Chickens Fuel Successful Business Growth for Families in Cameroon
For most of his adult life, Abdu Aminu was a successful businessman who bought and sold cattle. He had no difficulty providing for his wife and three children, who lived with him in Agyati, a small community in Bafut in the Mezam Division of the Northwest region of Cameroon. But in 2020, an armed group shut down the cattle market in Agyati, and Abdu lost the means to support his family.
The closure of the market is just one of the many negative impacts of a social-political crisis that started in 2016 in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions, and soon escalated into armed conflict. Over the past six years, hundreds of thousands of families have fled their homes to seek safety and rebuild their lives in host communities, creating growing humanitarian needs and conflict.
The situation for Abdu and his family became even more difficult in 2021, when four of his brother’s children were forced to flee from Ndu, a community about 81 miles away from Agyati, following heightened insecurity. Abdu welcomed his four nephews into his home, but it meant he now needed to provide for eight people.
To keep his family alive, Abdu sought other strategies to remain in business.
“I started acting as a middleman, taking cattle from cattle breeders in Bafut with an agreed price and selling the cattle at Banja, a small community in Bamenda about seven miles from Agyati,” Abdu says. “After selling the cattle, I gave the agreed price to the cattle breeder and kept the profit for myself. This was stressful because at times the profit I got was small and could not help my family as expected.”
In June 2022, Abdu was selected as a participant of the Anglophone Crisis Emergency Response III project, or ACER III, which is implemented by Catholic Relief Services and the Archdiocese of Bamenda, and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Abdu was eligible to receive credit to purchase food and household items, and he was chosen to participate in a program to learn how to start a poultry-rearing business.
Abdu’s family received six rounds of monthly food assistance, a one-time credit to purchase key household items, and poultry assistance, which included extensive training and monitoring support as well as a chicken coop, 43 chicks, chicken feed and other supplies.
Assistance from the project has helped Abdu grow his business, which put him on the path back to selling cattle.
“The support I received from the project put me back on track and enabled me to have the finances to continue with and expand my business,” Abdu says, explaining that he sold his first batch of chicks for about $250. He then reinvested the money to buy 25 more chicks and a calf.
Abdu is now raising his third batch of 40 chicks. He uses the profits from both the chicks and calves to pay for his children’s school fees and medications when they are sick.
“The life of my family has changed for the better,” Abdu says. “We now eat quality, nutritious meals three times daily, and my brother’s kids look so healthy thanks to the food we received. I am glad because I am assured of my family’s survival with the income I make from the livestock activities.”
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, the Anglophone Crisis Emergency Response III project responded to the basic needs of 12,725 individuals from vulnerable Internally Displaced Persons and host families in 27 communities affected by the ongoing crisis in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions. Between April 2022 and March 2023, households received six rounds of monthly food assistance and a one-time credit to purchase household supplies. Sixty households also received training and support to launch poultry-raising businesses to help them become more self-sufficient. Over the past four years, CRS, and the Archdiocese of Bamenda have provided emergency assistance to more than 100,000 people in the Northwest thanks to funds from USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.