The Load Remains Heavy

The socio-economic scars of the war against the Boko Haram insurgency in the Far North Region are yet to be completely healed. Considered as the poorest part of the country even before the outbreak of the conflict, the series of attacks are known to have further exacerbated the life of the population. The Far North Region is a veritable crossroads of trading routes and cultures. Besides commerce, the local economy is based on agriculture, livestock farming, fishing, tourism, transportation of goods, handcrafts and hunting. The informal sector is strong, and contraband rife. Until the 1980s, the region’s different ethnic communities were engaged in specific economic activities depending on their respective geographic zones, climates and traditions. Before the arrival of Boko Haram, desertification and poverty had already debilitated these specialisations, such as fishing for the Kotoko, livestock farming for the Choa Arabs, agriculture for the Mafa, with the exception of trading in the case of the Kanuri. Forced to move, people have taken their traditional skills with them and diversified their sources of livelihood: in the Logone and Chari, the Kotoko, who were formerly fishermen, now also farm rice and exploit natron deposits; and many Choa Arabs, traditionally livestock breeders, are now involved in commerce and agriculture.
These characteristics have not completely disappeared hence the population is highly rated for its adaptability and resilience. This has given the Cameroonian government and the country’s international partners the opportunity to implement development policies that take account of the diversity and fluidity of the traditional economies of the region. The wide range consequences of the Boko Haram war pushed the government to declare the region a “disaster zone.” This incidentally meant the region will be given the treatment of a “special status.” In this light, socio-economic projects were identified by government in collaboration with its international partners. This programme code name Cameroon Stabilization Window already took off. As indicated by Jean Luc Stalon, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, the programme set out to achieve three main objectives: improve co...



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