Learn more about specific causes in Cameroon that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentLeading environmental issues in Cameroon include deforestation and overgrazing — resulting in erosion, desertification, and reduced quality of pastureland — as well as poaching, overfishing and overhunting.1 The nation is party to environmental agreements on biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, hazardous wastes and whaling.2 Cameroon houses the tallest mountain in western Sub-Saharan Africa, Mount Cameroon, an active volcano that last erupted in 2000, also the most active volcano in that region.3
FamilyThe majority of families in Cameroon make their living through agriculture, raising cattle and growing a number of staple food crops.1 There are both monogamous and polygamous marriages practiced in Cameroon.2 The infant mortality rate in Cameroon is high, at 51 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is extremely high, at 569 deaths per 100,000 lives births.3 The fertility rate is also high, with 4.64 children being born for every woman.4
Human RightsSeparatist forces have set fire to 58 schools in Anglophone regions of Cameroon since 2016, and have threatened to destroy more if schools continue to refuse the separatists’ orders to close.1 Violence is not limited to the separatists, government forces have also been known to abuse members of the Anglophone regions.2 The terrorist group Boko Haram is active in Cameroon, conducting approximately 120 attacks between summer of 2016 and 2017 alone.3 These attacks included suicide bombings, executions, abductions and recruitment of child soldiers.4 Over half of the population lacks access to modern sanitation facilities, and nearly a quarter of the population does not have access to a clean or improved drinking water source.5
EducationEducation in Cameroon is compulsory until age 14 after six years are spent in the primary level. However, parents must pay for their child’s books and uniform, creating a disparity between the literacy rates of men and women.1 81.2 percent of men are literate, and 68.9 percent of women are literate.2 The average child is in school for a span of 12 years.3 Secondary education is divided into two systems, one modeled after the British system, the other modeled after the French. At the tertiary level, seven universities are taught in French — one is taught in English.3
Poverty30 percent of the Cameroonian population currently lives below the national poverty line, and poverty is particularly on the rise in rural regions that lack infrastructure; the GDP per capita is just $3,7001 Additionally, over half of the population lacks access to modern sanitation facilities, and nearly a quarter of the population does not have access to a clean or improved drinking water source.2 14.8 percent of Cameroonian children under the age of five are underweight, and the infant mortality rate is 51 deaths per 1,000 live births.3
Religion38.4 percent of the population identifies with the Roman Catholic faith, 26.3 percent identify as Protestant, 4.5 percent identify as Christian, 20.9 as Muslim, 5.6 as animist, 1 percent identify as another religion and 3.2 don’t identify with a belief.1 The terrorist group Boko Haram has persecuted and executed a number of Muslims and Christians, and destroyed the property of several religious institutions across Cameroon.2
Clean Water24.4 percent of the population in Cameroon lacks access to clean drinking water, and 54.2 percent of the population lacks access to modern sanitation facilities.1 The risk of contracting waterborne diseases is high, particularly with bacterial and protozoal diarrhea and schistosomiasis.2
EconomyCameroon’s economy is diverse, and market-based, and is centered around timber, oil, gas, agriculture and mining, with a GDP of $88.86 billion. The leading agricultural products include coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas and cassava.1 40 percent of exports made in Cameroon are accounted for by oil. Despite this, Cameroon suffers from a low, static GDP per capita of just $3,700, and largely disparate distribution of income. The government subsidizes electricity, food and fuel. A large portion of national resources are directed toward large infrastructural renovations.2
GovernmentCameroon is a presidential republic with both a president and prime minister. President Biya has been in power since 1982,1 and abolished presidential term limits in 2008.2 Transparency International gives Cameroon a low score of 25 on a scale of 100, reflecting low public trust in the government’s ability to curb corruption.3 Legal concerns often take years to settle.4 The northern region of Cameroon has been heavily affected by the violence of Boko Haram militants, particularly along the border with Nigeria.5
Health14.8 percent of Cameroonian children under the age of five are underweight, and the risk of contracting a major infectious disease is high. Those diseases include typhoid, dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria, hepatitis A, meningococcal meningitis, rabies and schistosomiasis.1 In 2018, Cameroon faced epidemics of cholera and monkeypox.2 Cameroon has an extremely high maternal mortality rate, at 569 deaths per 100,000 live births, and just 4.1 percent of the GDP is dedicated to health expenditures.3 Over half of the population lacks access to modern sanitation facilities, and nearly a quarter of the population does not have access to a clean or improved drinking water source.4 The average life expectancy is just 59 years.5
ChildrenThe eastern region of Cameroon received over 200 women and children from the Central African Republic in 2018. All were refugees fleeing from the conflict between the UN forces and the Central African Armed Forces, placing pressure on the regions hosting the asylum-seekers.1 Over 60 percent of the population in Cameroon is under the age of 25, yet the national life expectancy is just 59, as the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is high. 510,000 people in Cameroon live with HIV/AIDS, and the death toll as a result of HIV/AIDS in 2017 alone was 24,000. Cameroon has the ninth highest death rate due to HIV/AIDS in the world.2 In addition, 14.8 percent of children under the age of 5 in Cameroon are underweight.3
AnimalsWith a wide array of geographical and ecological scapes, Cameroon is often called “Africa in miniature.” The nation is home to the Cross River gorilla, black colobus, mustached monkey, black rhinoceros, Rumpi mouse shrew, humpback whale, forest warbler, African elephant, cheetah and West African manatee.1 Cameroon is said to be the fifth most biodiverse country on the continent of Africa, hosting over 320 different mammals, 1,000 species of butterflies and over 8,000 species of plants.2
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