ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION PROGRAMME
SHUMAS strives to alleviate poverty and improve the standard of living of marginalized rural communities without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs. We seek to help people meet their needs today without compromising their future needs.
Farming is the backbone of Cameroon, and farmers are about 80% of the population. 90% of these farmers are small-scale subsistence farmers. Previously practising shifting cultivation, when the land was no longer fertile, they would allow it to fallow and, after some years, they would return. Due to population pressure, poverty, lack of technical know-how and poor agricultural practices, most farms have been over worked for many years and, with no possibility of nomadic cultivation, good farming land has been drastically reduced.
SHUMAS, via its other projects, has become very aware of this situation and is working to:
- Encourage organic farming methods
- Promote agro-forestry activities through training, support, maintenance and provision of nitrogen fixing tree species to different farmers,
- Protect village water catchments and teach management skills,
- Promote soil degradation and erosion control methods,
- Encourage sustainable afforestation and reforestation. - especially tree planting exercise and the provision of wells in the northern Sahelian region of Cameroon.
A Schools Environment Project initiated since 2008 is an ongoing
program owing to its importance. While we run the program separately,
it has also been incorporated into our school construction program.
The Government Department of Environment is showing a lot of interest
and provides us with much encouragement and support through the North
West Regional Delegation of Environment and Nature Protection.
Schools are involved and we encourage children to become aware of environmental issues by showing them how sustainable activities can create positive local and global differences.
The program introduces practical lesson plans involving seed selection, propagation and planting in their finite sites, using basic organic farming techniques.
It also creates school vegetable gardens from which extra produce can be sold to help fund additional teaching staff. Children learn about the importance of tree planting in general and agro-forestry. For example, the environmental importance and the medicinal properties of tree species and their practical use to man and biodiversity.
With farmers working more than ten hours per day in scorching sunshine or continuous rainfall for less and less output, they soon find themselves and their families held down by starvation just a few months after harvest.
Their produce is nowadays insufficient to feed the family all year round whereas before they had sufficient food all year with a surplus for sale to help pay school fees for the kids.
One option is to purchase chemical fertilizers. However, these are not only potentially environmentally harmful, but companies monopolize the market charging prices quite unaffordable by poor farmers.
SHUMAS, as a short-term measure, has embarked on training many of her target groups to practise organic farming using an integrated farming approach. This is improving the situation, while easing labour and protecting the environment, but unfortunately the problem is far too generalized and needs a more extensive approach. The organic farming approach is the best alternative as farming outputs are locally obtained, and are affordable by everyone.
The 'Integrated Organic Farming & Demonstration Center' has been operational since 2008 enabling many more Cameroonian families to be trained in organic farming.
Though principally targeting rural populations and farmers in general, we hope the Centre should also serve many researchers, students, volunteers, etc around the globe. For fuller details click here.
SHUMAS has nursed hundreds of thousands of agro-forestry tree species like the acacia, calliandra, tefrosial, etc while using the nursery for training and has provided more than 100000 seedlings free of charge to many families and groups in the North West Province of Cameroon.
Indiscriminate Eucalyptus planting in the past, often by early missionaries, has resulted in generalized water shortages and drastic fall in crop yields in many rural communities.
Our Eucalyptus Replacement Programme entails nursing of indigenous tree species to replace eucalyptus plantings in water catchment and farming areas.
While still engaged on the Eucalyptus Replacement Programme, we are
also focusing on protecting village water catchments using natural
methods. (Nursing and planting indigenous tree species can help to
increase water tables within the water catchments)
Human behaviour and global warming are making matters worse and there is great need to protect the few water sources. SHUMAS also is embarking on a campaign to protect existing indigenous forest as well as helping communities understand the problem of climate change and the simple ways we can address it.