The Lake Chad Basin Crisis

Just 40 miles east of the Nigerian border lies Minawao camp – a dusty, sprawling refugee camp in the extreme north of Cameroon.

It is officially home to around 75,000 refugees, but families in the camps say that the number is much higher. Families have come here from Nigeria after escaping Boko Haram.

They might have escaped the attacks, but their loved ones have been killed, their homes have been torched and their livelihoods lost.

We have been working in Minawao camp since 2015. Tents and other items like solar lights, ground sheets, mosquito nets and hygiene kits, allow families to start paving the road to recovery.

We have also provided shelter to families outside of the camp, who have been forced from their homes due to Boko Haram violence, climatic changes or economic pressures.

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Where is Cameroon?

How is ShelterBox helping? 

Read stories from Cameroon


Where is Cameroon?

Cameroon shares borders with six countries. It is bordered by Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo.  

Minawao Camp lies in the extreme north of Cameroon, close to the Nigerian border.

Cameroon is an incredibly diverse place, with over 200 different languages and one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. But when Boko Haram led an insurgency in Nigeria in 2009, Cameroon was affected as violence and displacement spread across the border.

Today the crisis has become more complex, with extreme poverty, underdevelopment and climate change adding to the violence that has forced millions of people from their homes. Millions are in extreme hardship and dependent on humanitarian aid to survive.

Map showing Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger and Chad

How is ShelterBox helping?

We’ve supported over 100,000 people in Cameroon so far. 

Working with our new partner, Public Concern, we are providing a range of emergency shelters and durable shelters.

Newly displaced people, both within Minawao Camp and outside the camp, will be supported with emergency tents and emergency shelters. We’ll also be providing household items like mosquito nets, sleeping mats, soap and kitchen sets.

People who have been displaced for longer need different support as they look to reconstruct their shelters into more durable structures.

To support them with this, we will be providing Shelter Packages with a range of construction materials including tarpaulin, wood, nails and cement.

We’ll also be supplying Community Tool Kits which include reusable items like hammers, nail pulls and brick molds. These will be shared between households.

These items can improve both the physical and emotional wellbeing of these families who have already been through so much.

Watch an update from our work in Minawao Camp below:

Your support can help us reach many more people in Cameroon and around the world who urgently need emergency shelter.

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Stories of hope

Every day we meet incredible people and hear their inspiring stories. Read stories of hope, recovery and strength from Cameroon below.

Catherine's story

Woman signing papers on a ShelterBox with family in Cameroon

‘My husband and I were at home entertaining the children, when suddenly we heard gunshots and people started running everywhere. My husband told us to go with a neighbour, then people started quickly leaving the village, especially the women and children, but I could not see him.

‘I was afraid, and the children did not stop crying as we ran. I just followed the others without knowing where we were going. 

‘That was the last time I saw my husband.

‘My home makes me feel something that I cannot explain. In my shelter I can recover in my own privacy, and I have the feeling of security for all of us. My children also recovered some peace and freedom. They can play and sleep well whenever they want.’ 

Modu's story

25-year-old Modu is originally from Nigeria. She now lives with her four children in Minawao Camp.

When Boko Haram destroyed her village, Modu fled with her neighbours. In the chaos, she lost her husband and hasn’t seen him since. She still lives in the hope that she will one day see him again.

Weeks after fleeing their home, Modu and her children eventually made it to Minawo Camp. Their first days inside the collective centre were not easy – Modu couldn’t sleep at night and they were living in incredibly overcrowded conditions.

Modu received a ShelterBox tent, as well as a kitchen set, mosquito nets and other essential items.

‘Life has become so much better. I still miss my husband, but I feel highly relieved. We finally have some privacy in our own home.’

Woman sits on floor of ShelterBox tent surrounded by children

More from the Lake Chad Basin


Niger was facing five major crises when we worked there. Find out how we responded.


The conflict in Nigeria started in 2009. Find out how we helped families to recover.


Half a million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Chad. See how we helped.