Saturday, 21 November 2015

Charity or Business: Funding for water aid projects in Cameroon should be strictly based on a business model

At the heart of modernity, on the hilly slopes of Njinikom Subdivision, lies a small village of 1,700 people called Asuchu. The place is situated some 54 kilometres from Bamenda town, near the Njinikom national highway, Boyo Division, North West Region, Cameroon. On travelling to this village, you might be fooled by the graded roads, cabling, good houses, and the numerous signs of development projects.
This uninhibited well water system is found in Babessi subdivision, North West region of Cameroon, where more than 90% of the existing community water supply schemes do not have maintenance equipment and trained technicians to carter for the tanks and standpipes.


But that is not the case with Asuchu, one of the 14 villages that make up the Njinikom Sub Division. The village lacks clean water and electricity. Water is the biggest challenge these days as 11 water-borne disease cases were recorded at the state hospital, the Njinikom Health Centre, for the first five days of the month of August. The Chief of Centre, Olivia Kisseh said the situation is becoming recurrent and disturbing, because this is the first time she has seen this level in over the last three to five months.

For several years Judith Yung, 46 years old, and the other 1,699 inhabitants of Asuchu, have been suffering with the problem of potable water, despite the fact that the community have benefited from a government and two NGO water aid projects in their area. “The water that comes out from the tap systems here is dirty because the catchment was poorly built, water runoffs from the rain easily get into the catchment and so we get dirty water here. Our real needs for development are electricity and water.” Judith cries.

In the past three years, the government of Cameroon, with loans from the African Development Fund (ADF) of the African Development Bank (ADB) of about 12.5 billion Francs CFA, has been supporting rural development in a project called Support Project for Rural Infrastructures and Participatory Development (GRASSFIELD II) in the North West Region. Under the framework of this project, the Asuchu water problem was addressed with a water catchment for many communities and pipe connections into the village.

At the same time, the Swiss Government gave material donations worth thousands of dollars through a middle-man (who people refuse to name openly because of fear for their own security) to the community to build a water tank. “When the middle-man who was working with the white men from the Swiss Government, came here to supply the materials, he asked us to pay a huge sum of money, which we did.” Madame Flora, Municipal Councillor for Asuchu, revealed. Money set aside as a community contribution for the project was therefore given to the middle-man. This led to the poor installation of the water tank and some taps in the area. At present, the source is getting drier and the community’s grief is welling up.

However, the community had sensed the danger of the drying source at the catchment, partly donated by the Swiss Government, and consequently built another catchment with a new source worth about 200,000 Francs CF (US $400). But because of poor construction and lack of good maintenance, the water that flows down the pipes is most often worse than the springs and streams where people have traditionally collected water.

In Asuchu, just like almost everywhere in the North West Region, “most of the existing potable water installations have poor sanitation conditions,” said Mbanga Lawrence Akei, researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of Bamenda in his recent publication titled: Regional Institutions in Rural Council Area Development in the North West Region, Cameroon at the Journal of Sustainable Development; Vol. 8, No. 1; 2015, earlier this year.

“More than 90% of the existing community water supply schemes do not have maintenance equipment and trained technicians to maintain the tanks and standpipes.” Mr Lawrence added.

Currently, the Asuchu community development association is looking for other NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), governments or personal and institutional donors that can help them to repair their broken water systems or construct a new one.

Are the failures due to lack of will? Or are they because the aid projects were not based on a sound business model?

In the meantime, the Swiss government has agreed to invest a total of US$150,318 on projects in Cameroon. The UN OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) financial tracking reports on aid and development project in Cameroon as of July 11, 2015 says the US is the highest donor in Cameroon with total funding of US$50m, in second place is Japan with US$17m followed by the European Union at US$16m.

The success of this very significant level of funding will depend on whether it has a sound business model and not a charity model. However, Ryan Yoder, the Executive Director of ACTIVE SPACES, tech hub, argues that aid projects must have a sound business model in order to succeed.

