Potential for collaboration with Agricultural Training Center

Global Hand Cameroon recently had the opportunity to view an exceptional example of how biological agriculture is being taught and put into practice at the Centre Polyvalent de Formation agricultural training institution in Mbouo, Bandjoun (Western Region of Cameroon).

Biological agriculture, also known as bio-ag or organic farming, is a farming system that rejects the use of synthetic chemicals or fertilizers. Bio-ag has been a somewhat controversial practice, with some farmers arguing that it is too time-consuming and too strenuous. And yet, over the years, bio-ag has proven to be the most sustainable, cost effective, and ultimately the most profitable farming system. Importantly, it has been shown to have strong health and environmental benefits.

While we often look at farming only in the light of guaranteeing food security, we cannot overlook the fact that agriculture is a primary reason why wetlands and forests are being degraded, leading to the environmental and health crises we are facing today. Considering that over half of the people living in Cameroon are small-scale or subsistence farmers, the need to utilize bio-ag techniques is urgent.

We thus were highly encouraged to see such techniques being taught at the Centre Polyvalent de Formation (CPF) when we visited. Among the existing agricultural training institutions, the CPF has an exceptional record in its training procedure. Created in 1981 by decision of the council of Evangelical Churches of Cameroon, the CPF offers multidimensional trainings, with agriculture as one of its best. Agricultural classes are focused on natural techniques to overcome both food crop and livestock challenges. Some of these techniques include the production of bio-fertilizers, efficient micro-organism (EM) bio-pesticides and bio-insecticides, enhanced organic food for animals, and the use of solar dryers to transform crops for household consumption.

During our visit at the CPF, we discussed the possibility of a collaborative effort to extend their agricultural trainings to the South West Region of Cameroon. A smooth collaboration would improve the lives of a great many people in the South West Region by improving the quality of food they eat and preserving the natural state of the environment. Together, officials at the CPF and Global Hand Cameroon are enthusiastic about pursuing such a collaboration. We have agreed to further discussions and will be working on obtaining necessary grants and other financial support to achieve this very important and promising goal.

Media professionals attend training workshop on vaccination against polio

On 15 September 2023, a representative of Global Hand Cameroon attended an informational meeting on the upcoming campaign for polio vaccination in the South West region of Cameroon. The meeting was held at the conference hall of the South West Region of the Ministry of Public Health in Buea, and was designed for local journalists to help them sensitize the community on the importance of vaccination.

According to communication focal person, Mukwelle Cynthia, polio is a communicable disease that is usually transmitted by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Primarily affecting children under the age of five (although it can also affect adolescents and adults), the polio virus causes permanent paralysis of the limbs and thus is an extremely debilitating and terrible disease.

The aim of this round of campaigns is to strengthen the collective immunity of children under the age of five against type 2 polio virus by vaccinating all children in this age group with the new Type 2 Oral Polio Vaccine, thereby stopping its circulation. It is hoped that the campaigns will provide an opportunity to improve vaccine coverage for those children under two years of age who may have missed out on routine immunization — especially those children from crisis-torn communities.

The campaigns are planned for September and October 2023 in the Centre, Littoral, North-West, West, South and South-West Regions. The main vaccination strategies will be door-to-door (preferred method), fixed points in health facilities, and temporary fixed points in schools, places of worship, markets, and other public/gathering places. The vaccines are free of charge.

Health experts agree that vaccination is by far the best way of preventing polio, providing safe and effective protection. We at Global Hand Cameroon are proud to support such worthwhile community efforts. Healthier people make a stronger community and a better environment for all.

Denouncing hate and hate speech, online and offline

Within the framework of a partnership agreement between Global Hand Cameroon and the organization Civic Watch — and in collaboration with the r0g_agency under the #defyhatenow programme — a one-day workshop was held for locals within the Bonavada communities in Buea on methods to identify, expose, and eliminate hate speech in their various localities.

The workshop, conducted on 13 June 2023, brought together men, women and youths, comprising people local to the area as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been forced from their homes due to the ongoing Anglophone Crisis.

