Cash assistance: ‘Today, I see a brighter future for my daughters’
For several years now, the Far North region of Cameroon has been facing the effects of climate change, characterized by droughts, seasonal disruptions and recurrent flooding, with disastrous consequences for agriculture, livestock farming and even access to supply centres and markets, among other challenges. This situation has led to a further deterioration in the economic situation of local households.In addition to the effects of climate change, there are social tensions marked by inter-community conflicts and grievances, as well as the presence of non-state armed groups. Over the last ten years, these factors have created a situation of insecurity, leading to population movements and, for many, the loss of loved ones."I lost my husband a few years ago,” says Soumaïra, who lives with her children in the village of Ndoukoula, in the Far North region of Cameroon. "I was 13 when we got married. A few years later I gave birth to our first daughter. My husband took good care of us. His job was to rear the herds of important local men, and he was also responsible for selling them.“One day, as he was returning from a village on the border with Nigeria to sell the animals of one of his bosses, he was killed in an attack. I had only just given birth to our second daughter, and I was already a widow with two children to support.”A new lease on life through cash assistanceHaving lost her parents when she was less than 10 years old, and facing a precarious situation, Soumaîra was taken in by the village chief, who tries as hard as he can to look after her and her daughters."One day, as I was going about my daily chores, I was approached by Red Cross volunteers and some members of my community", she recalls. "They told me they wanted to collect information about me to see if I was eligible for any further financial assistance to help me meet my family's immediate needs."It turns out that Soumaïra’s village is one of eight targeted by the programmatic partnership between the IFRC, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the French Red Cross in Cameroon.As part of the second phase of the partnership's operations in the region, 1,000 households in the Far North region have been receiving cash assistance since January 2024. The cash grants were made to respond to the most urgent basic needs of the population in this region, following armed violence, the impacts of climate change and the residual and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic."I told them everything they wanted to know and I was confident of being selected, which I was. Some time later, they explained to me that I would receive 64,000 Central African Francs (around 91 Swiss francs) in three instalments. With this money, I could buy a few important items for the house, have my children looked after if they were ever ill, and with the rest, if I wanted to, start a small business.“Today I received my first financial allowance and I'm so happy. With this money, I'm going to buy millet and other food to feed my children. I'm also going to start raising livestock and trading for a living. It's a process that will continue with the other funds I receive. I will be able to take care of my daughters' school needs and fight to make a difference to their lives.“Today Icansee abrighterfuture for my daughters.”In addition to the cash assistance, the Cameroon Red Cross is sharing community awareness messages on how best to prepare for and respond to epidemics and disasters, as well as on risk communication and community engagement.