Written by Emilia Namme
Hi! This is Emilia Namme, LiveBuild Netherlands Project Coordinator in Cameroon. I mediate between project communities and project partners for LiveBuild to ensure progress in planned activities. My presence assures communities of LiveBuild’s unwavering commitment to the ongoing project and encourages the community members to give their maximum support as well as accepting ownership of the project. I do this by making several visits within the year to each project to keep abreast with the unforeseen as well as adaptations and adjustments to project plan to limit divergence expected impact. I also have an open communication to every member of the community from where I get updated feedback from all stakeholders.
In the course of executing my functions, I have observed that LiveBuild has been bringing women in the active role in their community’s development. At the same time, the rural woman is noted to be a backbencher when it comes to making decisions that would affect the community. Bringing the woman on to the limelight of decision making in a male dominated arena, has been one of my commitments to ensure LiveBuild’s philosophy of at least a third representation of women in the decision arm of their association which we work with, such as in the water committees.
A case in point was my first visit to BAFCOOP Board meeting where women were virtually absent. I intervened on behalf of women to be a significant part of the Board. My proposal for adequate female representation was with immediate effect and turned into a resolution, voted positively upon and adopted.
Every now and then families move and sometimes this affects members of the association. One of our guide to communities is that replacing an outgone woman must be with a woman as well. This is evident in Kasema, Manganjo, Lobange and TIFAD Water Association. That is LiveBuild in action.
I do face challenges during my field work, from women who want to see their lives change for the better. Though the women are very appreciative to LiveBuild, for the inputs into their community they seem to think of LiveBuild as the organization with a magic wand to solve all their problems. They do ask for things which are not in LiveBuild’s area of interest. For example: since their activity is mainly farming, they ask for assistance for farming tools and equipment with the hope of being able to increase their yields and earn a little more income.
In listening to them, one thing stands out: that their dormancy in community affairs is in large part a result of low financial power compared to men. That in spite of their long hours in the farms, the women at harvest always come home short of men, something which is culturally accepted. A little push – they say – can make a difference with regard to their empowerment.
With the above, is LiveBuild meeting its project objectives? I will say confidently “yes, they do”.
An adult female beneficiary of Kasema water system who is about 50 years of age and is a mother of 6, expresses her joy with the coming of pipe borne water to Kake II. She says, “Now we use clean water to wash fruits before eating, wash vegetables properly before preparing food. Now we wash ourselves with clean water, and most importantly: we have abundance of drinking water just a stone throw from our house throughout the day. I don’t think there is anything more to ask for”. In Kasema and in any other water project community, these are LiveBuild’s objectives.
It is clear that LiveBuild cannot provide for all the needs of the communities we are involved in. But the objectives set forth will be met and appreciated greatly, particularly by women who view a change in their environment from LiveBuild’s actions.
In this blog you can read more about me and how I got connected to LiveBuild.