Ryan is very clear. “The most important part is that the person who is investing his money is able to get a return on his investment. Impact investors have realized that if you are looking for a completely social outcome and there is not a real business outcome behind, it is not going to be sustainable. Yeah, we want to have impact, we want to make some change happen, but if it isn’t able to sustain itself, then the impact is not going to be there for long.”

Friday, 25 September 2015

Illegal logging mares the livelihoods of Cameroon’s pioneer indigenous people

The Baka’s were the earliest inhabitants of Cameroon. They live in the Congo rainforest but increasingly, their homes are invaded by logging companies in search for less controlled areas to illegally harvest wood

Paabo Odette, 14, junior sister, Denge and clan members endure the effects of logging as they migrate without stopping to get a better shelter and hunting grown in the rainforest. 

Ropes tied on imposed sticks and thatched leaves are drenched with light mud particles as the light of the day shows up. The whole is developed into a tiny round house of 1.6M2. This is now the new home where Maka Daniel, 24 years old, his five weeks daughter and wife Paabo Odette, 14 years old, will live as from this day, Sunday, 23 August, 2015. 

“It took me seven days to build this our new home and two others for my grandparents.” Said Odette. She and her family have been migrating since she was three and since she got married at the age of nine, she has changed more than ten homes in search of a new shelter after their household is been invaded by a logging company with felling authorization from the government. About 105 timber companies exists in Cameroon. They export wood mostly to France, China and Lebanon. Their exploitation activities cause a lot of problems to the Bakas(Pigmies) living in the villages of Ngatou and Massea, on the high way that leads to Congro Brazzaville, some 750KM from Yaoundé in the Yokaduma sub-division of the Boumba and Ngoko Division of the East region of Cameroon.

“They come with their big engines, destroy the forest and chase all the animals away. That is why we are constantly migrating. Some even cut trees on the nose of our houses. So we have to move.” Daniel laments. 

Consequently, “we find it difficult to hunt or harvest forest products. Even hunting now is done with a lot of precaution. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) warn us not to take any kind of animal from the forest. Our children are hungry.” Said Njeng Tama, leader of the Baka community in Massea.  For the Bakas and other forest communities, the forest represents everything to them. Food, agriculture, tradition and other rights are been performed in the forest. 
Because of strict regulation and surveillance in forest exploitation areas, loggers have changed strategy to illegally take wood out of the forest. They go right into the hinterlands cut prohibited species, saw into plank and mix with legal wood to transport to the city or better still traffic the illegal wood in cargo containers.

A report published in 2009 by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), tells us among the 105 industrial timber companies in Cameroon, 15 of them who harvest, process or/and export are illegal. Also, Cameroon suspended the extraction and processing licenses of some 72 industrial logging companies and has moved head on to punish some of the defaulters in 2013. But illegal logging is rapidly becoming popular, especially in small communities like this, where there is little surveillance. 

“We see a lot of logs pass here that does not respect the norms. Sometimes we keep them waiting for days sometimes we report them to the forces of law and order or call our administrative authorities”.  Said Raymond, a forestry technician on the road between Makak and Lomie. 
Raymond and colleague are heading to their office in Abong Bang after controlling more than 300 trucks leaving the forest with wood on this day, Saturday, 22 August, 2015.

However, Cameroon’s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF), Philip Ngole Ngwese continues to express the country’s commitment to fighting corruption and engaging local communities in forest management and exploitation of resources. 

In a joint declaration signed by the MINFOF boss and the European Union (EU) on the 10th of August, 2015, the government re-iterated their will to fight against illegal logging under the scheme of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement - “Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)” (APV FLEGT). Cameroon signed the FLEGT agreement with the EU in 2010 to help curb illegal logging and fight deforestation.

Although recent reports from Google and the University of Maryland tells us there is a decline in global forest loss (18.7 million hectares) of 9% compared to 2013 and 20% paralleled to 2012, NGOs participating at the 14th edition of the World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, say Congo basin countries must fortify their efforts to fight illegal logging but equally called on their partners (Europe, Asia and America) to take solemn actions against this act which brings distressing effects to the nations.