During the training on the theme, “denouncing hate and hate speech, online and offline”, participants were educated on issues such as misinformation, disinformation and malinformation, and how these can form the basis of hate and hate speech. Making use of local examples, instructors described how slang words and stereotyped perceptions can affect people negatively — even when the user did not intend to cause harm.

Participants were urged to always process and reflect on information they receive, and if they want to continue to spread it, they should first consider the implications of what spreading the information will be (#thinkbeforeyouclick).

After participants had been sensitized to the dangers of using certain words with negative connotations on particular people or groups, they posed questions relating to how to better address and refer to other groups or people in ways that do not cause hate. They also asked about redlines to respect when it comes to using speech in a constructive way.

According to Mr. Evambe Thompson of Global Hand Cameroon, the purpose of the workshop was to “to teach people how to live together and how to avoid and denounce hate speech, because it is revealed that during this crisis period a lot of things have gone wrong. Communities have clashed with displaced people [IDPs] because the displaced people were competing for resources, and the communities sometimes did not want to grant them access.”

Moreover, rising tensions during the crisis are exacerbated by the way information is received and spread around communities — often without fact-checking — leading to people building and adopting biases. At the end of the day, these biases foster hate and inspire hate-speech, thus creating conflict.

The workshop was productive and well received. One of the participants, community member Azeteh Julius, said he learned a lot about things that he and others had normalised because they did not know any better. He termed the workshop fruitful, and stated he learnt things that will help society — how to live with others and not discriminate. “We learnt how to live with people from different places,” Mr. Azeteh said, “and I think that will help us a lot.”

At the end of the session participants requested further training workshops on the subject, as well as on other issues such as gender and gender-based violence, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and “smart agriculture”. We look forward to facilitating more of these types of workshops to create positive change.

Human-Elephant Conflict, Mount Cameroon

In late May and early June of 2023, Global Hand Cameroon participated in several sensitization meetings that were held to address the problem of conflicts between forest elephants and local farmers. The meetings were held in three communities bordering Mount Cameroon National Park (Njonji, Idenau and Bomana) that have been especially impacted by elephant incursions. Other entities taking part in the meetings included the Mount Cameroon National Park Service, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Fako Guides and Porters Association (Fako-GUIPA), and Community Action for Development (CAD).

Human-elephant conflict in the areas bordering Mount Cameroon National Park is not a new phenomenon, but it has been steadily worsening over the past few years. Since the park was created in 2009, its elephant population has increased from an estimated 170 to approximately 300 today. This increase is largely due to the fact that much sensitization has been done in the adjacent communities, resulting in a drastic reduction in hunting and poaching activities in the park. However, with more elephants and larger herd sizes, the elephants are now ranging farther afield and making more frequent and destructive forays onto farmlands outside of the park. Farmers are losing entire crops and their livelihoods, and elephants are being killed.

The importance of resolving this issue cannot be overstated. Forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are listed as a Critically Endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As “forest cultivators,” these elephants are a vitally important component of the tropical rainforest ecosystem — classified as a “biodiversity hotspot” — that is protected in Mount Cameroon National Park. Traditionally, the people living in this area have celebrated the elephants with an annual Elephant Dance (Malley Dance), in which the existence and survival of the elephants and the forest they inhabit signifies the continuity of the culture and tradition of these communities. More recently, forest elephants have become an important factor in the developing ecotourism industry in the park. Clearly, forest elephants play a deep cultural, ecological, and economic role in the region.

However, the increasingly common raids by elephants on village farms have unsettled villagers and put their livelihoods at grave risk. Their farmlands, highly productive due to the area’s rich volcanic soils, provide essential subsistence for the burgeoning human population; when crops are destroyed by elephants, people have nothing to eat and genuinely suffer. To make matters worse, the ongoing Anglophone Crisis has resulted in a large influx of internally displaced people fleeing violence elsewhere in the region, thus placing additional stresses on the local populations.

At the sensitization meetings held in Njonji, Idenau and Bomana, a number of ideas were suggested to help alleviate the problem and prevent further damage and ill-will. Long-term solutions include building fencing and introducing scare tactics to keep elephants away from villages and crops. In addition, because elephants are reluctant to cross lava flows that separate forested areas, it may be possible to open corridors through these lava flows for elephants to pass, increasing areas within the park for them to feed. To help determine elephant movements in these corridor areas, wildlife cameras are being installed by Fako-GUIPA in collaboration with the park service and with support from WWF.

