Recently CREE and its newest Project Assistant Tata Yengo began work in Cameroon implementing our snail farming project. In brief, this project has a goal of reducing pressure on wild snail harvest in the National Park through community-based domestic snail farming and related educational activities. This in turn will reduce onerous harvest of snails in the forest at night by women and children. We see this twinned goal of village nutrition and community conservation as a first real step in reducing conflicts between the communities surrounding Mount Cameroon National Park and the park’s wildlife.
CREE finished an exhaustive feasibility study of this area before beginning work here, as we see this as a necessary first step to evaluate our approach critically before going in. In the past month, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was designed between CREE, FOREP and select families to be involved. This document clearly detailed all participant’s responsibilities.
During our introductory work sessions on snail farming, topics covered with the community included: types of snail farming techniques available, steps in executing a snail farming micro-enterprise project, materials best suited for local snail farming, why snail farming should be done in a conservation context, snail farm management and record keeping. Snail pens and hatcheries were then co-constructed with selected families.
The number of families was decided to be no more than seven. This was due to funds and our desire to thoroughly work with a subset of the population, with the goal of establishing leaders within the community. These families were provided with snail pens, hatcheries and an initial stock of 270 snails. CREE’s first sustainable livelihoods project in Cameroon is starting off a success. As with any community work, we will continually evaluate challenges and community attitudes, keeping in mind that this work demands patience and open dialogue.