Life in Cameroon should be so much better than living in many of the impoverished nations that make up the continent of Africa. Albeit a one party state ruled tightly by its president, Cameroon has a decent agricultural economy buoyed by oil reserves and, as such, is a relatively wealthy country. However, life in Cameroon is harsh for most of its citizens with over 40% of them living below the poverty line, higher in rural communities. Malnutrition is rife and is responsible for 38% of all deaths among children under the age of five with one out of every three children stunted. Recent figures suggets that 540,000 people are living with HIV although, like across most of Africa, such incidence is falling, however there are still beieved to be 350,000 childen in the country orphaned by AIDS today.
Conditions in the north and north west of the country present the most significant challenges. In urban areas only 58% of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities falling to just 42% in these rural areas. As such, water related sicknesses amongst children in Cameroon are high. Organisations such as UNICEF have been carrying out campaigns in schools stressing the need to wash hands after using the toilet and before eating to prevent outbreaks of cholera. Today their priority is limiting the progress of COVID-19.
Cameroon itself is located in western central Africa having 249 miles of coast on the Gulf of Guinea/Atlantic Ocean coastline known as the Bight of Biatra. It's further bordered by Nigeria to its west, Chad to its north-east, the Central African Republic to its east and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to its south. Cameroon has an estimated 250 ethnic groups with over 200 languages, although French and English are the official languages reflecting the colonial history of the country. In the west and north-west of Cameroon, where the land mainly consists of plateaus, are tribes referred to as highlanders or grassfielders. The north itself is home to the Muslim Fulani (Fulani homestead below) whilst in the south are Bantu speaking tribes including the Fang, Duala, Basa and Bakas. Historically, after the defeat of the Germans in WWI, the area became effectively three areas; French Cameroun and the British Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons, which were administered separately.
At the time of independence, Northern Cameroons voted to be integrated into the newly independent Nigeria, whilst Southern Cameroons opted to be part of the newly emerging Republic of Cameroon. Today there is still a strong movement in the former Southern Cameroons to break away and form the independent Republic of Ambazonia. Indeed this was proclaimed in 1999 but has gained no recognition either within and outside of Cameroon.
Cameroon families live in traditional mud and thatch homes common across the Sahel although the use of tin and cement is becoming more common particularly in the south. Outside of urban areas, basic facilities like electricity are rare and in the north over half the population does not have access to proper medical facilities. The majority of these communities have a market place where on a daily, weekly or less often basis women sell their produce such as palm oil whilst men trade their livestock and bushmeat in a separate area. In the north of the country, every village has its own mosque, however modestly constructed. Life in Cameroon is dominated by men with both women and girls reduced pretty much to a role of servitude where violence against them is common place. Many girls are subjected to the practise of 'breast ironing'; an attempt to mutilate their breasts to prevent them developing in order to ward off advances by boys who associate the growth of breasts as a signal the girls are ready and available for intercourse.
70% of the population is involved in agriculture whilst 13% are involved in industries such as timber, tobacco, printing and the production of clay and glass items whilst the richest in Cameroon are involved in the over inflated and widely regarded as corrupt and inefficient service sector. Around 5000 are engaged in the fishing industry. Cameroon is in 153rd place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country with a life expectancy of 58.92 years (2018). The video (below) shows images of daily life in Cameroon and gives a good look and feel about what its like living in the country.
Life in Cameroon: Volunteer in Cameroon
Life in Cameroon: Cameroon Children
Life in Cameroon: Child Sponsor Cameroon
Life in Cameroon: Cameroon Country Profile
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