An Experience Sharing Workshop organized by the Bamenda Head-quartered not-for-profit Development non-governmental organisation Strategic Humanitarian Services SHUMAS has revealed startling revelations about the difficulties facing internally displaced persons IDPs in the NW region.


Following reports from community based organisations CBOs and Community focal points persons C4D collaborating with SHUMAS in the project for the promotion of essential family practices and social cohesion amongst IDPs and their host communities in the North West and South West Regions, life is near hell for those who have been internally displaced by the armed conflict in the region. 
SHUMAS Experience Sharing Workshop family picture

 
According to the Programs Coordinator for SHUMAS, the SHUMAS-UNICEF funded project was born out of the escalating crisis in the NW/SW regions which has seen many displaced and traumatised. “We decided to come up with this particular program to promote essential family practice amongst the IDPs and their host families. Communication is a very powerful tool. Until you communicate with your people, you will not be able to understand the reality.” Billian Nyuykighan said. She regrets that pregnant women have not been able to receive medical as required before delivery and use mosquito nets while basic hygiene gets worst. 


To be able to gather information, the Programs Coordinator says SHUMAS used radio programs and C4Ds on the ground to gather information from the Host communities and IDPs. Motivated by the indefinite stay of IDPs and pressure on host families and communities, Billian Nyuykighan noted that the social cohesion part of the project is of great importance as it works on the food, sleeping or even toilet usage. 



Currently running in five Divisions of the NW, the project initially targeted 5000 households but according to Billian Nyuykighan, though they have not covered the concerned divisions completely, SHUMAS has already reached out to over 8000 households and 32000 IDPs of the 45.000 target only half way gone. She has expressed the willingness for an extension following the sterling and disturbing data being gathered and the continuous escalation of the crisis.


The various reports presented during the experience sharing workshop particularly in rural areas reveal lack of basics like housing with as many as 17persons living in a single room in a farm house in some parts of Boyo and elsewhere most often with full or no toilets. Health services are practically nonexistent in many parts as pregnant women now deliver themselves and many dyeing from basic diseases mostly caused by deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions.   With no access to farms or markets due to gun battles or road blocks, the IDPs now have no easy access to food or basic needs. In case a little is found the prices are high and with no profitable work, they are not affordable. Rampant sex and ignorant pregnancies or misuse and deposit of sanitary pads, no school attendance have become a norm.
 
IDP shares experiences
 “I was trained by SHUMAS on how to identify IDPs living in communities and we have been doing that but with lots of difficulties. Some of the IDPs are traumatised and others very emotional. We have come across situations where pregnant women are unable to visit their hospitals, we have come across who are not receiving their vaccines; the challenges are too many.  Tim Fidelia focal point person laments. She is however consoled by the fact that they were trained to talk to these people and some of them are listening. “We are thankful because without SHUMAS I will not know the situation of IDPs. We are grateful that SHUMAS was there to train us so we can go meet these people to talk with them to comfort them to counsel them at times make them feel a little bit at home.” She adds


Fon Deudone an internally displaced from Batibo hitherto a Business man admits the program has been of great help to him. “I have benefited a lot of experience from the SHUMAS project on issues of IDPs and host communities. We have been having workshops on sanitation and management of limited resources like food, coping with health issues like ANC for the pregnant women. The workshops have really helped us and me as a person because it has improved by livelihood.” He said adding that his wife had a safe delivery because of the ANC attendance after the SHUMAS workshops.



As reported by the CBOs and C4Ds and complimented by the Programs Coordinator, access is a major challenge with the recurrent road blocks and gun battles. Movement restrictions, communication difficulties due to poor network and inability to access community radios in troubled areas also constitute some of the challenges.
 
Director General of SHUMAS Nformi Ndzerem Stephen addressing workshop attendees

Appreciating the CBOs and C4Ds for the job they have been doing, the Director General of SHUMAS urged them to be discipline and sensitive to the environment as they go about their duties. Nformi Ndzerem Stephen maintained that respecting the four humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality Humanity and Impartiality. He reassured the workshop participants of SHUMAS’s readiness to create more community support groups mindful of the challenges emerging from the field.


Since creation, SHUMAS has been working in the areas of education, agriculture, Health, water and sanitation, volunteering, social welfare and environment with the hope of improving lives across Cameroon on in all the areas of intervention through the construction of thousands of classrooms, schools and furniture while giving out support to thousand s of underprivileged children.


Other Stakeholders  in the health and humanitarian sectors like the government and plan Cameroon took active part in the experience sharing workshop.
Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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