The eighth day of our journey found us looking at Cameroon from two different perspectives: one with respect for their past, one with hope for an innovative future.

We started off by visiting the Bafut Palace, hoping to learn about the history of Cameroon. We were lucky enough to end up getting a priceless lesson in a country rich with tradition. For starters, there are over 200 tribes in the northwest region of Cameroon alone. The Fon, or king, of each tribe is sometimes held in even higher regard than the country’s president.

On our visit to the Bafut tribe, we were able to visit the oldest building in Central Africa, as well as watch traditional dances from the tribe’s men and women. One of the Fon’s 20 wives gave us a tour, and we were able to meet him and receive a personal welcome to the country.

In contrast to the rich traditions of Cameroon’s past, we also got a glimpse into its future thanks to one of Heifer International’s new initiatives in livestock: biogas systems. While it’s currently still in a pilot phase, with continued success the initiative could become easier to implement, as well as easier to support with donations to Heifer.

A simple biogas system in Cameroon has many benefits to the family, including the proper use of manure from animals, converting it into dried fertilizer for crops. The system also feeds a natural gas source in the family kitchen, eliminating the need to cut down wood for fires (deforestation) while also avoiding carbon monoxide gathering in the home.

The system is relatively simple, consisting of three parts. The first is a round concrete tub where the manure is placed (both animal and human), with a crank that can be turned to mix and move the manure through the system. The second part is an 8 cubic meter underground area, which lets the manure ferment and the gas rise to the top, fed into a pipe that goes into the kitchen. Excess gas then pushes the effluent out. The final part of the biogas system is an area where the sludge-like effluent can be harvested by the family so that it can be used as fertilizer.

From one of the oldest buildings to one of the newest technologies, our experiences in Cameroon have truly been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Stay tuned as our adventure continues for more stories from the Cameroon Hunger Project team.