrated and running with very minimal need for training.
The off-the-shelf product, Azideriva Micro Finance Solution Suite helps micro finance organisations to effectively manage customer accounts, loans, transactions, reporting, as well as day to day running of their business with a lot of easy. Azideriva Micro Finance Solution Suite enables the client to improve efficiency, minimize risk, reduce operational cost, and also improve confidence and customer experience, the software engineer explained.
During the practical session, Dr. Tasong showed how the Azideriva Micro Finance Solution Suite has in-built expert systems features, which enables easy accounting, checking of loans and transactions management with the creation of industry standard reports covering various formats.
The off-the-shelf product, Azideriva OTC Trade Confirmation Suite enables the creation, and also processing of industry standard FpML messages for direct computer-to-computer real time electronic trading, matching, and confirmation of derivative products. This supports seamless integration to electronic trading platforms such as DTCC Deriv/SERV trade information warehouse.
The Azideriva OTC Trade Confirmation Suite automatically validate all messages against FpML and DTCC Deriv/SERV schema rules prior to dispatching thus minimising errors and processing cost. The software can get a customer fully integrated with DTCC Deriv/SERV trade information warehouse through direct computer-to-computer real time messaging using the Azideriva OTC Trade Confirmation Suite from as little as one day of integration period.
During the press conference, journalists wanted to know the difference between Dr. Tasong’s invention and the software currently used by banks in Cameroon and Africa as a whole. He explained that though Azideriva software solutions operate like existing tools used in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States of America, it is less costly compared to what the banks are using.
To get the banking software, a person will need several tens of millions CFA, but the Azideriva software solutions is very cheap.
Journalists observed that the new invention apparently can be used not only by the banking institution and that it could be deplored in universities for managing records of students and in the health sector, it could be used in collecting and analysizing research data.
Before the training proper, the micro finance corporation managers has echoed their expectations, which included
• a better understanding of the solutions proposed by Azideriva for better management of Cameroon micro finance institutions.
• Increased reduction of risks during management and consolidation of accounts reporting.
• Easing of management of customers’ files and accounts.
• Increase the number of customers using micro finance throughout the country
• Reaching out to international funding organisations by working in partnership with Azideriva Ltd.
• User friendliness, reliability and sustainability of the Azideriva software within the COBAC finance region
• Usage of the Azideriva solutions for managing local micro finance groups and NGO staff.
• Reduction in cost of exploitation and charges.
• Increase in the management skills of micro finance staff in Cameroon
• Reduction of risks and errors in banking and accounting of customer files.
Following an evaluation conducted at the end of the training and interactive workshop, all the above expectations were considered as met by the training. The participants at the workshop, who came from Yaounde, Douala, Buea, Melong, Mutengene, Limbe, Tiko and Menji in Lebialem solved to pass on the knowledge they acquired, while raising money to reach for their copy of the micro finance solutions software from Azideriva Ltd.
The workshop was covered by journalists from The Sun Newspaper, Lebialem Community Radio, Dynamic FM Radio, Correspondent of Farm Radio Interntional Canada, Radio Veritas Catholic FM, Canal 2 Tv, Equinox Tv, Cameroon Tribune, Le Jeune Enqueteur, Cauris City FM Radio, Vision Economique and Cameroon Link.
As the journalists left the news conference, they were told that the property rights of Azideriva FL7X are registered in England in conformity with the business law of the United Kingdom. Any piracy of the software will be attack to the British business system.
Profile of Dr. Ajua Tasong, CEO of Azideriva
Dr. Ajua Tasong is Cameroonian born British. He has over 13 years of UK industry experience in “The City” (London Financial Centre), ICT, process design, and engineering. He is the Managing Director of Azideriva Ltd (www.azideriva.com). Dr. Tasong has accumulated a strong knowledge in capital markets, IT, process design, and engineering. Dr. Tasong is an expert in providing IT solutions for improving efficiency, minimising risk, and reducing operational costs within banking organisations. Previously, he worked as a Consultant within the global capital markets business areas where he was responsible for implementing strategic electronic trading, matching and confirmation solutions at major international banking organisations based in the United Kingdom, Europe, and USA. Dr. Tasong has also held various research and academic position at the University of Reading and also at the British Geological Survey. Dr. Tasong holds a BSc Hons degree from University of Leeds, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from The University of Sheffield in Britain.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

FRI Up dates Partnership With Cameroon Radios




Canadian Managing Editor of Farm Radio International (FRI), Douglas Bruce (Vijay Cuddeford) started a marathon round of community radio stations in Cameroon on the 20th November 2009. The Canadian visitor is undertaking a 3-week long working visit aimed at strengthening partnership with local community radio stations involved in the promotion of farming and livestock rearing through broadcasting.
It all started at Nostalgie FM Radio at the heart of Douala City in Cameroon with Carole Leuwe, who took notes on the possibility of working closely with FRI. Vijay Cuddford had the opportunity to watch a live broadcast operated with an interview of his Cameroon Link host, James Achanyi-Fontem on the recent trainer of trainers workshop sponsored by IBFAN Africa on the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) in Cameroon.WBTi is an evaluation tool conceived by IBFAN Asia.
During the exchange with Carole Leuwe, the FRI managing editor exposed the different categories of partnership and handed over an endorsement form to be filled and returned to Canada for inclusion on the mailing list of beneficiaries of broadcast materials conceived and channelled to African community radio stations.
Apart from visiting radio stations, Vijay Cuddford discussed collaborative training for radio organisations and broadcasters on a variety of issues with knowledge organisations in Cameroon. At Cameroon Link, he said, it was time for the Human Assistance Programme to become an entry port for a strategic partnership following a long standing relationship between both organisations.
The strategic partnership memorandum between Farm Radio International and Cameron Link was discussed during a working session with staff in Grand Hangar-Bonaberi and the director of publications, James Achanyi-Fontem. It was agreed that on the return to Canada, Vijay Cuddford would present the content of the memorandum for further discussion with FRI administration and specific activities to be carried out within the strategic partnership frame work will be approved before take off in the new direction of collaboration.
At the Centre for the Environment and Rural Transformation, CERUT, in Limbe, Vijay Cuddford was presented an NGO which houses a media group that operates Eden Community Radio and Eden Newspaper. The target audience of Eden Radio are rural and urban poor, women, children, youths and retrenched retired workers.
Interventions of the organisation are through sensitisation, animation, workshops, study visits, exchange visits, fellowship visits, radio campaigns, production of videos and so on. Eden Radio delivers its programmes in two official languages and 10 local languages. The station covers fours regions of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
The chief Executive Officer of the Eden Media Group, Zachee Nzoh-Ngandembou, expressed gratitude for the expansion of collaboration with the radio arm of his group, which was affiliated to Farm Radio International three years ago. Vijay Cuddford, who was accompanied during the Limbe trip was taken on air after a briefing and exchange with the radio staff.
The crucial problem facing community radio stations in Cameroon is the lack of transport facilities for collection of materials for programmes and the lack of modern studio equipment. The staff launched an appeal to developed country radio stations in Europe and America to assist where possible with second hand unused packed studio equipment to expand and reach wider audiences. Before December 13, when Vijay Cuddford would leave Cameroon back for Canada, he would have made contacts with over 30 community radio stations in Cameroon. He observed that Cameroon is strategic in the Central Africa region and that is what motivated Farm Radio International to settle extensively and assist the farmers through broadcasting.
According to Vijay Cuddford, Cameroon has enormous human and material resources, which just need to be well exploited for a great lift of the survival possibilities of its inhabitants. He is visiting community radio stations in the Littoral, South west, West, North West, Centre and South regions of Cameroon to collect information on their training needs and possibilities of exchanging broadcast programme packs and scripts.
Farm Radio International started as Developing Countries Farm Radio Network in 1979. It is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of collaboration with Community Radio stations throughout Africa this year. FRI is continuing its role of helping millions of African farmers through the airwaves from Ottawa, Canada.
Farm Radio International is supported by the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA. FRI is based in Ottawa with a staff of 10. Farm Radio International produces scripts about farming and rural development for more than 300 stations in Africa. The scripts are relevant, simple and easy to adapt to local languages and settings. Text messages from listeners indicate overwhelming support. A script on food/grains storage using pepper instead of chemical pesticides is reported to have been particularly helpful.
Thanks to continuing support from the Canadian government and donors, Farm Radio International has been able to expand its programs through a weekly e-newsletter, and it is now conducting a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded African Farm Radio Research Initiative in five countries to discover the best ways to use radio to support smallholder farmers. For more information, send an email to the following address:
James Achanyi-Fontem
Director of Publication
Cameroon Link
Tel: 00237 77 75 88 40
Email: camlink99@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WBTi Trainers Workshop In Cameroon



