Aiding Conflict-Affected Families in Cameroon

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“There were deafening gunshots almost every day and many houses were burnt,” says Clara Lomia Samje, a former resident of the small village Bamunka in the conflict-hit Northwest region of Cameroon. 

The mother of four was a thriving farmer in Bamunka. She was able to send her children to school and even build her own house. But following heightened insecurity in the area, her children dropped out of school in 2021. The family was forced to abandon their home and farmland and travel on foot to the neighboring village of Baligashu. Once there, Clara and her children lived with a relative, but she had to search for food for herself and her children.

“In Baligashu, my family and I faced a lot of difficulties for a couple of years,” Clara says. “We could barely feed ourselves or afford our necessities. I had to manage with a liter of cooking oil for months. We ate once a day and the meals were not nutritious.” 


woman cooking in Cameroon

Clara Samje cooking corn which she redeemed using an electronic voucher from the ACER project.

Photo by Naddin Tessa for CRS


Clara worked for farm owners in the community and, in return, she was compensated with small quantities of food, which she brought back home to cook and sustain her family.

In April 2023, Clara was identified by a community leader as a displaced person living in vulnerable conditions. She was then registered by a team from Catholic Relief Services, enabling her to receive help from the ACER project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The project assists more than 10,800 people displaced by conflict by providing them with monthly distributions of funds through electronic voucher cards. The cards can be used to purchase food and household items from participating vendors in the local markets. 

“The project has changed my life,” Clara says. “Through this assistance, I can regularly purchase cooking oil, rice, fish, peanuts, beans and other essential food, which I could not afford.”

Clara and her family have so far received three voucher distributions for food assistance and one distribution to purchase non-food items, such as blankets, bedsheets, plates, cups and buckets. In addition to the food items, Clara was able to use her electronic voucher card to purchase a mattress, a pot and a water storage container. She is still eligible to receive four more food-assistance voucher distributions and one non-food voucher distribution.

Clara’s children have resumed school in Baligashu, and she hopes to save some of what she makes so that she can continue to take care of her children’s education.

“For the first time in years, I can now save the little money I make from odd jobs in the community,” Clara says. “God being my helper, I am happy to say, I will have some money saved to fall back on. I am grateful for all the assistance.”

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and implemented by Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Bamenda, the Anglophone Crisis Emergency Response IV, or ACER project, is responding to the basic needs of 10,800 internally displaced people and host families in 19 communities affected by the crisis in Cameroon. As of October 2023, households have received three rounds of monthly food-assistance voucher distributions and a one-time credit to purchase household supplies. More than 100 households also received training on poultry raising to launch businesses that can help them become more self-sufficient. Over the past four years, the ACER project has provided emergency assistance to more than 100,000 people in the Northwest region of Cameroon.