To Michael O’Brien Onyeka, Greenpeace Africa Executive Director, “the international trade in illegal wood from the Congo Basin can only be tackled effectively if Europe and the USA as well as China work together with the Congo Basin countries to effectively tackle the root causes.”

Boko Haram and Cameroon security forces found guilty by Amnesty International’s recent report

In a new report launched by Amnesty International today in Yaoundé condemns human rights violations committed by the parties involved in the Boko Haram war in Cameroon.


Yaoundé -Today September 16, 2015, Amnesty International published a report, “Human rights under fire: attacks and violations in Cameroon's struggle with Boko Haram” revealing how the Boko Haram attacks has encouraged more violence in northern Cameroon.
According to the report, Boko Haram militants has murdered 400 civilians in northern Cameroon while the Cameroon military’s hefty counter attacks and unfriendly prison conditions let to the suffering and death of dozens more.
Alioune Tine, Amnesty International director for West and Central Africa, speaking at the conference center of Hotel La Falaise in Yaoundé. Credit: Amnesty International


Untold suffering

The report, which was built on three international missions in northern Cameroon and interviews with more than 160 people, said “Boko Haram has killed at least 380 civilians since January 2014. Since mid-2014, Boko Haram fighters have attacked scores of towns and villages in the far north region of Cameroon, killing and kidnapping civilians, burning down hundreds of houses and looting livestock and other property. In a raid on 15 October 2014, Boko Haram fighters shot or slit the throats of at least 30 people in the border town of Amchide. One eyewitness told Amnesty International: "I saw Boko Haram fighters brutally cutting the throats of at least two of my neighbours.”

Mero Zubairo is a 30 years old woman who lost her junior brother in 2014 in the Boko Haram attacks. After the Amnesty International report, FairPlanet discussed with Mero about what happened. According to family reports, Imrana Zubairou, her brother was a hard working lorry driver who transported goods from Cameroon to Chad. He died a tragic death alongside 13 of his colleagues on the same day in the Cameroon -Chad borders, some 50 kilometers away from Ndjamena.

 “I lost my junior brother; Imrana Zubairou on the 24th of July 2014. He was slaughtered by Boko Haram forces at the borders between Cameroon and Chad. His money (800 000FCFA) and parts of his goods were taken away. He was the sole bread maker of the house. He left us with his pregnant wife and two children. Our family has been suffering since he was killed.” Mero Zubairo cries.

Thieving Soldiers

However, the report also denounces the flaws of the Cameroon security forces.  The report says the Cameroon Army is guilty of remorseless killings, mass arrest, torture, unfair prison conditions, among others.  “In response Cameroonian security forces have raided villages, destroying homes, killing civilians and detaining over 1,000 suspects, some as young as five years old. Serious incidents have not been effectively investigated, including one where at least 25 people died in custody. More than 130 people remain missing.”

Alioune Tine, Amnesty International director for West and Central Africa present at the launch said. “At the same time, while providing much needed protection to civilians, the response by Cameroonian security forces has also been marred by serious violations. Cameroon’s security forces have killed civilians unlawfully or through excessive use of force. People have been arbitrary arrested, and many held in inhumane conditions which have led to dozens of deaths.”

However, last week, traders of Mokolo in the Mayo Tsanaga division staged a march to manifest their anger against the rife in robbery perpetrated by the military and dropped an accusation at the Division Officer  for Mayo Tsanaga’s office. Meanwhile, testimonies from traders who were raided by the military has let to the arrest of two soldiers, Corporals Manfo Steve and Mba Rodolph, working for the Army’s air unit.

And Alioune Tine is taken aback by the fact that the army which has as mission to protect civilians from Boko Haram also “committed atrocities themselves.”
Get the full report here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

COP 21 negotiators could inspire from an Eco-village project to reach climate justice

Joshua Konkankoh, Cameroonian farmer urges Paris aspirants’ to emulate his works in rural areas if they want to successfully implement short term goals and help poor people.

This picture was taken from the Bafut Eco-village, one in its kind in Cameroon. This project weaved traditional materials and methods plus modern knowledge to create an exemplary Eco friendly place. Credit: Mowah Sixtus Mbom.
Douala- It is now less than 90 days to Paris COP21, another decisive moment where world powers will meet to discuss how to save the world from future apocalypse, as we continue to experience hostile temperatures and rise in sea levels.

Long term goals, innovative technology, renewables, long term goals, short term goals, loss and damage, adaptation, intended nationally determined contribution (INDC), resilience etc. are some common terms the Paris aspirants are going to quite often use to negotiate the deals.

In the meantime, Cameroon and other Sub Saharan countries continue to show their commitment by giving up on some unfriendly climate practices in production such as slash and burn, consumption and management of earth’s limited resources and are now embracing what is more sustainable and renewable.

But the ways of man seems not to be the ways of nature, the clock is ticking very fast, so too is the earth becoming warmer and unbearable for people as 2015 is already considered as the hottest year on record by scientists of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA).

However, scientists of the World Health Organization (WHO) say one of the major ways that climate change directly affects man is that it speeds up heat related diseases: cardiovascular illnesses and respiratory problems. And statistics from Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health say more than 25 percent of Cameroonians aged 15 and above suffer from respiratory problems.

Cameroonian authorities are aware of the heavy threat that climate change poses. That is why after the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development in Cameroon, Pierre Hélé prepared Cameroon’s agenda for COP21 in July, the country joint Ministers of The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on 27 August, 2015, in an extraordinary meeting in Libreville, Gabon to prepare the Central African position for Paris.

In Libreville, the Ministers called for legally binding and universal agreement on climate change in Paris this year and furthermore discussed several issues amongst which: the INDCs, Loss and Damage, Climate Finance, Adaptation and mitigation etc.

But Joshua Konkankoh thinks Paris negotiators can only attain real climate justice if they adopt a purely natural approach but most importantly use short term goals to tackle the damaging effects on the most vulnerable communities.

Joshua is a Cameroonian farmer who for the past 10 years has been developing local sustainable agricultural strategies that use indigenous knowledge systems to sort food crises and life-threatening poverty in rural communities. He also runs a unique Permaculture eco-village in Bafut- Cameroon where he trains farmers, students and youths how to lead eco-friendly lives and how develop sustainable agriculture.

 Joshua will be joining the Technical Southern Africa Regional Workshop for Cities and Local Governments on the Durban Charter (DAC) organized under the auspices of ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) in Durban on 14-16 October to share his concept in the build up to Cop21.

 Joshua urges Paris aspiring negotiators to emulate his works in order speed up climate actions for disfavored groups and quotes his Eco-village project as an example of work where he has successfully implemented a five year goal to realize something sustainable.“They could consider our ecological building developed in the north-West region.”  Joshua illustrates.

 “Cameroon has plenty of local building materials and a rich tradition of using them. In our work we combine modern knowledge with traditional methods to create beautiful sustainable buildings.”Joshua adds.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Healthy soils could improve on food productivity in Cameroon.


Soils are very capital to farmers in Cameroon. 60% of Cameroon's active population depends on soils for employment and for their daily bread. But the population can't get food if the soils are degraded. Since most farmers in Cameroon use fertilizers and other chemicals to improve on their soil quality, it is therefore, necessary for farmers to learn about how to apply fertilizers on their soils.

Listen to this audio segment which talks about how to apply fertilizers on farms, but most importantly connected food productivity to impacts on farms.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

How prepared is Cameroon for Climate Change?



Bafoussam-Cameroon- For the past 7-8 years, farmers in Cameroon have been having hard times in knowing when the rains will begin or stop. As a result, they have to plant their farms several times from February up till April or May when the rains begin. 
 
Mr. Abiadng takes care of his farms every day from Monday to Saturday
Traditionally, 45 years old Abiadng Solomon, farmer in Bafoussam (cultivating market garden crops, cereals and tubers), wives and 13 children used to plant maize after the early rains of February. This year like in the preceding ones “women planted corn three times before seeing it appear.” Said Mr. Abiadng.

