Thursday, May 22, 2014

Traditional Rulers Join CASD to Promote ARHR

NOWEFU Executive Members at CASD's workshop on ARHR

 “We, the North West Fons’ Union (NOWEFU), today declare that, our traditions henceforth, denounce any belief and practice that exposes our daughters to early pregnancies. We are committed to end adolescent pregnancies and transgressors shall be punished....... Parents should promote Adolescent Reproductive Health and Rights (ARHR) by discussing sex education with their children at home” Hon. Fon Teche Njeih, President General of NOWEFU.

There is an African proverb which says “The piper determines the rhythm of music not the  dancers”.  Similarly, traditional rulers in Cameroon define the cultures and traditions that determine the attitudes and behavior in the community, and not the community members. Unfortunately, from ancient days till now, the cultural and traditional practices in the North West Region of Cameroon significantly encourage incidences of adolescent pregnancy. In most of the villages, if a beard-chin man or a full-breast woman dies without a child, he or she is buried with a stone in the coffin as a sign of disgrace. In some villages, there is a belief that before a girl gets married, she must prove her maturity and fertility by giving birth as soon as possible. These societal pressures conspire against adolescent girls, making motherhood a likely outcome of their transition from childhood to adulthood. Instead of staying in School, 127 in every 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years get pregnant and drop out of school. Some die of complications resulting from the pregnancies, while others survive and continue the poverty cycle in their families.
To significantly reduce unwanted pregnancies among adolescent girls aged 12 – 19 in the NWR of Cameroon, Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD), designed the "Adolescent Pregnancies - Traditional Rulers Speak Out"(AP-TRSO) project. The AP-TRSO Project strives to encourage traditional leaders (“Fons”) in Cameroon to actively promote adolescent reproductive health and rights. Recognizing traditional leaders’ enormous influence over cultural practices in Cameroon, this project will target local leaders with the goal of transforming them into public opponents of adolescent pregnancy. Through radio placements, poster messages and the training of North West Fons’ Union (NOWEFU) members, this project also hopes to spark positive change in broader community attitudes and behaviors to reduce adolescent pregnancy.

Strides Made

“We, the North West Fons’ Union (NOWEFU), today declare that, our traditions henceforth, denounce any belief and practice that exposes our daughters to early pregnancies. We are committed to end adolescent pregnancies and transgressors shall be punished”

The above declaration was made by Hon. Fon. Teche Njieh of Ngem-eyah, President General of NOWEFU, after a recent advocacy workshop on adolescent pregnancy organized by CASD, targeting traditional rulers in Cameroon. Via the project, the “Fons” learnt and believed that, when a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future dangles like a candle in the wind. Her education may end, her career prospects evaporate, and her vulnerability to poverty, exclusion and dependency multiply. The traditional rulers also learnt and accepted that, families without adolescent pregnancies are more stable, communities with reduced adolescent pregnancies develop faster, and nations that promote family planning achieve a demographic dividend. They are now committed to lead action against adolescent pregnancies in their villages.

In the Horizon

Numfor Alenwi, Executive Director, CASD
To leave from commitment to action, the NOWEFU formed a taskforce that will work with the AP-TRSO project management team to design advocacy messages which will be disseminated to their community members via posters and radio spots. Fortunately, the President of NOWEFU is also the Secretary General of the Cameroon Senate (upper house of parliament). "Working with Hon. Fon Teche is a great opportunity to advance the advocacy on ARHR. We had a meaningful discussion towards raising the issue of ARHR at the Cameroon Paliarment" say Numfor Alenwi, Executive Director, CASD.  CASD is gazed at the horizon, working and watching to see the day when every girl in Cameroon will receive the necessary societal support to delay her first pregnancy and have additional years in school, and when childbearing will not be a cause of death.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

CASD at the 3rd Women Deliver Conference, Kuala Lumpur.

CASD was actively represented at the just ended 3rd Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur by Numfor Alenwi, Executive Director and Co-founder.   
Among over 4500 participants from Ministries of Health, Development Cooperation and leading civil society organizations, we increased visibility of the organization’s vision and network with several organizations including Real Medicine Foundation and Population Action International.  We attended a cross section of the over 120 concurrent plenary sessions and skills building workshops that inspired and informed our mission in building a better world for girls, women and children in deprived communities.
Evidently, this was the biggest exposure the organization has ever had the results will hopefully show in our subsequent activities.

The following highlights were recorded from the some of the speakers at the conference:

“Women who decide when to get pregnant also decide a better future” Melina Gates, Co-Founder of Bill and Melina Gates Foundation.

“If the women are too busy with livelihood activities that they cannot visit the service centre for reproductive health services, follow them to where they spend their days and make sure they learn about the services and make a choice’’ Faith Phiri, Executive Director Girls Empowerment Network Malawi.

“We have 3 million young people in the world today. Therefore we have 3 million opportunities to make progress” Dr Babatunde Osotimehim, Executive Director, UNFPA.

“If CocaCola can be found everywhere then contraception can also reach everywhere” Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO, Global Fund for Women.

‘’If we sit here and talk, things will not change. But if we stand, talk and move, things will change for our countries and for women and children globally’’ Anonymous Young Leader during the Youth Pre-conference.

