An Analysis of Human Survival Strategies in Difficult Environments: A Case Study of the Kom Highlands in Cameroon

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Solange Akhere Gwan
Victor Konfor Ntoban
Jude N. Kimengsi


Mountainous regions and other difficult terrains, the world over, present significant challenges to communities as they strive to carry out their daily activities. In spite of these difficulties, strategies have been employed by communities to cope with such difficulties, yielding diverse outcomes. The extent and outcomes of survival strategies employed by communities, still beg for scientific and policy edification, in the context of the Western Highlands of Cameroon. This paper contributes to bridge the knowledge gap, by examining the survival strategies employed by locals in the Kom Highlands to confront the challenges presented by the harsh physical environment. 10 key informant interviews were conducted accompanied by a representative survey of 60 farming household heads, drawn from 5 villages in Fundong. The data were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistical tools, including the Chi-square analysis. The results reveal that Kom displays a plethora of harsh physical environmental characteristics, prominent among them are the hilly and difficult terrain, the poor soil quality and the generally cold weather conditions witnessed here. Faced with these challenges, the population employed a number of survival strategies in the agricultural sector, housing and transport. These strategies are unfortunately inadequate and such inadequacy is accounted for by their low level of technology, poverty, ignorance and other cultural factors, among others. The study therefore recommends the need to improve and modernize agriculture through the provision of fertilizers at subsidized rates to the farming population, the encouragement of effective slope stabilization and terracing and also for rigorous government intervention in terms of road and fly over constructions.

Difficult environments, farmers, livelihood, Kom, survival

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How to Cite
Gwan, S., Ntoban, V., & Kimengsi, J. (2019). An Analysis of Human Survival Strategies in Difficult Environments: A Case Study of the Kom Highlands in Cameroon. Journal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International, 22(2), 1-13.
Original Research Article


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