Suggestions for short-term solutions that would provide more immediate relief to the villagers include creation of alternative job/income opportunities, providing academic scholarships for children, offering vocational training to the farming youth populations, and introducing economic empowerment activities that can sustain households and provide a degree of social security.

While permanent and lasting solutions are being sorted out, we at Global Hand Cameroon are hopeful that some of these short-term solutions can be quickly implemented, providing relief to the communities, freeing them from stress and trauma, and assuring them of the concern of humanity — while at the same time protecting the endangered forests elephants of Mount Cameroon National Park.


Responsible Citizenship:  Working toward a kindlier and more welcoming community

Collaboration between organizations
Collaboration between the Civic Watch and Global Hand Cameroon organizations

According to the international NGO, Human Rights Watch, at least 6,000 civilians have been killed and 598,000 persons have become internally displaced since Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis began in 2016 (Cameroon Events of 2022). Because these internally displaced people were forced from their homes and had to flee to neighboring or far away villages or cities, they usually have very few or no provisions and thus are completely dependent on the goodwill of individuals, groups or associations. In some communities, the displaced population is competing with locals over land for agriculture or forest resources to generate income for household needs.

These issues can lead to conflict between the indigenes and the displaced population and result in hate speech between both parties. This is in addition to the animosity that has long existed between English-speaking and French speaking Cameroonians.

As the crisis persists with periodic insurgence, hate and hate speech are gaining ground. Buea, the capital of Cameroon’s South West Region, is made up of over 85 villages, with a total population of 300,000 persons according to the 2013 census. However, largely due to the crisis, the population has exploded in the past ten years. In some of the villages, more than half of the population is comprised of displaced people. Thus, the host villagers consider the displaced people as a threat because it’s sometimes difficult to manage and control resources. This, of course, becomes a breeding ground for hate and hate speech.

In light of the above, Global Hand Cameroon met again with the organization Civic Watch to exchange ideas and obtain training manuals and field guides (in Pidgin and English) that denounce the use of hate speech. Civic Watch, partnering with the #defyhatenow program, has an office in Yaoundé and conducted a Fact-Checking Fellowship training program which Global Hand attended last November (see previous blog). As we move towards working together, our mission is to ensure a society that is free of hate and hate speech. Moreover, we look forward to a friendlier community where resources are shared without bias or stigmatization.

Community activities to assist in alleviating rural poverty and protecting genetic resources

Non-timber forest products — especially those with medicinal value such as Voacanga, Harungana, and the well-recognized Prunus Africana ** — have long been the pharmacy to locals. Due to the frequent need for such genetic resources, some people have begun to domesticate these resources to ease collection, guarantee availability, and also for economic purposes. The affordability of these resources and the increasing demand in local, national, and international markets has motivated locals to increase the number of trees on their farms.

With the increasing numbers of farmers growing prunus trees, there is also an increased need to protect their common interests, especially from buyers seeking such products. For this reason, prunus farmers and communities with community forests have united through the Multipurpose Cooperative. This has allowed them to strengthen their bargaining power and expose their concerns and interests to the outside world. Because plants like prunus are harvested once after every 3 to 5 years, these farmers organize regular meetings to discuss issues affecting them and to exchange ideas.

Since the marketing of prunus bark is not determined by the farmers themselves but by the international market and international conservation and genetic resource policies, it can be difficult for farmers to determine their income. Some of the farmers have prunus trees that have never been harvested for over 20 years, thus affecting their income and leaving them in abject poverty. Other farmers have resorted to using their prunus trees as fuel. Consequently, the need to assist and support them through complementary activities is essential.

It was in this regard that during the 26th January 2023 meeting in the Regional Delegation of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife—South West Region, that Global Hand, a collaborating partner with the Multipurpose Cooperative, took the opportunity to talk with members about the International Day to Overcome Poverty (17th October) and to propose some complementary activities that can assist these farmers with additional income during off seasons. Some identified activities include snail rearing, beekeeping and honey processing. The trainings have been scheduled to take place in the months of March and May 2023. These two activities have been selected and agreed to be the pilot phase of the initiative.

