Globally in the year 2020, the world struggled with climate change and outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which affected everyone, everywhere and there was a worldwide call for lockdown. In the midst of these global challenges, The African Youth Alliance (AYA) a 100% female led and volunteer-run community-based organization, had secured a 2-years project implementation to assist and support more than 200 women and girls in the North West Region of Cameroon to develop and improve on their lives through skills building and acquiring of knowledge. The implementation of the first year which started in January 2020 and ended in December 2020 was on the different thematic areas:
- Peace and Security: In response to the challenges faced by women in conflict areas and communities, AYA build the skills of 57 rural women and empowered them become peace ambassadors in their community. Through group meeting, experience sharing and open discussion sessions they were able to identify the challenges faced by them and at the end they could also provide suitable remedies to cope with the difficulties. From all the stories shared which had peculiar similarities, they gained knowledge on how to build their resilience in the midst of the crisis for them to act as mediators for peace and fight GVB in their respective communities.
- Maternal and reproductive health: With the assistance of a community nurse, health talks were carried out in two groups with membership of 68 rural women and girls. They were educated on SRHR, MHM, Family planning and general hygiene best practices. The lessons learnt from all sessions enable them to be able to select suitable family planning methods, make informed choices on their health as well as increase their understanding on STIs and HIV/AIDS and its preventive measures. They were also provided with reusable sanitary pads to improve on their personal hygiene and also help in the proper management of their menstrual periods.
- Access to food and water: To increase the agricultural productivity of rural 56 women, AYA supported and trained them on new farming technics with the help of an agricultural technician. They were support with farming seedlings of cabbage, carrot, bean, cocoyams and corn as well as farming inputs like sprayers, hoes, rain boots and cutlasses. Practical trainings on nursery, manure/bed formation, compost heap production, construction of propagator and marcotting was completed with group members to ensure a good farming season through high yields productivity and also serves as a means to mitigate climate change.
- Education: Through peer mentoring and interactive discussions sharing, the self-confidence and self-esteem of 25 rural girls was built on female leadership, goal setting and rights of the girl child. They were drilled on the importance of setting life objective in order for them to informed choices. Educative sessions on best practices on MHM, early marriages and teenage pregnancies complications was also held to improve on their personal hygiene while they were urge to refrain from early marriages and coach on the disadvantages of teenage pregnancies which were big setback for their growth both mentally, physically, emotionally, and their self-worth.
- Economic empowerment: With the creation of safe spaces for women and girls to meet and gain empowering skills/knowledge, AYA was able to improve the economic growth of 17 rural women and girls through financial and technical support. Production trainings on body lotion, powder soap and medicated soap was carried out and the final products sold to out to group member and community members for income generation. A loan of 150,000 FCFA was handed over to the group at a lowest interest rate and they were also taught basic accounting principles, market strategy, branding of their products, price range as well as advertising their products to enable them understand effective finance management to facilitate the operation of the cooperative activities for sustainability