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Development is Woman Led: Nascent CEO

The price of Arabica coffee, the main cash crop in the North West Region of Cameroon collapsed on the world markets in 1980s. Initially, the men coffee farmers could not believe that their main source of income had suddenly vanished. But as the years passed and things did not change, there was a growing realization that men would have to depend on what their wives brought in from the family farms in order to simply eat.

For many men, that was the new normal. As they waited for coffee prices to recover, they sat in the village squares playing draughts and drinking palm wine.  But for the women, this was a dire emergency, which they tackled with the zeal of fire-fighters. They put in longer hours on their farms, planted as many crops on every square inch as possible and fought to eke out more acreage from their husbands’ aging coffee farms.

By the mid-nineties, the men began admitting defeat but resisted the anti-traditional notion that their women were now the family breadwinners in every sense of the word. But the women were not looking back. Their farm yields became even more valuable as a rising population clamored for more food at ever higher prices. The women paid for all family priorities: children’s school fees, uniforms, books and household needs. They even gave their husbands money for their palm wine or beer.

Even in the early 2000s, when the narrative began to shift slightly to acknowledge women’s overwhelming contribution to family wellbeing, ancient traditions still hoisted the myths of men’s superiority.

However, when the first McGovern-Dole Food for Education program came into the area in 2008, it opened the eyes of the community to the vital role women really played in the life of the region.

But in the advent of the 2015 McGovern – Dole Food for Education and Child Literacy program, implemented by Nascent Solutions, the women of the region recognized a champion for their efforts: A champion that recognizes their women-specific challenges, guides them to achieve such priorities as feeding and educating their children, and provides knowledge that helps them manage family incomes. They have also embraced Nascent Solutions and the USDA-funded program for giving them a seat at the table and a voice in making the decisions affecting their communities.

That the management of Nascent Solutions is 70% female, or that our field staff skews majority female is not an attempt at reverse discrimination. It is a simple acknowledgement of the reality that women bear the brunt of the challenges of Africa’s rural communities and that we the women of Nascent, mostly born of the same soil, hear their voices better.

The theme of the 2018 International Women’s Day was “Press for Progress” and Nascent is standing at the forefront of pressing for the progress of women in Africa. So, to our grandmothers and mothers, sisters, daughters and cousins, the Women of Nascent Solutions say “We Hear You!”

Dr. Beatrice Wamey

CEO, Nascent Solutions Inc.

 

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Bringing in the Harvest: School Gardens

Parents and Community gardeners have begun reaping the fruit of their labors, harvesting crops grown as part of the School Gardens component of the USDA funded McGovern-Dole Food for Education/ALIGN program. The harvest will bolster the nutrition of children in the 92 target schools and their the environs. Even though a political crisis has disrupted many government services, parent engagement in the proper nutrition and education of their children has been undiminished and their participation and buy-in of the program has been heightened in the vacuum created by the crisis. All 92 Communities have remained engaged, continuing to receive take-home rations for their home-bound children, work the gardens, and check out books as part of the Mobile Reading initiative, devised to provide continuity for the children in a disrupted learning environment.

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Parental Engagement- Foundation For School Feeding

Parents in the North West Region have been tilling school gardens in preparation for the planting season in Cameroon. This element of the Nascent/McGovern Dole Program illustrates the increasing commitment and ownership local communities are taking in the nutrition and education of their children.

Despite political turmoil that has shuttered schools in the North West, the dedication of our beneficiary communities is undimmed and their eagerness to assure the good health and well-being of their children demonstrated by their contributions of labor for school gardens and their attendance of best farming practices seminars. These Parent Teacher Associations continue to be essential partners as Nascent/MGD strive to find the best means to assist in the education and nutrition of local children while the schools are closed.

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Engaging Communities In Children’s Nutrition

With the planting season just around the corner in March; parents and community members across Bui Division in Cameroon have been preparing and expanding school gardens for the coming growing season as part of the McGovern Dole Food For Education Program implemented by Nascent Solutions. 92 Participating schools and their PTA’s will receive training  from Nascent/MGD field workers on best sustainable farming practices as they move progressively towards autonomous management of the school farms to supplement the school feeding program. These parents and local communities that often struggle to make ends meet and feed their children have been committed partners in improving the lives of their children through education and better nutrition. While political and social unrest are currently prevent regular school sessions in parts of Cameroon, affected communities continue their dedication to the education and nutrition of their children, by enrolling in large numbers for the mobile libraries we provide and doing their part to supplement the nourishment of their kids by tending MGD/ALIGN gardens.

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School Garden Harvest

Nascent Solutions’ programs seek to empower communities and help them acquire autonomy, through education and sustainability initiatives. The recent School Garden Harvest at IPS Njombo in Bui Division, Cameroon, is an affirmation of our bottom up approach to development. Parents and local community members gladly volunteer to to work and tend the gardens as part of the USDA and Nascent Solutions’ MGD FFE/ALIGN project.  The program which seeks to provide hot meals and clean water to 52,000 rural school children in Bui Division has been embraced by local communities and parents who on their own are often unable to adequately feed their children.

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This recent harvest is testament to the success of our advocacy for child education( particularly girls) and for community and parent involvement in the scholastic life of their children. Through the last decade of Nascent Solutions’ working in the region, we have remarked a pendulum swing in many community members from apathy or cynicism towards the education of their children to enthusiasm. The most rewarding part of this buy-in being that in communities like Njombo, parents and residents readily volunteer, to tend the garden, cook meals in school for pupils and, take time away from their own routines, to harvest the crop for the children.