Watch out for the next set of quotes from the conference here, on twitter: #casdcameroon or facebook:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Senate Must Consider Girls' Contraception Rights

Bih Afanwi got pregnant against her wish at the age of 16. She almost died because her body was underdeveloped and traumatized to support the growth of a foetus. “I saw the world and walls closing on me even as my strength faded out” she says “I admit I was weak in negotiating condom use with him [the boyfriend] but what if I knew they were other contraception choices – better ones I could use without negotiating with him?”.
Bih is only one among the 141 out of every 1000 girls in Cameroon who got pregnant between the age of 15 and 19.  She was lucky to survive because 1 in every 31 pregnant girls die and maternal death is at its worst since 1990 (490 deaths per 100000 live births). [Countdown 2015 Report Card] 

 Regrettably, there are laws in Cameroon that prohibits family planning education in secondary schools. Same laws prohibit access to modern contraception without parental consent for girls below the age of 18.
The UNESCO International Technical Guidelines on Sexuality Education states that effective sexuality education can provide people with 'age appropriate, culturally relevant and scientifically correct information', and includes 'structured opportunities for young people to explore their attitudes and values, and to practice the skills they need to be able to make informed decisions about their sexual lives.
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) confirms that looking at the evolving capacities of young people rather than their age when striking the balance between protection and autonomy gives opportunity for more young people to learn and make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive lives.

If Bih Afanwi and the 63% of girls and women with unsatisfied family planning needs in Cameron could access modern contraception education in class around their 16th birthday, the age they voluntarily started having sex, they would have had the capacity to postpone their first pregnancy and in effect reducing maternal deaths. We cannot hope to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 and even beyond if the most at risk population (girls aged 15-19) cannot chose if and when they should get pregnant.
Now that our legislative system has changed with the recent creation of a senate, young people are also hoping for a change in the legislation on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is time for our policy makers to consider girls by their evolving capacities in the legislation on sexual and reproductive rights. Sexually active girls want the rights to study modern contraception in schools and at home. They also want to make informed choices about their contraception methods. Granting them these rights now as compliments to the moral education from our cultures and religions will reduce adolescent birth rate and maternal mortality in Cameroon.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

How the 'Non-profit Non-loss' Model works

The ‘Non-profit, Non-loss’ business model introduced by Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD) involves three parties: A development organization such as CASD, a microfinance institution and a marginalized community with profitable business potentials.
 The development organization works with the identified community to design a project that generates income on one hand  (for-profit) and uses the profit to finance non-profit goals (like heath and social deliveries) for the community on the other hand. A micro-finance institution is then contracted to fund the project on the basis that the profit would be shared to refund the micro-finance, finance the charity aspect and sustain the implementing organization. It’s a win-win. The community spends its resources on a business that will return the resources in the form of social deliveries. The micro-finance recovers all its money with time and the implementing organization covers its costs.  The greatest secret of this approach is that, it can never fail since the consumers also have a stake in the profit. They therefore patronize the business without waiting for adverts.

Monday, December 31, 2012

CASD's Numfor Alenwi nominated for Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work

 Numfor Alenwi, Director of Programmes at CASD was shortlisted among the 10 finalist for the Commonwealth Youth Award for Execelelnce in Development WorkThe CYPRCA Selection panel which was composed of representatives from the Zambia Ministry of Youth and Sport, the International Award Foundation and the Commonwealth Youth Programme met on 4th and 5th December 2012 and reviewed a total of 78 nomination received from 19 countries.
Nominations were reviewed on the basis of quality of impact, level of innovation/fresh approaches to problem solving, quality of achievement, quality of the evidence provided and sustainability in building the capacity of future generation to meet their own needs. The scores were then tallied and the best 10 listed ;
Laureate at Commonwealth Regional Consultation, Tanzania
1. Mr. Evans Muchika Wadongo-Kenya
2. Ms.Agwenjang Patience Ngonwei-Cameroon
3. Ms.Foglabenchi Lily Haritu-Cameroon
4. Mr.Kisirisa Muhammed- Uganda
5. Mr.Ngasa Wise Nzikie-Cameroon
6. Mr.Numfor Alenwi Munteh-Cameroon (founder and E.D of CASD)

7. Mr.Isaiah Owolabi- Nigeria
8. Ms. Ellen Daphine Chilemba-Malawi
9. Mr.Salu Oluwamayowa Adepeju-Nigeria
10. Mr. Derreck Charway-Ghana

The Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work is designed to help celebrate the role of young people as nation builders and partners in development. The Awards offer young people aged between 15 and 29 an opportunity to share their contribution and inspire others to get involved.
Nominees win international recognition and support for their development project. Four awards will be presented regionally, with the top entrant from each region receiving a pan-Commonwealth award. The regional award winners will receive a £1,000 grant, a trophy and a certificate. A Regional Award will be presented to the best of the four awardees in each region. A Pan-Commonwealth Award will be best of the 4 Regional Award Winners.
The Awards are run by the Commonwealth Youth Programme at the Commonwealth Secretariat and are given to outstanding young people working to:
1. promote youth participation in decision-making;
2. promote the economic empowerment of young people;
3. take action for equality between young men and women;
4. promote peaceful and democratic environments in which human rights flourish;
5. provide quality education for all
6. improve access to information and communication technology;
7. promote health, development and values through sports and culture; and
8. Engage young people to protect the environment.