By working together to preserve valuable genetic resources such as Prunus Africana, we can effect positive change — directly benefitting both the environment and people’s lives.


** Prunus Africana, locally known as “kanda stick”, is a large tree native to Cameroon which has a wide range of benefits — both ecological and medicinal. Not only is it a critical player in the ecosystem, providing shade and soil stability, but its bark has long been used to treat a variety of illnesses by brewing as a tea or mixing with other herbs.


Denouncing mis- dis- and mal-information / hate and hate speech

Mr. EVAMBE Thompson next to conference banner
Mr. EVAMBE Thompson at fact-checking conference

The democratization of the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Cameroon has greatly facilitated access to information and its corollary, freedom of expression. This has improved the production of information by actors who do not often possess the technical, ethical and professional know-how. This is also influenced by the intrinsic nature of the internet, and social media in particular. Access to and use of ICTs evolve in the absence of a standardized restrictive, regulatory and legal framework which can considerably limit the ability of an internet user to influence the information, socio political and security agenda of community or a state (#AFFCameroon).

Disinformation, hate speech, and stigmatization speech online and even in mainstream media are very much in the news. According to François-Bernard Huyghe, very often behind the fake information are hidden media strategies aimed at manipulating public opinion and serving the interests of its instigators. This is done with the objective of either weakening a state, or (in a logic of economic competitiveness) of hampering the competition; or it may also aim at tarnishing the image or reputation of an individual and projects/programs (#AFFCameroon).

Given this situation, #defyhatenow initiated the Africa Fact-Checking Fellowship, a program that aims to train media practitioners in online fact-checking and hate speech detection. The goal is to create a critical mass of fact-checkers and information defenders to curb online and offline hate speech and digital rights advocates by making use of a wider audience such as public and private organizations/institutions.

Thus, the first meeting of the African Fact-Checking Fellowship took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 18–19 November 2022. Over 150 fellows met for the conference, while guests from state ministries, private institutions and civil society organizations were all present to give their support to the initiative and better still push the vision of the #defyhatenow initiative forward. Present at the ceremony was the co-founder of the r0g_agency and #defyhatenow initiative, The Minister of Communication, the European Union Ambassador to Cameroon, and the Country Project Manager #defyhatenow_WCA / President of Civic Watch.

Global Hand Cameroon was honored to attend this conference and plans to incorporate these concepts into its classroom programs with school children.

Local Actions and Commitments Relating to SDGs (2030)

Mr. EVAMBE Thompson at SDG seminar
Mr. EVAMBE Thompson at SDG seminar

To commemorate the seventh anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Global Hand Cameroon participated in a seminar organized by the United Nations Cameroon, the Ministry of Youth Affairs, and Civic Education and partners.  The seminar was held 20-23 September 2022 at the City Hall in Buea.

In 2015, the United Nations member states adopted 17 SDGs as a blueprint to ending poverty and protecting the planet by 2030.  These goals, which relate to the environmental, political and economic challenges that are faced by humanity, had originally been conceptualized at the Rio de Janeiro United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.

Experts at the Boao Forum for Asia argue that the success of achieving these goals by 2030 hinges on the ability of all countries (in Asia and beyond) to work together.  On the other hand, the UN through the UNHCR offers a universal, integrated, transformative and human rights-based vision for sustainable development, peace, and security which is applicable to all people and all countries.

Progress made by each country toward the successful implementation of these world goals is measured on the ability to accomplish all 17 goals.  In Africa, Algeria is the top performer with a score of 71.54 (on a scale of 100); Cameroon ranks lower at 55.55.  By contrast, the four top ranking countries of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have scored 86.51, 85.63, 85.19, and 82.35 respectively.

At the Buea seminar, issues on gender/gender equality, poverty, hunger, climate change and waste/waste management were center of discussion.  The UN representative Mr. NJITA Jean (Head of Office at the United Nations Information Centre Yaoundé – Cameroon) and Mr. ENOME Christantus NGOME (Regional Chief of Service for Youth Social Integration and Volunteerism at the Regional Delegation of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education for the South West Region, Buea) challenged the youths, councils’ personnel, and community-based organizations like Global Hand Cameroon to orient their activities towards the 17 world goals.  Above all, they stressed the importance of strengthening their efforts by networking at all levels.