From February to May, Mr. Abiadng has counted six times that the rains have touched his 1.5 hectare farm. Instead of making him some good, “the six rains that has fallen brings flood to my farms. It fell heavily and damaged all my cabbages and tomatoes. I did not harvest anything.” He complained. 

This is not the first time he has seen his farm crops perish because of the changing climate. He pointed in 2011, his inputs were more than 300 000FCFA (457.35 EU) on onions, but output was zero because the rains went earlier than expected (in September-October).

Farmers like Mr. Abiadng and peasants in Cameroon continue to feel the impact of climate change. The rains are irregular and unpredictable and when it rains, floods come and damage their farms and crops.

Although reports from the World Bank say climate change risks are higher in poor countries, while other reports from the University of Notre Dame say Cameroon and other African nations are the least ready to fight climate change. 

Cameroon is conscious of the dangers. Besides agriculture is the backbone of her economy and the country needs to fortify her climate change efforts in order to preserve the sector, which employs 60% of the population and provide 45% of the GDP (2010 national statistics).

Through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the government of Cameroon actively sensitizes farmers in specialized schemes like the maize, cocoa and coffee programmes , where farmers are given incentives and up to date information about climate change. The government also provides information to farmers via the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) and the National Institute of Statistics.

To make sure climate and weather predictions are available for useful decision making, Cameroon has 15 meteorological surveillance centres. “We offer current meteorological information.  We can offer information about the climatic conditions for 1 year, 6 months or the present situation.” Said Mr. Mukete Mboye Simon, Commander of the Bafoussam Airlift (one of the surveillance centres).

Persuaded that improved weather prediction is strategic to agricultural and economic stability, Cameroon’s Minister of Transport, Robert Nkili joined Ministers in charge of Meteorology in the Central African Sub-region in Yaoundé on April 24, 2015, to announce the creation of a Central African Meteorological Hub.

Scientists in Cameroon are also involved in the fight, both on the field and at the media. In 2013, scientists at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) set up a radio programme on the CRTV called “Au rythme des saisons”, or “Following Changing seasons”. 

The monthly broadcast was out to “help both policymakers and local communities with information to help implement policies and projects for adaptation to climate change and reduction of carbon emissions in the forests” noted CIFOR.  Their recent report shows that they succeeded “an average increase of 22.3% on test scores in climate change and forest topics for an individual who listens once” to their programmes on radio.

However, since the international governmental response to climate change of the UNFCCC began with the Kyoto protocol, in 1992, Cameroon is one of the 196 nations involved in the climate change negotiations. In December 2014, the stake holders in Cameroon and other African negotiators pledged for zero net deforestation by 2020 in Lima.

Monday, 18 May 2015

NO TO HUNGER, FARMING YIELDS ARE ENCOURAGING!

Babessi, Cameroon-While  statistics from the World Food Programme(WFP) say 214 million people in sub-Saharan Africa suffered from hunger between 1990 and 2012, 17 year old, Kunde Raymond,  winner of Rural Eco-competition for secondary schools in Cameroon, thinks there should be no hunger.

The yieds from the farms this year are proving to be good,  three months before harvesting begins

Although climate change and floods have been affecting farmers in Cameroon in several different ways in recent times, current country statistics tell us the Agriculture sector still provides 42 percent of the country's GDP. Reason why Raymond is quite positive about food security. In his article about agriculture in Babessi, the teenager is optimist hunger should not have a place in his area because the yields have been good for the past few years. No to hunger, yes, because temperatures have fairly been constant (averaging between 26°C-30°C) and with heavy, regular rains.

Raymond explains why there should be no hunger, he writes

Should we be hungry?


Agriculture is the backbone of Cameroon’s economy. The case is not different in Babessi where about 80% of the population depends on agriculture.

The month of March which marks the start of the rainy season is a very serious month in Babessi. People start preparing their farms by clearing, burning and tilling. This begins from December, right up to the month of March. This is because cultivation is mostly subsistence.

Immediately as it rains, in March, the people start planting at once, beginning with maize, followed by beans, and then groundnuts for those who wish.

After about five months that is; in August, harvesting begins, after weeding about two times in the previous months.