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
By Pauline Kisanga
IBFAN Africa Consultant
IBFAN Africa conducted a two day workshop from 12-13 November 2009, to orient the government of Cameroon on how to conduct periodic monitoring and evaluation of infant and young child feeding practices, policies and programmes using a simple to use World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative tool (the WBTi). The workshop was held at the Royal Palace Hotel Bonaberi-Douala for 14 participants who came from the government and different nutrition advocacy NGO’s and being gender sensitive, included men, women and youth groups. The workshop was facilitated by an international consultant to IBFAN Africa, Mrs. Pauline Kisanga and nationally organized and coordinated by the Coordinator of Cameroon Link who is also IBFAN coordinator of IBFAN groups in Cameroon.
The objectives of the workshop were to:
1.Sensitise participants on the Global strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding and how it is linked to the WBTi tool;
2.Impart knowledge and skills on the application of the WBTi tool for monitoring and evaluation as well as for advocacy and action to improve IYCF;
3.Discuss unique national situations as regards the tool;
4.Identify sources of representative local data and methods of its gathering;
5.Develop an Action Plan for the first national assessment.

The workshop achieved its objectives and beyond as it was able to conduct a preliminary rough score of the country (81/150 or 54% of achievement) on implementation of the Global strategy; it came up with a concrete plan to complete the country assessment from 13th November to 18 of December; and it already begun utilizing the draft assessment results to advocate for further action using the national TV and internet Cameroon Link blog. The National Coordinator of Camlink and IBFAN consultant appeared on national TV immediately after the workshop and made a call for further action on this subject.

Among the achievements observed on implementation of Global Strategy nationally are:
1.Excellent initiation of breastfeeding with one hour of birth (95.6).
2.Cameroon has a national Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, even though it is not enforced and it has no sanctions.
3.Many health facilities in Cameroon practice kangaroo care to provide care to low birth weight or pre-term infants.
4.Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is increasing even though slowly.
5.Community based support by mother support groups is fairly good except there is lack of optimal and correct information for mothers and community workers.
6.The World breastfeeding Week is celebrated nationally annually.

Among identified major gaps are:
1.Too early introduction of other foods and water (26.2%) and too late introduction of complementary foods for 20% of infants.
2.Lack of a National Coordinator for infant and young child feeding in the Ministry of Health and a national coordinating committee supported by the Ministry of Health and fully responsible for IYCF.
3.The National Code of Marketing is not translated into English so that all can understand and lacks sanctions.
4.Information, education and communication efforts are only reaching 58% of the population.
5.High bottle feeding practices for infant 0-6 months (26%)
6.No efforts are made to implement BFHI in health facilities.
7.No awareness of infant feeding in emergencies.
8.On Maternity protection, not all provisions of the ILO 183 Convention are addressed and there was no protection of agricultural workers and those in the informal sector.
9.There is need to know more about what is happening to mothers who are HIV positive in terms of infant feeding.

Observed Opportunities
•Cameroon has over 48 community radio stations that are not fully utilized by the government for infant and young child feeding education.
•Cameroon boasts of having a good national Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, FECABPA; it hosts the International Men’s Initiative of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, WABA; and is strongly affiliated to IBFAN and the Baby Milk action that are two advocacy houses for infant and young child feeding.
•Good relationships between Cameroon Link and the Government-for instance the government was fully supportive of the WBTi workshop and even supported with gathering of preliminary data.
•A very strong Cameroon Link-coordinating the federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, FECABPA and affiliated to many other national groups working on related work.
Among the key recommendations made to the national government and local partners are:
1.Appoint a national Coordinator for infant and young child feeding who is in a senior position and a national committee answerable to the Ministry of Health and the Federation.
2.The government should have a budget for implementing infant and young child feeding programme.
3.The government should translate the national Code into English so that all can benefit and it should revise the Code so that it includes sanctions.
4.The government, UNICEF and WHO to initiate urgent efforts to train health workers on BFHI and implement the BFHI in health facilities and communities.
5.The government needs to integrate guidelines on infant feeding in emergencies within the nutrition policy.
6.The Government with the support of UNICEF and the WHO to improve monitoring and evaluation of IYCF indicators within existing systems.

Major request made to IBFAN
1.IBFAN to consider including French in all its future national training and IYCF documentation in order to achieve full participation of the French section of the country. It was explained that this was possible through IBFAN Africa sub-office in Burkina Faso.

DETAILED PROCESS
WBTi is a web based tool that is adapted from the WABA’s GLOPAR 1993 tool and the WHO’s tool “Infant and Young Child Feeding: A tool for assessing national practices, policies, and programs” (2003/4). It is an action oriented tool that encourages involvement of all stakeholders from assessment, analysis to action planning and implementation.
The periodic use of the WBTi tool for monitoring of progress of the infant and young child activities is expected to identify best lessons of achievement and existing gaps and thereby generate action to improve on policies and programmes for maternal and child health. This in turn is expected to lead to improved infant feeding practices and maternal health and therefore speed up the achievement of MDG 4 and 5.

The WBTi objectives are to:
Provide critical information to governments, needed to bridge gaps in infant and young child feeding policy and practice
Provide evidence to IBFAN groups to advocate for greater effort and investment to promote early and exclusive breastfeeding in the respective countries and regions
Contribute to attaining MDG-4 and 5 and reducing under-five child mortality and improve women’s health
Document best practices and share them with other countries in regional forums.

Preparation of WBTi Training
Cameroon Link made excellent preparations for the workshop including development of information packs for all participants and collecting preliminary data on most of the 15 indicators, which enabled mock data processing-filling of forms, analysis and rating and scoring; as well as generating excellent discussions based on real life situations during the workshop.

Cameroon Link is the national Focal Point for the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) in Cameroon. It is through Cameroon Link that the Ministry of Health of Cameroon now collaborates with IBFAN Africa closely. Cameroon Link has been instrumental in the formation of the national Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, FECABPA, and the Men’s Initiative of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, WABA.
It is IBFAN’s expectation that after this workshop the national team will be able to finalise their national assessment, conduct partial analysis and submit their national report to IBFAN AFRICA who together with IBFAN Asia will finalise the report cards for country advocacy work and further action. At the same time from the assessment reports the national group will design their advocacy strategy for improving country action for IYCF.

THE WORKSHOP PROCESS

SESSION ONE

1. The head of the reproductive health unit and health partnerships focal point, Mr. Samuel Mibe (MOH), opened the workshop with acknowledgement to IBFAN for their support and the Cameroon government for their efforts towards improvement of Infant and Young Child Feeding, IYCF. He thanked Mrs. Joyce Chanetsa, current regional coordinator of IBFAN Africa for including Cameroon on the list of countries that have benefited from the training in the Africa region and welcomed the consultant. He also presented excusive breastfeeding trends from 1991 to 2006, indicating significant improvement from below 10% in 1991 at 3 months to 37% at 0-6 months.

2. Mr. James Achanyi-Fontem, the National Coordinator of IBFAN Group and Cameroon Link welcomed the consultant and participants, also acknowledging the support of IBFAN and WABA and the good collaboration they have with the Cameroon Ministry of Health and other partners. He also presented some of the preliminary data on infant and young child feeding adding to that from the Ministry of Health especially in the area of policies and programmes, calling for more vigilance from his colleagues so that they can sustain the ongoing efforts and exceed the level they have reached. He also reiterated that the WBTi was a good opportunity as a new initiative in boosting the Cameroon Link’s 20th Anniversary celebrations that were going to be held on the 23rd of November 2009. He called on vigilance and adviced that the WBTi results could be utilized in preparation of the national assessment workshop.

