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An ergonomic approach to the study and improvement of working conditions in traditional rural agriculture. Case-study in a region of Southern Cameroon

Roger TJEKA student laureate


°1963 Cameroon
M.D., Université de Liège, Belgium Diplôme d'Etudes Spécialisées in health at work, option : ergonomics, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2000

Application de la démarche ergonomique à l'étude et à l'aménagement des conditions de travail dans l'agriculture rurale traditionnelle. Etude de cas dans une région du Sud du Cameroun

Working conditions in traditional rural agriculture, in Subsahara Africa as well as in many other developing countries, are very unfavourable because of a lack of mechanisation : use of rudimentary craft tools, manual labour, uncomfortable postures entailing a risk of disorders at the level of muscles and skeleton.
With a good knowledge of the appropriate scientific methods, Roger Tjeka describes and analyses farmers' tasks in rural Africa, in order to appreciate their total physical workload. This load - which, on average, can be considered heavy - depends not only on the different postures, determined by working techniques and tools used, but also on climatic circumstances. The author also recognizes the influence the local socio-cultural context has on the question of working postures of women and men in the traditional agriculture of rural Africa. From his understanding of the peasants he studied, Roger Tjeka was able to judge which conclusions and measures are feasible for translation into practice.
Via the use of arguments from ergonomics, the intention of this work is to contribute to making the local population more aware of the safety and health problems at work. Roger Tjeka intends to incite and facilitate a systematic tracking of risk factors and suggests ways to improve the general working conditions (a.o. a simple method to adjust bad postures). Above all, the author has succeeded in showing that in rural Africa - maybe even more than in the developed countries - ergonomics are essential for improving people's well-being by limiting health risks and by increasing efficiency and productivity.

report based on comments by Prof. Dr. Arthur Spaepen, Department of Kinesiology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven & by Dr. Bart Criel, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium