Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo: ”Conflict Resolution is essential for food security”

The Coordinator of the Network for the Fight Against Hunger, RELUFA talks on the impact of the sociopolitical crisis on food subsistence in Cameroon.

1-What justifies the organization of such a workshop on World Food Day?

RELUFA has always celebrated world food day but this year 2020, equally mark the 20 th anniversary of RELUFA. Therefore celebration world food day this was important for us because it is a milestone in our existence. We are also organizing this event because there are lots of topical issues affecting food security for us to reflect on. You can say that we have chosen Internally Displaced Persons, COVID-19, Food Systems and Land as topics to discuss during this workshop.

2- The theme for this year is: “Cultivate, Nourish, Sustain. Together, Our Actions are Our Future”. Is it possible for everyone to cultivate today?

Yes that is the theme for this year, but as you ask, is it possible for everybody to cultivate today? The answer is no because there are several pockets of conflicts that have driven farmers away from their land and they are now either refugees or internally displaced. It is more worrying because most of these people live in rural areas where farming is their principal activity. As internally displaced people or refugees, they have become food beggars instead of food producers that they are. This is a major concern.  

3- with the socio-political conflicts today are there people who are out of their areas of origin. What can be done for them to also have access to land?

Your question is pertinent but the answer to me is simple. Resolve the conflicts so they can return to their places of origin and continue with their farming. However, being internally displaced, they still can be able to grow food if they have access to land where they are. The issue of access to land to internally displaced persons is therefore topical and need to be addressed. That is why in the revision of the land law, this is an issue to be also handled but the ideal remain solving our problems early enough than to run around resolving war. Avoiding conflicts will reduce the number internally displaced people from war although there are other natural factors that can still make people to be displaced.

4- What is the impact of access to land on food security?

Land is essential for farming and food production and food security. Food production reduces food insecurity and land being the source of farming practices, its impact on food security cannot be overemphasized. Beyond access to land, it is important for such access to be secured and that is why the recognition and protection of customary land ownership is very important

5- Do you have any other thing to add?

Thanks for asking the questions you have asked. The only thing I can add is that 80% of the world’s poor live in rural areas, where people depend on the land and agriculture, fisheries, or forestry is their main source of income and food. Generally, there is enough food production on the planet yet, 690 million people are food insecure and 800 million people are malnourished. But the COVID-19 restrictive measures have particularly impacted the food security of poor urban households. We can say that 2020 is a year when everything changed due to COVID-19 and it is a threat to food security around the world. This situation has contributed in undermining the capacity of people to obtain nutritious food for their needs. Therefore it is urgent to continue to reflect and devise ways and means to make our food systems resilient to such crisis. Cameroon too is not spared as COVID-19 and the ongoing conflicts in the Anglophone and extreme north regions I exerting a lot of pressure on the food systems. Resolving these conflicts is key to sustaining livelihoods. 

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