3. The consultant then briefed the trainers on the global strategy on IYCF as the basis for the protection, promotion and support of all IYCF activities. She highlighted the goal of the Global Strategy as:
•improve the feeding of infants and young children by
oprotecting, promoting and supporting optimal feeding practices
oempowering mothers/families/care-givers to make, and carry out, fully informed decisions about feeding, free from adverse commercial influences and misinformation; and
oensuring supportive conditions for exclusive and continued breastfeeding as well as timely, adequate, safe and appropriate complementary feeding for every child
•Increase the commitment of governments, civil society and international organisations to protecting, promoting and supporting optimal infant and young child feeding.
•provision of accurate, objective and consistent information about optimal child feeding practices
•skilled support to initiate/sustain the optimal feeding practices, preventing/overcoming difficulties
•protection from misinformation and inappropriate commercial influences
•creating enabling environment for mothers/families to adequately feed and care for their infants and young children
She emphasized the Innocenti Targets and the additional targets of the Global Strategy as basis for the WBTi implementation:
•Innocent Declaration targets
All governments should:
1.appoint a national breastfeeding coordinator
2.ensure that every facility providing maternity services fully practices the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
3.take action to give effect to the principles and aim of all Articles of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent relevant resolutions of the World Health Assembly
4.enact imaginative legislation protecting the breastfeeding rights of working women and establish means for its enforcement
•Additional operational targets
5.develop a comprehensive policy on infant and young child feeding
6.ensure that all key players protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life
7.promote timely, adequate, safe and appropriately done complementary feeding
8.develop guidelines on appropriate feeding of infants and young children in exceptionally difficult circumstances, including HIV/AIDS
9.adopt national legislation and other suitable measures for implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent relevant
WHA Resolutions.

•GSIYCF
o describes interventions for promotion, protection & support of IYCF
o concentrates on the role of critical partners (govt, Int org, civil society)
o builds on existing approaches
o comprehensive (all inclusiveness)
o calls for investment into IYCF

•The challenge
o How do I use the strategy to ensure that appropriate IYCF is a reality in my country to achieve the United Nations Millennium Summit – MDG 4 and 5 (2000)
o Each country has been urged to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate a plan of action on IYCF. Many have plans but how well are they implementing and reporting on the achievement of the operational goals.
o This emphasis was made again in the Innocenti Declaration on IYCF (2005) that countries should put resources into IYCF as over 60% of under fives mortality is attributable to inadequate infant and young child feeding.
She stated that:
•The achievement of the OPERATIONAL GOALS needs to be monitored
•Action needs to be stimulated at all levels for implementation of the Global Strategy from the national assessments.
•IBFAN Asia has innovatively summarised the WHO monitoring tool into a more manageable tool-the WBTi
•The WBTi addresses all the 9 goals; is participatory, action oriented and is simple to use;
•It is the best in Tracking, Assessing and Monitoring (TAM) the implementation of Global Strategy for IYCF

5.Introduction to WBTI and the participants’ reading of the green book.
A brief presentation of the WBTi was made followed by the participants reading the green book and answering questions that followed; which were mostly well understood.
This was followed by discussion of the Africa experience. The consultant briefed them on the regional workshop by IBFAN Africa and Asia for the 14 countries, the rationale for selection of countries and the work that followed at each country level. The consultant explained that to date 7 out of the 14 countries have their reports posted on the WBTi website, while other reports are still being reviewed by the IBFAN Regional office and IBFAN Asia.

5. How to conduct national assessments
This was a brief power point presentation on the steps that each country should follow in conducting assessments. This was followed by a brief discussion.

SESSION 2, 3, 4, 5
In these sessions the participants worked in 3 groups on understanding the questionnaires and identifying the sources of data for each of the indicators.
This was followed by group presentations: Major sources of date for Cameroon were the DHS, Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF. Others were HIV/AIDS commission, Ministry of Labour and ILO; and health facilities referenced reports.
This was followed by another group work to read each indicator in detail: reading the question and the sub-set, suggesting possible sources of data and method of collecting the data. This was then followed by group presentations of findings and challenges. The participants understood the questionnaire and the only challenges indicated were in the language and lack of data in some of the areas.
Groups were organized as follows:
Group 1: Indicators-1, 2, 6, 7, and 8
Group 2: Indicators- 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11
Group 3: Indicators- 5, 12, 13, 14, and 15

SESSION 6, 7, 8
This Sessions consisted of viewing the Africa report from Malawi on how the form was filled; filling the blank template using available national data, analyzing the data and rating and scoring; and discussing how to identify gaps, identify achievements, write recommendations for action on bridging the gaps.
This was then followed by presentation by groups and discussion.
At the end of this session all the indicators were scored and the a draft country score, determined (almost a true score because of the available information)
There was then a brief discussion on how the collected information and the score could be utilized for advocacy and since they had several journalists in the group there were many useful suggestions including: media houses, newsletters, meetings with policy makers, training of health workers and community resource people and IEC materials.

SESSION 9-Web action
This was partially successful. Participants were shown how to register and how to obtain information from the WBTi website. Africa reports and scores were easily accessed but when it came to registration in order to get the tables, graphs, maps and pie charts, the registration failed. The participants were requested to each register so that they could access the reports later in their own time.

SESSION 10 PLAN OF ACTION AND BUDGET
Participants came up with their plan of action immediately after the web-action. This action plan is contained in the Coordinator’s report attached. Contained in the coordinator’s report are also national scores, achievements and recommendations for each of the indicators. These will however, be verified by the actual national assessments to be completed by 18th December.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WBTi Training In Cameroon


By Rose Ajonglefac
The President of the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Association, FECABPA, has lauded efforts of the Cameroon government towards improvement of Infant and Young Child Feeding, IYCF. He was speaking in douala on the occasion of the launching of the orientation training on the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative, WBTi. He siad, he was honoured to have the opportunity to welcome infant nutrition advocates and the IBFAN Africa consultant, Pauline Kisanga, who arrived Cameroon to capacitate the advocates last November 10. He thanked Mrs. Joyce Chanetsa, current regional coordinator of IBFAN Africa for including Cameroon on the list of countries that have benefited from the training in the Africa region.
The Ministry of Public Health guided the trainer of trainers workshop organisers during the preparation and secondary data was collected from WHO/UNICEF Cameroon websites on child nutiriton trends.
The WBTi orientation workshop was hosted at Royal Palace Hotel Bonaberi-Douala for two days.The 14 participants observed that workshop was alearning and exchange opportunity on the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative. This training is expected to assist in the expansion of our breastfeeding advocacy for protection and promotion, monitoring and evaluation of mothers' in Cameroon .
Pauline Kisanga was described as the Africa Queen of Infant and Young Child Feeding. WABA had during past ceremonies considered her as Africa’s ambassador of breastfeeding advocacy.
She has published several works including, “The Process for Successful Implementation of ILO Maternity Protection Convention 183 of 2000 at National Level: Africa Regional Experience of Step by Step Action” and “The Protection, Support, and Promotion of Breastfeeding in HIV: Policy Guidelines by IBFAN Africa”.
She is special to Cameroon Link, because in her capacity as the Regional Coordinator of IBFAN Africa and with the support of Baby Milk Action, the organisation was co-opted and affiliated into the Anglophone and Lusophone IBFAN Group in 2000. With her coaching and constant support, Cameroon Link grew from strength to strength and was recipient of the IBFAN Africa distinction in 2007 in Maputo, Mozambique for excellent advocacy strategies during the 7th Regional Conference and its commitment and engaging support for the promotion and protection of breastfeeding in the continent and Cameroon in particular. IBFAN' award was the second distinction after the George Atkins Communication award by the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network in 1996. In 2008, Cameroon Link also received WABA's Gold Medal for the World Breastfeeding Week Marathon events in Cameroon.
Cameroon Link today pilots the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, FECABPA, the Men’s Initiative of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, WABA, and is the Focal Point for the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)Group in Cameroon. At Cameroon Link, the motto is "Babies can’t wait and it is baby's right to be breastfed on demand and exclusively for the first six months.”
Cameroon Link remains more committed than before, especially as on the 23rd November 2009, the 20th Anniversary, it is involved in a new initiative, “The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative.” The data and information presented during the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative orientation trainers' workshop was built on reports and information collected from the Demographic Health Survey, DHS in Cameroon, statistics from the ministry of planning, programming and territorial development in Yaoundé, WHO and UNICEF sources.
It should be noted that comprehensive survey results are published in the DHS final reports approximately 8 – 12 months after the completion of fieldwork while standard reports are approximately 200 pages in length and include topics on household and respondent characteristics, fertility and family planning, maternal and child health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS.
The department for health promotion in the ministry of public health contributed as the policy and decision making channel. The IBFAN Cameroon Link Group collaborates with the Ministry of Public Health and reports regularly on all its activities. Here are key indicators which will be revised and published in April 2010 when the current survey on the rights of the child to food will be validated.
IBFAN Cameroon Link Group observed that much progress has been made to increase the rate of breastfeeding in Cameroon. He presented indicators which have to be validated and published in April 2010.
2009 INDICATORS (1-5)
1. Percentage of babies breastfed within one hour of birth in the last 24
Hours - 95.6%
2. Percentage of babies of 0<6 months of age who are exclusively breastfed - 37%
3. Median duration of Babies breastfed for up to 24 months - 17.5%
4. Percentage of breastfed babies less than 6 months old receiving other foods or drinks from bottles - 26.2%
5. Percentage of breastfed babies receiving complementary foods from 6-9 months of
Age - 79.2%
Indicator 6: National Policy, Programme and Coordination
There is a national policy on infant and young child feeding.
Gaps:
1. Inadequate funding for IYCF activities in Cameroon.
2. Non existence of a National Breastfeeding Committee and Coordinator at the level of Public Health Ministry.

