Consequences of Stress on Children’s Development

A friend in the name  of Mbong Alice experienced a natural disaster. This natural disaster involved the seismic explosion of methane gas of lake Nyos  in August 21st 1986. This is a cradle lake in the North West region of Cameroon.Alice experienced this gas explosion and this has been a source of concern to her and for many living around it still remember the seismic eruption of the lake which led to many people and animals being burnt to death by the hot lavae forced out by the erupting lake.   Recalling the event, when she woke up that morning, she was having difficulties breathing. She went to her brother’s room saw him sleeping but she did not know he was death. Later, she realized that there was massive  death of people and animals. There was fear, panic, surviving people were evacuated to the hospital including her and later resettle temporarily to a nearby village. Before being evacuated to the hospital, they were given red palm oil as first aid against the inhaled poisonous gas.  There was general support  from the various churches, communities and the government in terms of money and material items.  A seismograph have also been installed in the lake to help notify and indicate a possible gas explosion in the future.

The country i have chosen is Cameroon. The common stressors that impact the development of children

in Cameroon are poverty and disease.

Poverty in Cameroon is experienced in different fields and areas that relates to child growth and development characterized by poor nutrition and malnutrition, poor health and poor road infrastructure among others. recent survey shows that there is no region in Cameroon that is untouched by poverty, the North west being one of the most affected with inadequate road infrastructure. According to the International fund for Agricultural development (IFAD), poverty in the region has worsened in the past 10 years and several studies and surveys shows that children and women are the most hard-hit. Energy poverty is also identify in Cameroon as approximately 90% of the rural population and 74% of the total population lack access to electricity which is the main source of energy. Kerosene is the most common form of fuel based lighting in the country but it is expensive and endangers the environment, health and safety of children and families.  The poverty level in Cameroon can negatively affect brain development in early childhood as a result of lack of proper nutrition and quality care and can also increase depression, substance abuse and social isolation  in parents. There is also high risk of child abuse and neglect within poor families in Cameroon and abuse is seen to have  affected children’s abilities to establish healthy attachments and can led to depression, anxiety propensity for violence. More over, poor families in Cameroon lives in over crowded, polluted, high crime,  and shanty areas, the case of mokolo and Melang in Yaounde  as such have failed to afford proper child care. Worse of all, poverty in Cameroon has contributed to sickness, and increase child mortality rate. also, most children do not have access to the media be it television or radio not to mention the internet and thus do not benefit from the numerous educative media programs that can influence their growth and development. To minimize the harm of poverty,the following measures are being taken:

– Attempts are made to modernize agriculture which is the main occupation of about 90% of the population with the subsidization of agricultural tools.

– Most roads linking urban towns and rural areas are under the process of reconstruction for example the Bamenda – Kumbo road.

– Light Africa is on the process to implement the use of firefly solar lamps to provide clean, efficient and reliable off grid lighting that is less expensive than kerosene to African consumers including Cameroon. Also most families have resorted to the use of generator machines for electricity supply.

The prevalence of disease is another stressor that impact the development of children in Cameroon. Example of such diseases include but not limited: water borne diseases like diarrhea and cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid,  yellow fever, mealses, minigititis, leukemia  and AIDS. According to UNICEF, about 5 out of every 200 children 0-59 months who contact diarrhea die from it. Many children die of diarrhea because of unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices. Leukemia is still a deathly disease in Yaounde as studies carried out in the Pediatric unit of the University teaching hospital center of Yaounde proved that 9 out of 11 children  of age 5years and below had lymphoblastic leukemia in Yaounde, capital of Cameroon. Also AIDS is another killer disease that is highly impacting the development of many children. Generally, it gets to a child from the mother either during pregnancy, labor or after birth via breast feeding. It can cause childhood illness and common opportunistic infections likepneumonia and tuberculosis.  These diseases can impact the development of children as children living with them especially AIDS often have a number of physical problems that can cause them to grow poorly.  There also negatively effect a child’s appetite and digestive system as a whole and such children always have trouble gaining or keeping weight. Cognitively, disease infested children perform negatively against peers and socially such children are delayed in their development especially children affected by AIDS.

The following measures have been taken to minimize the harm by disease in Cameroon:

1) Hand washing  with soap at key times has been implemented by UNICEF in Cameroon to all children, schools, families and communities and diarrhea have been reduced by 48%. Also as an innovative initiative for hand washing at schools, the ministry of Basic Education and the complexe Chimique Cameroon  (CCC) , a soap producing company has partnered with UNICEF to provide supplies in 300 schools across the country for the hand washing initiative.

2). Hygiene and sanitation is taught in schools as part of the national curriculum.

3). Vaccination campaigns and immunization of children as more than 80% of children 0 – 5 years are vaccinated each year against diseases like measles, typhoid, polio, hepatitis B, yellow fever with UNICEF support. Mosquitoes nets are also distributed to mosquitoes infested areas to prevent malaria.

4). Essential nutrition services are provided in priority health district where children’s malnutrition is a problem.

5). PLS  promotes the use of oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc and household water treatment by distributing point-of-use household water treatment products. The use of zinc and ORS was also recommended by WHO and UNICEF in 2004 as the best way to reduce diarrhea.

6). UNICEF also worked with the government to secure 120 million Euros from global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria with the aim to increase bed net coverage from 13% to over 80% by 2015.



1. United Nations  Children’s Fund and World Head Organization, WHO/UNICEF joint statement: Clinical management of acute diarrhea, UNICEF, New York, 2004.

2. Pediatric service, university teaching hospital center ( UTHC), Yaounde, Cameroon.


4. How does HIV Affect Children?/

5. The influence of the environment in early years of childhood.

6. Cameroon: Nascent solutions- Bui- Cameroon.





5 thoughts on “Consequences of Stress on Children’s Development

  1. That devastating event seems so unimaginable and hard to comprehend the full extent of for someone who has never had to worry about anything even remotely close to that. I just can’t fathom the toll that takes on a person’s physical, mental and emotional health. It reminds me of how lucky I was to grow up as I did without even an idea that such horror was possible. I must have lived a very sheltered life as a child, so naive and innocent. My heart goes out to anyone who has to live through such terror and atrocities.

  2. Natural disaster is something that many countries face. I would not want to see anyone being burnt alive, knowing that they are suffering, but we can not stop nature. It is just a part of life that we can not control. Even though it happened 1986 is your friend still having moments where they have flashbacks of the events that occured?

    • Thanks for your response. Offcourse yes she does. The 21st of August is det aside as a commemorable day for for the survivals of the disaster and there are also videos base on it.

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