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A New Flock Adds to Cameroon’s Woes

Authorities in Cameroon say millions of weaver birds have decimated thousands of hectares of farmland on the northern border with Chad and Nigeria. Farmers say between the birds, elephant attacks and floods, the area is on the verge of famine. In an effort to scare away the birds, youths assemble in millet farms everyday to beat drums, dishes and pots, says 23-year-old farmer Illiasu Issa. He says schoolchildren are only allowed to return to class when the birds leave. Issa says everyone must pitch in to scare away the small, dark weaver Ibrahim Mohamed, the mayor of Waza, says his council cannot afford to hire aircraft that experts have told him are needed to chase away the giant flocks of birds. He says all he can do is provide a meal each day for the hundreds of youths struggling to save their farms. Millet is the main source of livelihood for the close to 50,000 people of Waza district. Mohamed says farmers export the millet to Chad, Nigeria and southern Cameroon industrial towns like Douala and Yaounde. birds that have already destroyed at least 600 hectares of farmland in and around Waza. Waza villagers say after the last weaver bird attack 32 years ago, the government sent food aid which was largely insufficient for their needs. They were also given fertilizers and seeds to plant new crops, but they remained poor until the next millet harvesting season.