The seminar was a great step forward toward achieving our goals of achieving peace and prosperity for all.


The role of culture in sustainable development:  Traditional farming techniques of the Mountain Dwellers (Mokpé People)

Exploring for renewable natural resources on Mount Fako (Mt. Cameroon)
Exploring for renewable natural resources on Mount Fako (Mt. Cameroon)

In spite of international investments and national socio-economic and political support, development efforts in developing countries – especially in Africa, and Cameroon in particular – have often failed to bring about sustainable results to the local communities (the farming population). Traditional farming techniques are believed to be a reliable measure in enhancing food security and promoting sustainable management of natural resources.

Ms. Egnalyn NGWE is a Gender and Development Anthropologist who contends that traditional farming techniques as a cultural expression will not only ensure food security but also create a balance with the natural resources.  The concept of her research postulates that the absence or negligible role of culture in development debates and action is a major cause of rural poverty and mismanagement of natural resources, and therefore regards the role of culture and its expressions as central to achieving sustainable development.

For a period of five months (May to September 2022) Global Hand teamed with Ms. NGWE to identify the target population in the Bokwaongo, Vasingi, Ewonda, Bova II, Bonakanda and Bokwai communities, as well as to facilitate interviews and focus group discussions in these communities.  Participants included farmers in crop cultivation (chiefly yam, coco-yam, plantain and vegetables) and livestock (pigs, goats and bee farming).

Discussion items included the following:

  1. The cultivation techniques of the Mokpé people, the major crops cultivated, and livestock raised.
  2. Evidence of the role of culture in enhancing food security in the Buea Subdivision.
  3. The role of culture in promoting the sustainable management of natural resources.
  4. The cultural significance of these food crops, livestock and natural resources to the sustainability of the people.
  5. The rationale, outcome, impact and challenges of this cultural practice.
  6. Recommendations to promote the potentials of the practice in the achievement of sustainable development.

While there are indisputably many positive aspects to utilizing traditional farming practices, much is still to be done to provide technical and financial support to these rural communities to overcome challenges from post-harvest losses, climate related threats, and expanding protected areas that are reducing farming space and harvest processing.

Food Security

The challenges facing the agricultural sector are on the rise, especially with climate change affecting the health of farmers and the environment as a whole. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) holds that agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, and according to the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2.5 billion people depend on the sector for their livelihoods, yet the vast majority make less than 5 US dollars a day. According to the World Resources Institute, climate change is projected to have net adverse impacts on crop yields, with up to 50% less yields given the predicted warmer world.

Unfortunately, with the increasing challenges, over 84% of the farmers affected by climate change are small holders who produce 30 to 34% of the world’s food. Consequently, these farmers must contend with challenges like low yields, poor efficiency, and the impact of climate change. Thus, to ensure food security, agriculture needs to become more sustainable—economically, environmentally, and socially—by applying innovation through digital technology (UNDP).

Considering that amongst the 84% of small holders, the majority of such farmers—especially in Africa, and Cameroon in particular—come from rural communities and constitute more of the women population who have very little or no understanding of technology or digitalization of their activities. All this seriously jeopardizes the efforts of rural women towards ensuring food security.

With this in mind, we planned and organized a working session with key actors in the rural communities of the South West Region of Cameroon to assess and evaluate the knowledge and usage of digital, technological agriculture.

In the course of our discussions, we learned that 90% of the participants had no idea what technological or digital agriculture was all about, while the other 10% who were aware of it, really had no idea how to apply that knowledge. Furthermore, we realized that the participants had limited knowledge on what climate change was and some of them did not comprehend the term Smart Agriculture, thus making it clear that without better education, these women will not be able to sustain even their own household in the long run.

At the end of the session, these women requested that Global Hand plan more enlarged and inclusive training workshops and focused group discussions to enhance their knowledge of the application of technological and digital agriculture. Other areas in which the participants found interest is in the domain of climate change, especially in its mitigation and the adaptations required by it.

We are encouraged by this interest and plan to conduct more such educational sessions in the future.