FEATURE STORY

Fatimatou: A Courageous Young Rice Farmer in Pouss

March 6, 2017


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Young Fatimatou and her child in their village of Pouss, in Cameroon’s Far North region. 

© Odilia Hebga/World Bank

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are publishing a series of portraits of brave, resilient women throughout the week. Fatimatou lives in the Far North region, one of the poorest regions in Cameroon. Like all the other farmers, this young rice farmer must contend with harsh climate conditions and environmental shocks that degrade the soil and jeopardize the crops.

YAOUNDÉ, March 6, 2017− The heavy rains are drawing near. For the residents of Pouss, a small village located along the embankment separating the village from the Logone River, rain is synonymous with flooding. This was the case in 2012, when the embankment between the Begue-Palam and Pouss villages collapsed under pressure from the swollen river. Scores of villages were hit hard, and dwellings, crops, and livestock were destroyed or engulfed by the rising waters. The surviving victims were evacuated to the villages of Pouss and Guirvidig.

Fatimatou is 30 years old and has six children. A resident of Pouss, she survived the floods in 2012, but may not be as fortunate if the river overflows its banks again given that her house is located less than 30 meters from the embankment.

To ensure that doesn’t happen, the World Bank is financing a flood emergency project for the Far North region, designed to repair and reinforce the embankment and relocate the communities living less than 30 meters from the embankment. These communities will be relocated prior to the start of works along the embankment. Fatimatou and her family are among the households to be relocated. 


" I am happy because the new house will be near my field, so I will have much easier access. I am also happy because thanks to the flood protection works that will be carried out, we will no longer have to worry about water entering our homes and destroying everything. My family and I will finally get the chance to live in a real sturdy house. "

Fatimatou


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© Odilia Hebga/World Bank

Both Fatimatou and her husband are rice farmers, but also raise livestock. As rice farming is seasonal, she also grows millet and has a small vegetable garden. They were given a plot of land on which to rebuild a permanent house.

“I am happy because the new house will be near my field, so I will have much easier access,” she stated. “I am also happy because thanks to the flood protection works that will be carried out, we will no longer have to worry about water entering our homes and destroying everything. My family and I will finally get the chance to live in a real sturdy house.”

The Flood Emergency Project also seeks to rehabilitate 7,500 hectares of rice paddies irrigated by the Société d’expansion et de modernisation de la riziculture (SEMRY) to ensure the expansion and modernization of rice farming, as the Logone valley is home to a fragile ecosystem and is exposed to the harsh Sahel climate. The community in this area subsists primarily on livestock and rice farming. “Life is very hard, even for rice farmers. There are seasons when we can’t grow crops because of the lack of water. At least I still have my garden and the millet to help meet my family’s needs,” Fatimatou explains.

The hopes are that by rehabilitating the rice paddies, there will be two rice seasons per year for thousands of rice farmers such as Fatimatou. The rehabilitation of SEMRY infrastructure and rice paddies will breathe new life into the region and, more specifically, into the communities whose livelihoods depend on rice farming. “This project is a big help to us and will change my life and the lives of the people in the village,” concluded Fatimatou.





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