Recommendations
1. We advocate for increased funding of programmes to improve infant feeding practices.
2. We advocate for the establishment of a National Breastfeeding Committee and that the government should appoint a national coordinator of Infant and Young child Feeding.

Indicator 7: Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (Ten steps to successful breastfeeding in the maternity services)
Some work was done on the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, but not enough evaluation was done for certification in the Adamaoua Region, which was area of concentration.
Gaps:
1. The frequent redeployment and high attrition rate of trained health workers.
2. Infrequent monitoring at national and regional levels.
Recommendations:
1. Train Auxiliary Nurses on the ten steps to successful breastfeeding because these nurses do not change health facilities very frequently.
2. Increase monitoring and supervision.

Indicator 8: Implementation of the International Code

All aspects of the code have been adopted and domesticated in Cameroon and are being implemented, though monitoring needs to be enforced more regularly. IYCF promotion advocates from many works of life have been trained to monitor implementation and violations of the Cameroon National Code put into circulation on the 1st December 2005. There will be greater outreach if the national code is translated into the English language. Repressive measures need to be included in the code for the enforcement of its articles in case of violation.

Indicator 9: Maternity Protection
Gap
1. Maternity leave does not meet the minimum ILO recommendations and does not cover all working women especially those in the informal/unorganized or agricultural sectors.

Recommendations:
1. Advocate for ensuring maternity protection to reach at least the minimum recommended by ILO (ILO MPC 183) while at the same time increasing its scope to include all women of child bearing age who may be in one form of employment or the other.

Indicator 10: Health and Nutrition Care Systems
Gaps
1. Inadequate coverage of IYCF issues in Pre-service health training schools.
Recommendations
1. Support health training institutions to include IYCF issues in their curricula.
2. Train the teachers on IYCF issues.

Indicator 11: Mother Support and Community Outreach – Community based Support for the pregnant and breastfeeding mother
.
There is an extensive community based support system that provides up to date information to pregnant women and mothers, though there is inadequate staff in health facilities.
Recommendation
More community outreach staff should be trained for all regions and health districts to be covered.
Activities need to be reinforced within the communities with seedgrants and Ministry of Public health subventions.

Indicator 12: Information Support
The existence of a national IEC strategy for improving IYCF practices in Cameroon helps to raise the status from where it was in the latter part of the 1990’s to where it is now. It has become a tradition to celebrate the National IYCF Nutrition Week (January) and World Breastfeeding Week (August) in Cameroon nation wide.

Indicator 13: Infant Feeding and HIV

The government is commitment to the prevention of paediatric HIV in all regions and health districts.
Gap:
1. Inability to ascertain the actual proportion of babies of HIV positive mothers that are protected from infection due to appropriate feeding options.
2. The high attrition rate and frequent redeployment of health workers hampers the implementation of activities. Many health workers retire without replacements in the health facilities. The number of nutrition counseling specialists in health facilities throughout Cameroon remains low.

Recommendations
Conduct operational research to determine the proportion of babies of HIV positive mothers who become infected through breastfeeding.
Train more staff and reactivate dormant peer education activities for HIV prevention to promote behavior change communication.

Indicator 14: Infant Feeding during Emergencies
Very little is done in the area of emergencies. Emergencies are not well documented and this infringes on preparedness.
Gaps:
Infant feeding in emergencies is not addressed enough in existing policies. Interventions are sporadic and not on permanent basis, especially as rural communities outreach remains limited.
Recommendation
Ensure that the Nutrition Policy is reviewed to capture infant feeding in emergencies and the strategic plans be developed to adequately address IEC on IYCF.

Indicator 15: Mechanisms of Monitoring and Evaluation System

Monitoring, evaluation and follow up is done with the organization of frequent meetings involving NGOs.
Gaps:
1. Paucity of data especially median duration of breastfeeding and bottle feeding rates. Data varies from rural, to semi urban and urban areas.
2. Information on IYCF not routinely collected through the health systems on breastfeeding trends in all districts and regions.
Recommendations
1. Surveys to consider collecting more comprehensive information on Infant and Young Child Feeding practices including bottle feeding and duration of breastfeeding.
2. Incorporate IYCF in the routine health maternity counseling services of both public and private facilities.
For more information, contact the WBTi training organisers at camlink99@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Farm Radio International


Managing Editor Visits Cameroon
Canadian Managing Editor of Farm Radio International, Douglas Bruce (Vijay Cuddeford) undertakes a 3-week long working visit in Cameroon from November 19. The visit aims at strengthening partnership with local community radio stations involved in the promotion of farming and livestock rearing through broadcasting.
Apart from visiting radio stations, Douglas Bruce will discuss collaborative training for radio organisations and broadcasters on a variety of issues with knowledge organisations in Cameroon. He will be visiting community radio stations in the Littoral, South west, West, North West, Centre and South regions of Cameroon took collect information on their training needs and possibilities of exchanging broadcast programme packs and scripts.
Farm Radio International started as Developing Countries Farm Radio Network in 1979. It is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of collaboration with Community Radio stations throughout Africa this year. FRI is continuing its role of helping millions of African farmers through the airwaves from Ottawa, Canada.
Farm radio International is supported by the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA. When Canadian journalist, George Atkins, first visited Africa in the 1970s, he found that Africa’s farmers weren’t short of good ideas appropriate to their circumstances, but distance, language and limited literacy often prevented them from sharing these ideas with each other.
The ideas being shared at the time were those from the developed economies — the result of farm extension efforts aimed at Africa which tended to focus on using inappropriate or unaffordable machinery, chemicals or fertilizer.
Atkins, a farm broadcaster at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC, Toronto, had been part of the success in delivering practical extension information to farmers in post-war Canada. When he returned from his visit to Africa, he resolved to launch a second career doing the same for farmers in Africa in a way that would solve the idea-sharing problem. The Developing Countries Farm Radio Network was born in a small office in Toronto.
On May 1, 1979 the first script package was sent. In 2009, approximately 900 radio scripts have been circulated under the organisation’s new name “Farm Radio International”. Atkins’s brainchild celebrates its 30th anniversary of successfully reaching farmers through the radio, which remains the cheapest and most reliable medium in the developing.
Now based in Ottawa with a staff of 10, Farm Radio International produces scripts about farming and rural development for more than 300 stations in Africa. The scripts are relevant, simple and easy to adapt to local languages and settings. Text messages from listeners indicate overwhelming support. A script on food/grains storage using pepper instead of chemical pesticides is reported to have been particularly helpful.
Thanks to continuing support from Canadian donors, Farm Radio has been able to expand its programs through a weekly e-newsletter, and it is now conducting a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded African Farm Radio Research Initiative in five countries to discover the best ways to use radio to support smallholder farmers.
George Atkins is 91years old. He stepped down from the Farm Radio board only two years ago. He observed that “at this time, millions of the poorest of the poor farmers of the world are hearing this information to help them increase their food supplies and have better nutrition and health. If that isn’t what’s helping people in developing countries, I don’t know what it is. I have to pinch myself when I think of the people who are helped by this service that is available to them by just turning on their radio.”
Atkins said he hopes Canadians will continue their generous donations to support the low-cost but effective approach he started 30 years ago, noting that the world food shortages of the past year have reinforced the importance of supporting smallholder farmers around the world.
James Achanyi-Fontem
Director of Publications
Cameroon Link
Tel: 00237 77 75 88 40
Email:camlink99@gmail.com

Saturday, October 31, 2009

CAMLINK Farmers Club

Partner of producers and consumers of the agricultural sector
By James Achanyi-Fontem

WHO IS CAMLINK?