For the past years, the yields have been very encouraging. This is due to some factors such as, Babessi is found in a moist swampy area good for land cultivation of rice, maize and cocoyam. Also, the village is situated at the base of the Banso (Bui Division) hill, which makes it conducive for groundnut and yams. Equally, eroded rocky materials from hills make the plane a perfect land to farm.

 Kunde Raymond is a Form 5 student at Government Bilingual High school, Babessi.

WATER, SANITATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT: A COMPETITION FOR YOUTH & CHILDREN

Tunza Eco Generation Ambassador to Cameroon, Israel Bionyi Nyoh, organised a two day environmental awareness raising campaign in Babessi.
Mr Kum Christian hands over first prize to journalism club leader of GBHS Babessi

Monday the 11th of May 2015, was a big day for students of Government Bilingual High School (GBHS). They received on their assembly ground an Ambassador of Tunza Eco generation to Cameroon who came to hand over prize award to winners of environmental writing competition he organised for the institution. The winners, Kunde Raymond(M), Sherone Limnyuy(F) and Guietso Sherifatou(F), were happy to earn a certificate or recognition, and a cash prize ranging from 2 000 FCFA($4) to 10 000 FCFA($20) for the highest prize. They also had Tunza pens and Tunza flyers to learn more about the environment.

Mr. Kum Christian is the Principal of GBHS Babessi. Speaking at the prize award ceremony, Mr Kum said” I like to thank Tunza Eco-generation for extending this kind of competition to GBHS Babessi. And I think, this competition has not only encouraged the students but has gone a long way to make them understand the basics of their eco system and how much the ecosystem has to play with the environment in which they find themselves in.”

Citing the importance of the competition to students, Mr Kum revealed “it has widened the scope of students and empowered them on their write ups” and also disclosed their doors are open for such initiatives.
Kunde Raymond is the winner of the competition. He was chosen among 30 brilliant competitors.

He takes home 10 000 FCFA ($20), an award certification and will benefit from a special mentorship from the Tunza Ambassador, Israel Bionyi Nyoh. Raymond’s principal is not surprised he won the 1st prize. He said the student is a great leader to whom he always confers the coordination of their class and assured us he is very committed, shows interest in everything he does and even possess an intellectual urge to grow. 

Mr Nkwatoh, the Vice principal of the institution is also happy with the venture. He tipped the Eco Ambassador to visit other schools in order to make a wider impact with the environmental awareness raising campaign next time.

But before Monday, there was another a sensitization campaign held with four secondary schools in the Babessi Development multipurpose hall on Saturday 9 May, 2015. A total of 300 students from different schools in Babessi came to listen to educative talks about water, the importance of education and the environment.

Exposing in front of the students about the importance of keeping a healthy environment, the Eco campaigner told the students “water is live. Live began with water from the mother’s whom. We need clean water to have energy in order to study well and we must wash our hands very well before meals to avoid diseases…” The ambassador also tipped the students on what is environment friendly and on healthy, but eco habits and lastly urged them to keep clean because “cleanliness is next to Godliness”.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

PARIS-COP 21

 France Offers 295 Million FCFA (450 000 EUR) to COMIFAC Countries

Hervé, Christine and Raymonds sign and exchange the 295 million FCFA funding deal at COMIFAC Headquarters
Yaoundé- On Friday 10thApril, 2015, a funding agreement was signed, between the French Development Agency (AFD), represented the country director, Mr. Hervé Conan, the French Embassy to Cameroon, represented by Ambassador, Madame Christine ROBICHON and the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) represented by the Executive Secretary, Mr. Raymond Mbitikon at the COMIFAC headquarters here in Yaoundé.

Signed to strengthen the capacity of the COMIFAC countries in the domain of REDD +,  the convention is said to help COMIFAC to prepare a common proposition to defend during their participation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference on Climate Change (COP 21), to be held from 30th November to 11th December in Paris.