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NSI Staff Break Ground on School Gardens

NSI staff surveying 92 schools for the establishment of FFE/ALIGN school gardens in Bui Division broke ground in early April. Field agents led best-practices agriculture training for over 500 local women and men committed to volunteering time and labor to help their children receive hot meals in schools by tending community school gardens. Before the training sessions, expressed concerns about the local obstacles to food production such as: degraded soils, pest animals, access to water, lack of fertilizer and limited crop options. NSI staff discussed possible solutions with them and offered training in various ameliorative strategies.
demonstrating a raised nursery to participants in Noni during the Agric trainingsm

The training sessions included strategies for addressing community specific obstacles. It further included the best methods for garden pegging, bed measurement, bed formation, manure application and crop planting. 500kg of improved seeds of maize, 500kg of beans, 3075kg of Irish Potatoes, and vegetables were distributed to the participating schools for planting. Water needs will be addressed by FFE/ALIGN’s solar-powered well initiative in the coming months. And a foundation was established to expand the school gardens’ impact in the future by increasing the variety of crops grown with the introduction of hardy and nutrient rich superfoods.
Demonstrating self protection and pesticides application during and Agric training in Nonism

With these efforts and continued community involvement to the degree shown in the gardening training, NSI will be on track to help substantially reduce school hunger in children in Bui Division in Cameroon and increase school attendance and outcomes for the poorest communities.

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International Women’s day 2016

Nascent Solutions joins the international community in celebrating International Women’s day 2016. NSI staff salute the marginalized women of the world. We acknowledge and support their struggle to find voice and agency against ancient customs and forces of oppression and discrimination.

Our programs seek to embody the pledge for parity that is this year’s theme. In Africa where we operate, women still face uphill struggles for equality and parity of opportunity, chance and choice in their lives and their children’s lives.

However we continue to work to educate both men and women in our initiatives, about the importance and need for empowered women in creating strong, stable, happy communities. Thus while we celebrate the many strong, business and community leader women whose voices our programs have helped liberate, we likewise acknowledge that we are a long ways off, from our global objective of equality and parity of women with men in all things.
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International School Meals Day

Nascent Solutions staff and partner schools in Cameroon joined the international community in celebrating International School Meals Day on March 3rd 2016. This is a critical issue with global implications and potential repurcussions. One that it is important to highlight and address considering the grim reality of being a child scholar in an impoverished region.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of hunger globally. With one in four people malnourished or undernourished and 23 million children attending class hungry regularly.
NSI’ ALIGN is specifically geared at addressing this problem, with the objective of dramatically improving school attendance, reducing hunger in students and increasing the attentiveness and productivity of school children in Bui Division.
While we pause to celebrate the gains we have made over the years. We also acknowledge the challenge ahead and invite our guests to join us in our fight against childhood and school hunger, so we can secure a brighter future for children in marginalized communities.
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NS Fetes International School Meals Day

 

Nascents Solutions joined the international community to celebrate  “School Meals Day” on March 5th 2015. Around the world and in Cameroon where Nascent Solutions has made significant inroads in school nutrition, activists marked the day advocating for increased global nutritional support for children within the educational context. These celebrations went on for a few hours, expressive of the community’s hopes for the sustenance of the project.

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The flagship Mc-Govern Dole Food For Education initiative in Cameroon has revitalized and energized the youth in the regions of its application. Nascent Solutions staff were on hand in Bui to witness first hand the gratitude and ebullience of the community and students who have benefited directly from the program.

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They danced and marched and ate the food grown in school gardens to demonstrate their gratitude to the American people and it’s donor organizations. 3.1 million children die every year worldwide as a result of malnutrition. For many poor children, a meal in school is the lifeline that keeps their bodies and aspirations alive.

 

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WFP & Nascent Partner for Refugees in Cameroon

The WFP and Nascent project to assist Central African Republic refugees and their hosts attain self-sufficient lives got underway in November 2013 in Cameroon’s eastern region, with early deliveries of implements for the development of pasture and farmland.

The project covered pasture development via the removal of invasive grass species, beneficial tree and shrub planting and the establishment of pasture barriers, as well as livestock and agriculture training, and took its first steps with the delivery of urgently needed tools. Nascent and WFP staff made the long drive through poor roads, to reach the inaccessible Kette district and four of the project’s target communities: Bedobo, Boubara, Gbiti and Timangolo. Project staffers were received by local administrators and over 100 participating refugees and their hosts in each of the four project locations. Initial deliveries of over 1500 tools, including; hoes, wheelbarrows, machetes, rakes and other essential implements were effected. The participants expressed excitement and gratitude at receiving these simple but badly needed tools as well as an eagerness to begin phase two of the project. However the deliveries still fell short of the necessary objectives due to a larger than expected number of project participants in the visited districts.wfp

With the initial implement and tool delivery complete, groundwork began to further coordinate efforts with local administrators, refugees and hosts to effectively begin pasture development with land clearing, invasive specie removal, tree planting, construction of water points and fences. Once the final tool deliveries were complete, the second phase comprising training, clearing and planting phase effectively began, but was limited by a lack of resources.

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