CAMLINK is a not-for-profit and non governmental organization for empowering the farmers and consumers to bring about a mutually benefiting relationship and to protect their interests and rights. The head office of CAMLINK is in Grand Hangar – Bonaberi, Douala City neighbourhood, Littoral Region of Cameroon.

OBJECTIVE
CAMLINK strives to achieve Millennium Development Goals No. 1, 3, 7 and 8 by researching on the problems faced by farmers and consumers in Cameroon, and seeking durable solutions to overcome the regularly occurring difficulties.

METHOLODY
It uses Joint Community Effort, Information and Communication Technologies (World Wide Web and SMS) to mitigate and eradicate difficulties faced by farmers.

WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS?

“The Farmers' Plight” is a problem. This is wangled with exploitation from middlemen, illiteracy, hostile climatic conditions, inaccessible farm to market roads, high cost of transportation, pest attacks, lack of transformation machinery, poor farming techniques, ill health, inadequate finance, lack of preservation facilities, insecure and unstable market trends, large price fluctuations and having to deal directly with fewer consumers amongst others.
Women constitute a majority of the farmers in rural areas, where the problems of gender inequalities are very visible in the distribution of gains. CAMLINK Farmer Club believes that the missing piece in the puzzle can be found in information made available to farmers and consumers through the use of Joint Community Effort and the ICT (World Wide Web and SMS).

MISSION
The mission is to connect, coordinate, and inform stakeholders in the agriculture sector (farmers, consumers, civil society, government authorities, etc.) with the use of ICT (World Wide Web and SMS) to seek solutions to food shortages, poverty and gender inequalities.

OUR VISION
CAMLINK Challenges the ideas that underadvantaged people should continually depend on aid packages. It buys the idea of the Chinese proverb, "Give a man fish, and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". It also buys Farm Radio International policy of sharing ideas and finding solutions. CAMLINK seeks to replicate this idea within farming communities. The organization strives to achieve by giving rural peasant farmers simple tools that inform and empower stakeholders in agriculture.
It recognizes that the government has done a lot already and is still willing to do more to help combat “The Farmers' Plight”, and this project aims at giving the government a phase lift by making:
Cameroon a major exporter of farm produce,
Farm produce are regarded with such high esteem as their counterparts in the fashion industry,
Create supermarkets for farm produce,
Eliminate waste in the agricultural sector, etc.
Promote Gender Equality through information, education and communication

PROJECT OUTCOME
The project outcomes are enormous and exhaustive:
Promote and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) n° 1, 3, 7 and 8
Expand Cameroon's Agricultural Markets
Reduce Scamming in Cameroon and Secure the Markets
Foster price stability in the Markets
Reduce Waste in the agricultural sector
Enforce food safety
Enhance Food Preservation
Educate Farmers
Inform stakeholders
Provide financial Assistance
Producers and Consumers time savings
Foster Just-In-Time Harvesting
Reduce Transportation costs
Foster Exchange of ideas amongst farmers
Enforce Coordination in the Agricultural sector
Encourage local consumption
Provide new employment opportunities
Encourage agricultural Livelihood
Promote efficient use of existing infrastructure
Reduce Rural-Urban migration
Develop a global partnership for development

AGRICULTURAL MARKET INFORMATION SERVICES PROJECT

CAMLINK is a not-for-profit and non governmental organisation working with farmers and consumers for the protection of their rights. The organisation’s objective falls in line with Millennium Development Goals No. 1, 3, 7, 8. CAMLINK researches on the problems faced by farmers and consumers in the rural communities of Cameroon and seek durable solutions together for overcoming regular occurring difficulties. In some parts, seasonal roads make it impossible for agricultural field workers to make frequent trips to monitor farmers' activities, while in other parts it is the hostile climatic and environmental conditions that hinder good yields. The use of ICT is relevant for circulation of frequent alerts on the positive and adverse situations throughout the country at all moments, to up date farmers before, during and after the planting season.
This project is hinged on the premise that the lack of access to immediate information is the reason why farmers and consumers alike fall short of satisfying their quests. African farmers on the one hand strive to increase the continent’s food production and make economic gains for themselves through farming in the expectation that consumers would just “stumble” upon their products “with pockets full of money”. Unfortunately this has not been the case, as farmers work hard and end up either destroying their ecosystem through uninformed farming practices thereby unwittingly destroying their dreams to prosperity on the one hand, and on the other hand depriving consumers “with pockets full of money” the opportunity to avail themselves of these products, stay clear of famine and contribute towards fulfilling the farmers’ quest to economic posterity.

Project Overview

This project is about delivering educative and informative SMS messages to farmers and consumers that would enable them connect directly and do business. It is intended to seek funds and expertise that will enable the team fulfill the wishes of the rural populations within some enclave isolated English speaking communities in Cameroon.
The rural communities in question are dominantly peasant farmers and consumers within localities close to South West and North West region. Information and education on the use of pesticides has been found to be lacking and this is vital for the health of their crops and up grading the soil. These farmers also need information about available markets and consumers demanding their products.
This approach aims at improving their economic situation, reducing the poverty level and promoting responsible farming practices in areas not readily accessible by agricultural field workers.
The strategies and approach applied in CAMLINK has been used in the banking and transport sectors in Cameroon with great success,  and there is no doubt that it will be productive to replicate it. Associating the strategy with existing infrastructures of mobile communication, the simple tools of Information and Communication Technologies would positively affect farmers and consumers as well.
The advent of the internet, websites and satellite technologies though very effective as tools of modern communications  fall out of the range of these actors for two reasons: either farmers and consumers do not know how to exploit them, or that they cannot afford the cost of getting connected and finding the information they need. The proliferation of websites that document information about farm products and consumers therefore does little or nothing to remedy this situation. Therefore, this proposal reposes entirely on SMS messaging to all actors involved because it is more instantaneous than other applications in use.

Outreach Field Research

CAMLINK has already undertaken an intensive field research on in puts. The results point to the need for a Market Information Service for Cameroon’s rural populations with low income earning power. Exchange working sessions have been organized with authorities of the agriculture public sector and leaders of other partner NGOs involved in the collection of useful data to be provided to farmers and consumers.
CAMLINK interviewed the petit traders interested and willing to collaborate once the service becomes operational. These middle men are mostly those who look for market outlets that farmers scout on permanent basis..
Before take off of this service link with farmers, workshops have to be organised to capacitate staff and stakeholders of the project. To lay the foundation, CAMLINK already discussed with experts in mushroom and snail farming. These experts have accepted to share their knowledge with us and farmers during planned workshops. These partners are only waiting the announcement of take off dates for the training.
The data collected so far shows the extent at which CAMLIK Farmers Club project would serve as a potential employer of many school leavers to serve as relay and community education agents at different levels. The out come will be the reduction of rural exodus and the current massive rural-urban migration. 

GENESIS OF CAMLINK Farmers Club Project

It all started with a keen observation of what is happening around us.
Scenario 1 
If you go to the urban towns and cities, where a majority of inhabitants are employed by some industry or state-run corporation, you are likely to see a handful of individuals who practice farming as a hobby. Every week-end, they go behind their houses, and tend after their small gardens of assorted vegetables, etc. In case some pests or fungi attack their farm, they walk down the street to a cybercafé and Google out information about this unusual occurrence that threatens their gardens. Sometimes they receive information that enables them solve the problem .Yet they do not depend on those small gardens behind the house for subsistence. It is just a hobby. So when they receive their salaries, they go to nearby markets to buy food from farmers whose agricultural activities provide food for them all year round. 
Scenario 2
A majority of inhabitants in the rural areas practice agriculture as their only profession to earn a living. Cut off from daily information by bad roads, and the absence of modern tools of communication, they blindly work their way through dense forests, turning them into farmlands, and rely on the whims of nature for a good harvest. A majority of these farmers are ignorant of existing opportunities, lack the knowledge of good planning and do not receive information that enables them contain pest outbreaks. They are not even familiar with sustainable farming methods. Training workshops to boost food production hardly take place in the villages. These peasants invest their energy and money on vast acres of farmland with the expectation that a bountiful harvest will enable them sell their produce to city dwellers, enrich themselves, send their children to school, or pay for a visit to the doctor when they fall sick. When disaster that could have been averted through information strikes their farms, everyone in the family and community is affected directly or indirectly. Children drop out of school; the city dwellers do not receive their regular supplies and suffer through price hikes brought about by food shortages and scarcity. Life becomes difficult for everybody and the stage is set for new idle farmers' families and hungry city dwellers to engage in whatever activity it takes to make provisions for them.
 