To Christine, “the 295 million FCFA  (450 000 EUR) funding will help Congo Basin countries to bring up a proposition at Paris which will explain the role their forests play in regulating  global climate change, particularly via the Reduced Emissions mechanism linked to Deforestation and Degradation (REDD +)”.
The COMIFAC boss affirms, they will do their best for Central Africa’s voice to be heard and concerns addressed in Paris latter this year. He said “the participation of COMIFAC member countries will lead to the conclusion of negotiations on a new global climate deal, and to the taking of important decisions on REDD + for most countries in Central Africa, a way not only to limit emissions, but equally to fight against global warming, likewise push for sustainable development in the sub region.”

Since the beginning of 2015, France has heightened their support for the protection of Biodiversity and Wild Life in Cameroon and the Central African region. They have a page consecrated to COP21 on the website of the French Embassy to Cameroon, where they produce quality information and Op eds about climate change in the region.

For the month of April, the France, via the French Embassy in Cameroon launched:

- The Valorization Of Non-Wood Forest Products As A Tool For Local Development- project
- The Water & Women Photo Competition-winners rewarded &
- Climate, Agriculture and Forest Challenge- Winners in Cameroon announced

All three projects have directly and indirectly impacted on the lives of more than 300 individuals.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

US AMBASSADOR TO CAMEROON SAYS CAMEROON’S IMMINENT PROGENIES RISKS KNOWING ELEPHANTS ONLY IN THE HISTORY BOOKS

In an op-ed published on the website of the US(United States of America) embassy in Cameroon on the 3rd of March, 2015, Michael S. Hoza the US Ambassador to Cameroon made it clear that protecting elephants is a national security priority.

US Ambassador to Cameroon, Michael S. Hoza, at The Bouba N’djida National Park met elephant skeletons instead of live elephants.

Today, there are only 90 000 to 150 000 elephants left in the Central African Region, Cameroon having a big majority of the population.  Although poaching has reduced considerably since 2012, poachers have succeeded to kill up till date, 600 and more of these precious heavy weights land mammals in Cameroon.

After visiting the Bouba N’djida National Park, and having a firsthand view of the situation, Michael S. Hoza is sorry to say him and his team “did not see a single live elephant over the course of three days” in a park that used to preserve 800 elephants in 2008. Instead of elephants, he met skeletons of slaughtered giant mammals in the park.

Ivory trade is believed to be the key driver of elephant poaching in Cameroon and elsewhere in the world. Michael says his country “has taken a firm stand against this trade, and last year imprisoned an American citizen for illegally trading ivory”.

 “Also, on February 11, 2014, President Obama announced the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking that strengthens American capacity to counter the global security threat posed by transnational criminal organizations that engage in trafficking wildlife." He added.

However, he calls on all stake holders involved in the global fight against poaching and ivory trafficking to join hands with Cameroon. He challenged them to swell up their efforts and partner with the Cameroon government and the people to safe Cameroon’s elephants before it goes extinct.

Michael is convinced there is still “time to save Cameroon’s tragically dwindling elephant population… and wildlife for future generations -- before it is too late”. But equally called on the attention of people by pointing out, “the fast decimation of elephants in Bouba N’djida indicates that if the current trend continues, our children and grandchildren will one day read about elephants only in the history books as an extinct species.”

The Ambassador reiterated the “U.S. Embassy is prepared to commit resources to protect wildlife in Cameroon, and the U.S. Government is working hard with governments in Asia and elsewhere to try to reduce demand for ivory, rhinoceros horn and other trafficked wildlife commodities." 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

BIO NON-DEGRADABLE PLASTICS BAN IN CAMEROON: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?

It is close to 10 months since the ban on the production of Bio Non Degradable Plastics of less than 60 microns in Cameroon, but it is far from being a reality in Bafoussam and many other towns of Cameroon. Cameroon Tribune, the state owned lone bilingual newspaper in Cameroon reported on January 15, 2015 that “Non-biodegradable plastic sacks are back in homes and markets in spite of the April 24 ban”. They further explained, traders in the sector were just creating a superficial scarcity to rocket up prices and make more profits.
Plastic bags banned by the April 24, 2014 decree on  Bio Non Degradable plastics in Cameroon

Shortage in the supply of biodegradable plastics to shops and markets places is seemingly the reason why traders are returning to their old habits. Some shop owners complain about the heavy cost of procuring the Bio degradable bags ranging from FCFA 50 to 1000 depending on the size. It is however not good for business because traders say their clients wouldn’t want to buy plastics for such an exorbitant amount which hitherto, was given to them free.

