Bwassa village studies report
Bwassa is located at the foot of mount Cameroon and is about 5km away from Buea passing through Bokwango and Nagaha villages. It has a maritime and equatorial climate with an average annual temperature of 26oC, and average annual rainfall of up to 10,000mm at the foot of the mountain towards Debuncha, which is the second wettest place in the world (MIAVITA, 2011; Toteu et al., 2010). Located in a mountainous area and made up of hills and valeys it has two major seasons, the rainy season that begins in March to September and the dry season that runs from October to February. The village has a distinct biophysical environment surrounded by an evergreen tropical ecosystem with high variety of biodiversity including rare species of plants (including medicinal plants) and some animals which are found at the foot of the mountain.
It has a population of about 900 inhabitants with an average household of about 8 to 9 persons living in a house. The indigenes of this village originated from Mbomboko, a village located behind Mount Fako. It was as a result of the search of greener pasture for their flocks that these hunters found this particular region interesting and named it Bwassa meaning ‘’ Grass eaters’’. There are 6 traditional families that make up the community and the entire village is divided into three quarters Eversewoka, Moli and Mototyi. The present Chief Ewome Eko is the fifth Chief that has ruled the village and he is assisted by a regent Mola Lyonge Teke in his absence.
Also, the village has a rich cultural heritage and they often organize special events such as the annual cultural festivals and activities which include:
The Nganya dance which is consider as a sacred dance.
- The Malé dance also known as the elephant dance which is organized annually during the dry season and other villages are invited to participate it is also considered as a sacred dance.
- The Bakweri war dance, organize during traditional war amongst villages also known as the ‘motiyo’ here a goat is being put in the circle and the village that cuts the goat once wins the war. This help to show the braveness of one village over another and which village can stand the invasion of an enemy.
- Chacha and choral dance groups which perform in any event in the village be it enthronement of the chief or any special occasion I the village.
The main economic activity of this village is agriculture which involves the cultivation crops, bee keeping, pigs, goats, fowls which helps generate income. They cultivate crops such as plantains, bananas, vegetable, pepper, cocoyams and tomatoes for local consumption while the surplus is sold in neighboring towns like Limbe and Buea. Besides agriculture, some villagers operate small provision stores and bars, hunting and tapping which the young boys engage themselves in bike riding which also serves as the main means of transport.
The village has only one government primary school and a government health center. The school lack teachers and the health center also have a problem of limited health personnel. The absence of social amenities has led to an increase in rural exodus which is hindering the development of the village.
The main objective of the village studies is to train participants in the practical skills of: identifying problems, collecting information, analyzing and making recommendations for solving problems of rural development.
This is achieved through an integrated, interdisciplinary team approach in the field. The team applies theoretical concepts to practical field situations and by using research methods based on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA).
Specifically, the students were expected;
- To develop a systematic plan to collect practical development oriented information in specific village/community, using participatory rural appraisal;
- Analyze the information and draw valid conclusions, with the active participation of the community, in order to identify key problems and potentials of development in the community;
- With the active participation of the community develop a realistic, practical and integrated action plan to solve the identified key problems;
- Write a clear and concise Village Study Reports, based on research findings;
- Work with members of the community to jointly present the major findings and suggested development plans to the community through a village seminar.
The study was carried out using a number of PRA tools such as; observations, group discussions (with men, women youths and the council of elders), semi structured interviews (SSI), village map, transect, historical timeline, visualization, seasonal calendar, and, SWOT analysis. Each method or tool was used to achieve a specific purpose.
After analyzing all the information from different sources, the following problems were identified by gender and sector:
- Poor access to market
- Lack of Farmers subsidies
- Bad roads
- Inadequate supply of portable water
- Irregular supply of electricity
- Lack of community hall
Through a village meeting, the problems were prioritized and the community identified poor access to market and lack of farmers’ subsidization as their core problem.
Poor access to market: The community depends mostly on agriculture for their daily income but with the absence of a market and poor access to the neighboring market, it makes it difficult for them to market their farm produce. This has led to an increase in post-harvest losses as most of the crops get bad in the house.
Lack of Farmers subsidization: with the absence of farmers’ subsidies, the farmers produce at a very high cost which makes it difficult for them to meet up and hence discouraging agricultural activities in the community.
A suggested development plan on the two core problems of the community was prepared with the PRA insiders and proposed to the community during a village seminar. The development plans was to guide them on how to create a market or access to the nearby market and also how to get agricultural subsidies from the Regional Delegation of Agriculture through the creation of a village cooperative.
Bwassa village is blessed with numerous potentials ranging from human to natural resources that could be exploited to push development in that area. They have a youthful population, dynamic middle-aged men and women and a very fertile land for agriculture and other natural resources. The study, also showed that the community has a problem of disunity which is a great hindrance to development. This was emphasized during the village seminar in which they promised to work together for the development of their community.
The studies revealed that Bwassa has a lot of potentials in which if exploited and properly manage, will go a long way to solve some of the development problems. Also, the studies revealed that the community lack a village development committee which could help boast development in the community.
Community leaders to come together to foster harmony among themselves because unity is strength.
PAID-WA administration should not relent only on the SDP, but should also as a matter of fact see into its implementation which is an essential aspect to rural development.