A Hungry Man is an Angry Man 

 Today it is fishermen turned pirates off the coast of the Indian Ocean. They wreck havoc, take hostages and demand huge ransoms. These criminal acts undermine the authority of their state and destabilize the socio-political institutions. They disrupt the peace and harmony not only of Somali People, as the impact of their lawless pursuits is attracting and having global impact. This is not right. Tomorrow, it might be the farmer anywhere in rural Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe resorting to lawless acts because their once cherished profession no longer yields them the benefits expected. To have hundreds of thousands of disenchanted farmers and consumers taking the easy way to riches through lootings and other criminal acts paints a very grim picture of our world. Yet these hard working men and women would not engage in deviant behaviour if they were not hungry. Yes, angry consumers will not become lawless in these times of economic recession if they received information about sources of abundant food supply that would make them spend less and live better. Farmers or consumers become angry when they can no longer satisfy their basic needs. Something needs to be done about the current situation for us to live in peace. 
 
VISION OF CAMLINK

CAMLINK Challenges the ideas that under advantaged people should continually depend on aid packages. It buys the idea of the Chinese proverb, "Give a man fish, and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". CAMLINK seeks to replicate this idea within farming communities. This, the organisation strives to achieve by giving rural peasant farmers simple tools that inform and empower them. CAMLINK is conscious of the fact that access to internet offers a broad range of opportunities though it is not ignorant about the huge costs involved in procuring these computer jewels that facilitate Information and Communication exchange. It is for this reason that CAMLINK proposes direct instant SMS messaging to the mobile phones of farmers because these are the very tools the farmers themselves possess.

OBJECTIVE
Develop a global partnership for development - Develop an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, including a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction-nationally and internationally.

Description
The project team is going to be dealing with people who are advanced in age in most cases and are parents. We need all the subtlety the situation demands as we strive to meet the needs of the different farming communities.
We shall also need to learn public relation techniques that enable people to meet the different stake holders within Government and Civil society in Cameroon.
Sustainability Model
The farmers will subscribe for a token to receive SMS and this shall be used for a start to buy SMS credits to sustain the project. As other farmers and stakeholders get the impact of the initiative, there is no doubt many will respond to the invitation to subscribe to the service and benefit from SMS information and education system. If the project receives small financial support, the information to the farmers will be free of any charge.

Potential obstacles
Obtaining funding for community based projects has been a major obstacle to the expansion of the work of Cameroon Link. Getting the institutions that represent agriculture, trade and industry to cooperate with CAMLINK has also been a challenge. We believe that the recognition and endorsement of our idea as reflective of efforts to eradicate poverty and reduce dependence shall enable the Cameroon government and international funding institutions to give us the needed support.

Project Milestones

There was a field study in Melong, a typical farming community to discuss this project. CAMLINK acquired SMS credits online to send messages to farmers, and this warmed the hearts of the project team to continue research for sustainability. Now as a team the ambition is to expand the SMS coverage to reach at least 5000 farmers weekly. For this to happen, we need funds to purchase SMS credit and also to create a feedback data base through internet networking. Funds are needed to remain connected by internet permanently. CFA 25.000 is needed every month to remain connected 24/24.

Project Assessment Staff

Agricultural Technicians
These are people with knowledge of farming and agriculture. They will provide the farmers with necessary modern farming techniques and teach them best farming practices. There are quite a number of trained agricultural technicians and CAMLINK only needs to allocate a small allowance to compensate them for service rendered.

Food Processing Engineers and Experts

These are people with knowledge in food processing. They will provide information on effective food handling, processing and conservation methods. They will also carry out quality control of the food put on sale in the markets or for exportation. Quite a good number of trained food and nutrition experts exist in Cameroon and CAMLINK needs only to compensate them for service rendered with the allocation of an allowance.

Software Developers

People in this category will take care of ICT channels and facilities. They will be required to develop Soft wares, websites, etc. to be used by the various operational task force of the CAMLINK Farmers Club Project. Soft ware Developers exist already and CAMLINK needs only an technical allowance to compensate them for service rendered.

Internet Connection

From day one of execution of the CAMLINK project, permanent internet connection at various sites and offices of the project is needed. The internet links will serve to connect sites, villages, towns and cities within Cameroon first and also connect the CAMLINK project to markets in countries abroad. Internet connection will enable web access to the CAMLINK Project website to serve as the main advertising task force of the Project. The importance of a web site presence cannot be over emphasized. To start, funds have to be scouted to get connections operational linking a few key offices of the CAMLINK Project.

Communication Credit

The CAMLINK project will be unable to guarantee that every participant will have net access and computer. But most participants already possess mobile telephone sets. The project therefore takes advantage of this to provide instant messaging service to participants-farmers especially - informing them on possible disaster outbreaks, possible market outlets, buyers/sellers at home and abroad with updates on project activities. CAMLINK is scouting for funds to purchase more appropriate ICT computer servers and communication credit for the computer room in its Douala office.

Digital Cameras

To effectively market the project idea and its produce (farm produce), the project will need digital cameras for uploading samples, adverts, shows, documentary, etc. CAMLINK needs the best cameras and cost effective tools for this service.

Community Offices in Villages, Towns and Cities

For permanent presence and impact, the project needs to set up offices at various sites around the country. To get the peasant farmers more involved, CAMLINK is depending on community farmers’ cooperatives and local radio stations as the focal points in the villages. To enhance this partnership, CAMLINK will assist population during election of their farmers cooperative peer leaders and motivate them with small allowances during training for their installation. This will mean organizing peer education training on the functioning of the system.

Farm Produce Distribution Points in Villages, Towns and Cities

The project will set up distribution points around the country to ease exchange and distribution of produce from the farms in the farmers’ cooperatives. This will facilitate safety and handling. Here is the McDonald idea! If this is the case, we depend on the community, rents, subsidies, and grants to make this possible.

Financial Houses

The project will not need to set up financial houses, but use the farmers’ cooperatives as the Peasant Farmers’ Financial House. This will ease money transfer processes and prepare the farmers for project activities ownership. This will mean selecting members of the community for training on project management and accounting. This system will promote gender and equal opportunities with sharing of tasks between the men and the women. It will encourage peace and unity and consolidate marriages within communities.
The farmers’ cooperative unions or organizations will hold meetings regularly to evaluate progress and farmers can start reducing small loans to expand their activities.

Cybercafés

Consumers have four (4) different ways of placing their orders: Use of internet website, phone calls, Mobile phone SMS and visit at the distribution point. Individuals not using private web access will have to turn to the cybercafés. Cybercafés will be installed in villages with large populations and farm out puts.

Transport Services/Facilities

The project is in need of the services of transporters and transport vehicles to move farmers’ produce from their farms to the cooperatives for those who require this service when the roads are accessible. The produce will later be moved from warehouses to distribution points, from distribution points to consumer homes, from warehouse to warehouse, distribution point to distribution point, warehouse to exportation points. We can make use of the existing cooperative transport system but to avoid regular vehicle break downs and maintenance and delivery problems the project needs vehicles and transport services dedicated for its use alone.

Computers and Accessories

The project will require computers for each office or distribution point to collect data. For the beginning not all points will be computerized. Small holder schemes will be treated manually and processing at the offices and sales points would be centralized. However, computers will greatly facilitate communication and processing of order, requests for supply, registration and book keeping.

Furniture and Equipments

The offices, sales and distribution points will be equipped with furniture. These will include tables, chairs, cupboards, fans, etc. Weighing equipment, balances, loading cranes, trolleys, etc. will be placed in warehouses.

Warehouses around areas of mass production

Warehouses will be located in areas of mass production. These will serve as areas for early preservation and temporal food storage location. Farmers will deposit food items for sale in the ware houses to reduce their transportation problems. The community will provide space for the ware house in each locality as their moral contribution to the project. But the project will construct specialized warehouses where there will be need.

Storage Facilities

Like warehouses and distribution points, the project will construct or rent good storage facilities to handle delicate and perishable food items, without which handling becomes a serious problem.