Law experts say what shop owners and industries who venture into this business fail to understand is that according to article 81 of the April 24, 2014 ban, they risk a FCFA 10 to 50 million fine as well as two to five years of imprisonment if caught dealing with such products.

But how effective is this law implemented? Here in Bafoussam, Kamkop, my neighbor Mr. Sylvain a shop owner told me “I still have a lot of bags at my disposal but because, I want to respect the law, I am selling it to a giveaway price to dealers”. Dealers like Ngenglefac Bonaventure in Yaounde who pays time without numbered FCFA 25 000 as fine to controllers from the Ministries of Environment and Trade in order get his products into the market. His products and other non-degradable plastics are highly in use today. Make a stop at the market or shop to buy anything anywhere in Cameroon and you are well served with a plastic as before the ban.

Although some few bakeries are fully established with the biodegradables, the number is very small as compared to the number of shops and markets in Cameroon. The Director of Standards and Control at the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature Enow Peter told Cameroon Tribune that a reasonable quantity of non-biodegradable paper might still be circulating and that they might be entering the country illegally; but cautioned the public to steer clear. He explained that the public should be aware that government wants plastic bags with focus on “thickness with a distinction of above 61 microns.”

Monday, 9 February 2015

WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE FUTURE IS RESERVED FOR COUNTRIES OF THE CONGO BASIN

In a joint report of the project called “Climate Change Scenarios for the Congo Basin” by GIZ, CSC and WUR of the Netherlands published on the 8th of January calls for more vigilance in this zone.

The Congo forests are extreme importance for storing carbon and mitigating of the effect global warming to balance the equation. Because of lack of quantifiable data in the Congo Basin, the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) sponsored the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to implement the project “Climate Change Scenarios for the Congo Basin” aimed at providing the Congo Basin countries and leaders good climate change predictions that can allow them adapt their resilience strategies for natural resources such as water, forest and agriculture.
Logging in Cameroon, dozens of these logs head to Douala from the East region of Cameroon every day.

The 1.530.000€ project started in 2010 ran for 3 years.  GIZ, the Climate Service Centre (CSC) in Hamburg, Germany and the Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) were the main players.They divided the tasks into research and facilitating transfer of results to the different parties concerned.

After collecting and analyzing Data from 77 different climate change projections from global and regional models, the experts think climate change is likely to have a negative impact on development in Africa. A situation that earlier in 2014, findings from a KU Leuven study in Africa had revealed that in 2050 Central Africa will have an average of 1.4 °C hotter than today as a result of global greenhouse gas emissions. They equally added, deforestation will add an extra 0.7 °C to that figure.

Because the predictions indicate an eminent increase in rainfall, the experts believe the Congo Basin nations should take note of floods in the central and western zones, but also advise them to take this opportunity to increase on their productivity in electricity and agriculture since precipitation abundance will favour both. However, they are invited equally to exploit other sources of energy like solar powered system.

 The projections also say there will generally be low emission scenarios, 46 of the analysis confirm this and Countries of this zone are challenged to maintain a stable growth in their emission because an increase concentration of CO2 might favor forest growth. At last, the experts forecast a favorable GDP for the nations but warn farmers to regularly practice mixed cropping to prevent easy soil wash off by the frequent run offs and the decision makers to promote agroforestry reforestation to prevent forest degradation, as well as laying more emphasis on capacity building.

In response to this recommendations, The Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) increased their budget for 2015/2016 by 98, 707, 679 FCFA on the occasion of the eighth session of the Council of Ministers of COMIFAC that took place in Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi on January 16, 2015. However, the Ministers of this body congratulated Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea for their punctuality with contributions and then discussed the situation of conservation and protected networks in Africa as well as bring to table the faith of conferences and other platforms of trainings and decision making.