Initial Funds

For an effective take off of the project activities, funds are needed for community awareness and installation of the initial facilities. For sustainability we require community support, grants, and subsidies including profit derived from the services provided by the project, charity and personal sacrifices.

Legal Advisor

There is a need for a legal advisor to backup the project activities to make sure each phase is guaranteed and covered by law. A lawyer will be hired for rendering legal advice and legal procedures services. The project will make payments for service is rendered by legal advisor.

Administration & Good Governance

The project will employ a good governance administrator to check cheating, stealing, etc. at all levels of the project. The good governance administrator will work in partnership with the required government services for processing transit documents.

Management and Staff
The project will recruit staff based on merit and equal opportunities will be accorded both sexes. Project descriptions will be made public and advertized before selection through tests and interviews.
The Project Director is searching for potential funders and partners for the execution of some activities mentioned above. If you are interessted, send a mail to James Achanyi-Fontem at jafontem@yahoo.com

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Breastfeeding: Men Urged to Support



The above is the caption attributed to an advocacy article published in Cameroon Tribune national daily of Tuesday, August 18, 2009 edition by Martin Nkematabong. In Cameroon, the breastfeeding rate remains as low as 24 per cent the newspaper informed its readers. This is how Martin Nkematabong narrated the advocacy story:
“The World Breastfeeding Week crusade kicked off in some 120 countries across the globe since August 1st under the theme <>. With respect to the agenda of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, WABA, the Cameroon Minister of Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda, launched the campaigns at Obala in the Centre region on August 6. This year’s activities aimed to draw community attention to the vital role breastfeeding plays during emergencies world wide, stress the need to protect and support breastfeeding before and after emergencies, and also mobilze and nurture networking and collaboration among stakeholders.
The crusades continue in the Littoral and south west region, where w local health NGO <> in partnership with two staff from a German owned NEON Magazine, Tobias Zick and Per-Anders Pettersson, propagated the doctrine of breastfeeding protection, promotion and support in community health posts and several enclave neighbourhood of Douala City.
According to the national coordinator of Cameroon Link, James Achanyi-Fontem, who is also the international coordinator of WABA Men’s Initiative, their target is to educate, mobilize and fully involve men and youths in breastfeeding advocacy nationwide.
Current statistics indicate that the breastfeeding rate in Cameroon stands at 24 per cent, an index considered relatively too low compared to other Africa countries. The malaise has been blamed on the lack of community involvement and commitment in antenatal and post natal education, absence of men and youth support groups, the unchecked manufacturing and dumping of infant formulae to both the working class and low income mothers, traditional beliefs that sustained breastfeeding prohibits sexual contact for too long, and that breast milk is an incomplete nutrition to the African child.
Besides that, the high incidence of the HIV/AIDS in the Cameroon has rendered breastmilk inedible to many families, while most health professionals still lack adequate knowledge about breastfeeding.
At the Obala launching ceremony, Mr. James Achanyi-Fontem, urged the Cameroon Minister of Public Health to help valoriser and reinforce the National Breastfeeding Code, which forbids the sale or promotion of breastmilk substitutes in hospital settings. As Martin Nkematabong did observe, <>.For more on the World Breastfeeding week, click on the following links – http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/worldwide.htm, http://cameroonlink.blogspot.com and http://fecabpa.blogspot.com
Martin Nkematabong is a senior health journalist with the public national daily, Cameroon Tribune.Cameroon Tribune can be read on the following link - http://www.cameroon-tribune.net

Saturday, August 15, 2009

European Volunteers Support Cameroon Link



European Volunteers Support Cameroon Link Code Monitoring Campaign During WBW 2009 In Douala
Tobias Zick of the German Neon Magazine in Munchen and Per-Anders Pettersson, Swedish Freelance Photographer based in South Africa joined the Cameroon Link team in Douala to assist in the execution of the world breastfeeding week action plan 2009.
The volunteers visited the Bamenda, North West highlands to witness how illegal milk market competition by companies was affecting breeders in Cameroon, who are facing problems with the distribution of their fresh cow milk collected in the region.
Both Tobias and Per-Anders accompanied Cameroon Link in its journey from health area to health area in Bonendale, Bonamikano, Ngwele and Grand Hangar in the Douala city neighbour, before swiftly witnessing the company violations at the Bonassama District Hospital in Bonaberi and CEBEC Protestant Hospital in Sodiko-Douala.
As Cameroon Link and partner network associations like COGESID Mambanda, COGESID Bonamikano and ASSF Ngwele echoed messages relevant to the theme of the world breastfeeding week 2009 during educative talks within their communities and calling on the population to join in campaign for protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding during emergencies, Tobias Zick from Germany and Per-Anders Pettersson of Swedish origin conducted interviews on the strategies put in place by the company violators of the international and national Code.
In Bamenda, they had collected information on the consequences of European milk powder dumping. Tobias was interested particularly about the extent to which imported milk powders distort market chances for farmers in Cameroon, while documenting recent examples of baby food marketing malpractices, especially breastmilk substitute distribution in hospitals and other health facilities.
On the August 6, the date of the arrival of the European volunteers. The president of the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, FECABPA, James Achanyi-Fontem, had called on the government to strengthen Cameroon’s national code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes by including sanctions as part of the already well formulated articles during the launching mass event in Obala.
Achanyi-Fontem told the story of the birth of federation on the 14th September 2007 and its vision which is to protect, promote and support breastfeeding action with health facilities and communities of Cameroon. He added that FECABPA was out to advocate for human rights, maternal and child care with the aim of promoting the well being of the mothers and children.
The President of FECABPA thanked the minister of public health for sponsoring the training of 30 breastfeeding counsellors in November 2008 and that the NGOs were already well armed for the acceleration of partnership with the government in the area of infant and young child feeding.
The FECABPA president said, though much had been achieved, there is still much to be done for Cameroon to qualify for certification of at least one Baby Friendly Hospital or a Baby Friendly Community. More educative materials are needed for the expansion of community social mobilisation for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.
He used the opportunity of the WBW 2009 launching in Obala to publicly present the Gold Medal won by Cameroon following the 2008 WABA WBW marathon events competition, while inviting the ministry of public health and UNICEF to support the participation of the Cameroon delegation at the forth coming WABA Global Forum 3 scheduled in Quebec, Canada from the 14th -17th June 2010. The theme of the WABA Global Forum 3 is “Innocenti & Beyond: Breastfeeding in a Family-Friendly World”.
FECABPA also recommended that the government should urgently put in place a National Code Monitoring Committee, that would suggest punitive measures including business closure, suspension of license or financial penalty for damages caused due to illegal market competition by any company violators of the existing national code. With this, FECABPA suggests that sanctions be included as part of the existing Cameroon National Code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes to strengthen its well formulated articles and encourage effective monitoring strategies that would enforce its application at all levels in the country.
For more information on the world breastfeeding week, click on the following link or copy and paste – www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org

Friday, July 31, 2009

SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES & GENDER ROLES


By Yvonne Bekeny in Finland
Gender equality in the Scandinavian countries is a given and manifest reality in almost all aspects of socio-political and economic life in that part of Europe. Family policies are gender sensitive oriented and parenthood policies are instituted such that gender relations are significant at least on the symbolic level. The extent to which this happens in actual sharing of tasks between mothers and fathers is still a question to be researched? Child rights including the rights to provision and care by both parents have been instituted. Scandinavian policies have undergone changes over the years to ensure fathers opportunities to take care of their families (Eydal, B. 2008). Although the mother is ‘the primary parent…the father can be a visiting care assistant’ (Lammi-Taskula in Ellingsater & Leira, 2006). Transferring part of parental leave is negotiated by the parents with no explicit suggestion to change the status-quo of gender relations. The mother’s primacy in childcare remains unchanged. Norway, Sweden and Iceland, have a more clear-cut orientation in promoting father care and roles sharing between women and men in infant care. Lammi-Taskula states that ‘Finland and Denmark on the other hand have vague positions in striving for gender equality in promoting father care’ (Lammi-Taskula in Ellingsater & Leira, 2006). Fathers take only a small portion of the whole parental leave period in all Scandinavian countries. Nonetheless, these gender balanced duties seem to be conditioned by socio-economic factors in the countries rather than by policy claims. There is a variation within the countries themselves and within the nature of employees; white-collar, blue-collar, minority, well-educated parents all have different views about sharing of duties equally over childcare. Lammi-Taskula maintains that “for large numbers of Nordic parents, unverified assumptions…about economic consequences of equal sharing of parental leave as well as cultural conceptions of gender and parenthood, especially motherhood, hamper negotiations both in the family and in the work place. Unreflected, unequal gender relations are naturalised and remain unchallenged” (Lammi-Taskalu in Ellingsater 2006).
These observations raise questions of the nature and limits to gender equality that the Scandinavian countries can declare. This idea is even more illustrated in the Norwegian context where parental leave arrangements are usually classified as policies enhancing gender equality. However, parental leave can be ambiguous with regard to gender equality objective, both regarding policy rationale and policy impact (Ellingsater in Ellingsater & Leira 2006). National variations of parental leave arrangements actually reflect different purposes, and generally are geared towards encouraging women to stay at home and promoting gender equality by supporting mother’s employment rather than shared responsibility in childcare. This idea is further substantiated by Boje (2006) who posits that even if mothers in all Scandinavian countries have taken up employment in large numbers, the traditionally gendered pattern of responsibility for child care remains in the large majority of families. In his article, he observes that although Denmark and Sweden seem to have the most equal division of caring responsibilities, even ‘the strong political commitment to equality has not fundamentally changed the gendered division of childcare. ‘Progressive and women friendly policies concerning work and family might modify the prevailing gender order but more profound changes can only be accomplished through comprehensive changes in norms and values concerning gender roles ( Boje in Ellingsater & Leira, 2006). Hence, looking at the above analysis it can be said that the question of gender roles in childcare in the Scandinavia is almost still a myth and in as much as the state would want to achieve gender equality in almost all spheres of life, the issue of gender equality in childcare is still a challenge to these states. Eydal (2008) remarks that if this myth could become a reality pretty soon, the new generation of children born in the family where both parents take care of children, will be the ones to break the vicious cycle of gender inequality.

BREASTFEEDING FATHERS’ SUPPORT IN FINLAND


By Yvonne Bekeny in Finland
Breastfeeding in general and exclusive breastfeeding in particular has been a natural practice in Finland for several years. The importance of breastfeeding is emphasized by health care staff, and families benefit a lot from this practice because of the welfare services provided by the state in addition to the gender sensitive approaches to child care. A look at two generations of parents in Finland reveals that like in most western countries, breastfeeding was not an issue or “fashioned as being sexy” some 25 years ago. I interviewed parents of two different generations in Finland to learn about how breastfeeding evolved and how fathers supported the mothers who breastfed.
Liisa is 53 years old and breastfed her two grown up children.

“Breastfeeding was not common and was not strongly supported by the health personnel 25 years ago. I breastfed my children because I felt that it was natural and I did that exclusively for six months before introducing liquids and soft food. I had so much milk that I extracted and donated to the hospital because milk banks in Finland generated income for women who gave some of their breastmilk to the hospitals to assist working mothers or others who had problems breastfeeding their babies. Hospitals made it easier by having health personnel go around from home to home to collect the milk for their first food banks. During the periods I breastfed our babies, my husband was totally supportive and helped me with house chores and carrying the baby sometimes so I can rest. He learnt how to change the diapers at night and assist me too with this task. Indeed, it was just a total agreement between my partner and me to have the children breastfed and to do it well”.
Sirpa is 53 years old and nurtured her two grown up children now aged 33 and 25.
Sirpa said, in her case, breastfeeding was very much a mothers business and her personal decision because it was not emphasized in their days like today. In her words, “To me, it was a burden because I did not get any support from my husband.” It was a religious and legalistic burden on women because the state and the church did not provide any kind of support to women in those days. The state and religious organisation considered that it was the right of the child, that a mother should breastfeed her baby. Many did not see how men could be associated to the task of breastfeed.
Annette is 23 years old and a first-time mother. Her baby is two years old already
“I did exclusive breastfeeding for four months before introducing water and supplementary food. However, I continued mixed feeding until our son was 11 months old. My husband was extremely supportive. He did the house chores and this permitted me to have enough time to breastfeed. My partner took the baby and padded him after breastfeeding and this help as father attachment to the baby. He gave me a lot of psychological support and I think most of my friends get that kind of support from their partners too”.
Matti is a 24 year-old first-time father and husband of is Annette
Matti during the conversation with Yvonne gave the reason why he supported Annette. “I supported Annette because I thought that our baby will benefit a lot from breastfeeding. I would give her pillows during the process for her to seat comfortably. I helped to make the place comfortable for her so that both mother and baby were in comfortable positions during the process. I used to get food for her because I knew that she needed to eat well to be able to breastfeed well too. I generally took care of her and made life easy for her. I tried to give her all the psychological support because it was tough for both of us. I did the house chores so she could have much time to rest”. This kept us closer in the interest of our baby boy.
Jessica is 25 year- old mother of two children aged 7 and 6 years already.

Jessica got her babies when “Breastfeeding was already quite common. “My husband was very helpful and did the house tasks, changing the babies’ diapers at night. Unfortunately, I had some allergies, so I could not practise exclusive breastfeeding completely. For this reason, my husband and I decided to introduce other foods quite early enough for the baby not to loss weight and my partner helped in preparing food for the babies too”.
Tiina is 31 years old has 3 children who are aged 7, 6 and 3.
The first two babies of Tiina were born with a difference of just one year. In Tiina’s words, “I got very good support from my husband although he didn’t stay up at night to help change the diapers. I used to have much milk and donated some to the hospital. My partner helped me in doing the extraction and because of his total support, we were able to breastfeed all three children exclusively for 1 year each before continuing with mixed feeding. Our first baby was breastfed for 14 months, the second for 20 months and the third for 29 months and this was thanks to the support I got from their father”.
The above interviews were conducted on Sunday, 3rd of May, 2009

Men's Initiative


SCANDINAVIAN FATHERHOOD AND CHILDCARE
By Yvonne BEKENY, MA, Development & Cooperation
When we talk of about the Scandinavian countries, we are referring to Denmark, Sweden and Norway, but in this infant and young child feeding investigation, Finland and Iceland have been included on the list because they also share similar features. In Ellingsater & Leira (2006) used as a reference, they have been as such. These are the countries in the Northern part of Europe which share close historical and cultural connections. They are welfare states which assume total responsibility for the welfare of their citizens.
The Scandinavian countries are reputable in their work and family policies that promote gender equality and through these policies, provide more services and benefits for households and therefore lessening the burdens of families. Welfare and care services facilitate the employment of women in these countries according to Leira in Ellingsater & Leira (2006). Leira further states that fathers as well as mothers are presumed to be capable of balancing employment and the care of children. Although very slight differences exist among the Scandinavian countries, they all provide mothers and fathers with ‘the choice of either publicly prolonged familised care or defamilised care services. Parenthood targets working and domesticated mothers Leira emphasized in Ellingsater & Leira (2006).
Parental Leave
Parental leave in the Scandinavia is quite a long period covered by the state for both father and mother. The duration of leave for the mother ranges from six months to ten months and even up to eighteen months in Sweden (Eydal, B. 2008). Paternity leave is a shorter period and it is three weeks in Finland and Iceland, and two weeks in other Scandinavian countries. On the other hand it was surprising to not that paternity leave has been abolished in Denmark. Nevertheless, the father can share the parental leave with the mother according to their mutual agreement. The leave period arrangement under such an agreement varies from country to country (Lammi-Taskula in Ellingsater & Leira 2006).
In principle, only one parent at a time remains at home on parental leave to take care of the child, while the other goes to work or study. However it is normal for the other parent to take regular annual leave and stay at home with the other during the same period. Paternity benefits in the scandinavian countries depend on the length of time the father has been in full employment. Lammi-Taskula in Ellingsater & Leira, mentions that ‘in Finland, a father living together with the mother of the child is entitled to parental leave and benefit regardless of the mother’s position in the labour market. In Sweden, even if the father does not leave with the mother, he is also entitled to parental benefit if their child lives in Sweden and the parents have shared custody. These forms of leave are part of the Social Insurance scheme; therefore earnings related compensation is paid during the leave period.
References
•Ellingsater, L. A. & Leira, A. (2006) (Eds) POLITICIZING PARENTHOOD IN THE SCANDINAVIA, Gender Relations in Welfare states. The policy press, UK.
•Eydal, Gudny Bjork (Associate Professor, University of Iceland, Reykjavic, Iceland) (2008)
•Lecture Delivered in the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Jyvaskyla on the 19th March 2009.