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.

Community Water Schemes, A Relief Effort

Community of Buea, Cameroon
Community of Buea, South West Region, Cameroon

According to the Water Resilience Coalition of the of the UN Global Compact, over two billion people around the world are living in water stressed areas.  Buea is a community situated on the slopes of Mount Cameroon with a population of more than 180,000 people, ranging from natives to non-natives…farmers and non-farmers, likewise pupils and students. This diversity of people depends on water for their livelihood and maintaining their activities. While the farmers place themselves at the top of the list in terms of priority as to who needs water most, the students and actors from the formal and informal sectors also make a stand on the issue of why their interests are a priority.

Presently, a water crisis is affecting almost every quarter and village in the sub-division, with the those of the average/low income and farmers feeling the pinch most acutely. Very often, the municipality suffers from a low water table, and springs, streams and drinkable rivers run completely dry during the dry season. This is believed to occur as a result of cutting down trees and exposing these water sources to direct sunlight, while the second school of thought holds that climate change is the major factor to the water crisis faced by the municipality.

Whether or not water sources are being exposed or climate change is affecting the water ration, the community water scheme has stood the test of time over the years. However, now, in the midst of the water crisis, public taps dry up with very little or no warning, and communities (both urban and rural) are looking for rescue. The majority of villages along the slope of Mount Fako (Mt. Cameroon) depend on community water catchment systems, which today are agreed to be the most reliable and accessible schemes. Some community members confirm that they have not drank water from public taps for over a decade because they went dry and sometimes the taps are overcrowded which often result in fights.  With water catchment systems they avoid these issues.

To sustain the interest, activities and the posterity of community water catchments, it is important to ensure the engagement of the locals and ownership of such projects for proper management.

Taking into account the fact that the dry season is around the corner and the water crisis is bound to intensify, community members recently carried out collective work to enhance the volume of water leaving the catchment to the tank and reducing the amount of water lost between the source and the catchment. After the exercise, the locals where happy with the quality of work they accomplished. This confirms that the amount of water entering the tank has increased as it takes much less time than before for the tanks to be full and the taps can run more frequently than before. Such initiatives are classified as best practices towards sustainable rural development because if such actions are not encouraged, it is argued that half of the world’s population will live in water stressed communities (Water Resilience Coalition).

Agriculture: Plantain Multiplication

Constructing a propagator to raise plantain plantlets


Today, youths constitute over 60% of Africa’s population and Cameroon alike. This group of persons are also considered vulnerable to violent conflict, crime, abuse and what have you. On the other hand, they are extremely resourceful in community development. It is with this in mind that we took the challenge to educate and engage 10 youths of the municipality in the domain of agriculture; specifically, on plantain propagation.

Buea is considered to be one of the most suitable agricultural space in the country. In fact, it is referred to as Cameroon in miniature due to its rich volcanic soil and other environmental variables that support crop diversity. With the increasing population in the area as a result of socio-political conflict, education, job hunting, or socio-cultural ties (to name but a few), the demand for food supply is on a daily increase; likewise the demand for farming space.

In this light, efficiency in food production through intensive rather than extensive farming is very paramount if we are to effectively meet up with these demands and at the same time make peace with the environment.

Through this, these youths have been trained and have acquired the necessary skills and know-how on how to select good mother plants for multiplication, how to prepare the comb and how to construct a propagator; in short, they have mastered the winning process. These stills will ensure a high and quality output, resistant plantlets and disease-free seedlings — thus, a cost-effective and space efficient farming system. This program is intended to train over 2500 youths and to provide each of the trainees with 100 plantain plantlets after every training session by 2025.

This will facilitate a peer education process among the youths, thus creating a positive behavioral influence. Moreover, we intend to continue educating, empowering and engaging our young people in positive developmental activities like smart agriculture, modern beekeeping, sustainable ecotourism and live skill development. The engagement of youths in meaningful community or live skill development activities like this is to help reduce their risk of vulnerability.



The Mount Cameroon region of Africa is world renown for many reasons.  It is one of the world’s most impressive active volcanoes, rising from sea level to its 4100m summit, and due in large part to this great elevational gradient it is an area of exceptional biodiversity.  But just as importantly, Mount Cameroon is also known as a culturally rich area with much associated folklore.

Newly-planted Magic Tree
Newly-planted Magic Tree

One piece of local folklore revolves around a solitary tree that once grew high on the steep slopes of the mountain.  It was a “mgbeli ya vako” or “magic tree”, and was locally named “éyeh ya teke muteh” after a hunter named Teke Muteh who first used the magic tree as his resting point.  This Magic Tree was one of the most cherished and visited sites on the mountain.  According to local legend, it was believed to be mystical because whenever the locals visited the mountain, they found it very difficult to get to the tree since it appeared that the tree was moving away from them as they moved towards it.  To the locals, the tree was an important point for resting, just as it had been for Teke Muteh.  Visitors had also used this point for resting and listening to local folklore and buying souvenirs.

Regrettably, some years back, some unknown persons vandalized and cut down this revered tree.  Due to the historical and cultural significance of the site, Global Hand Cameroon in collaboration with the Mount Cameroon National Park Service saw reason to revive the legend by planting a symbolic tree where the Magic Tree once stood.  This new Magic Tree will carry on the stories and traditions that are such an integral part of the park and the lives of the local people.


Community Engagement Towards Natural Resource Management

The Bantu people who settled around Mount Cameroon in the late 17th and early 18th centuries were drawn primarily by the abundance of resources they found in this lush area. Wildlife was plentiful and hunting was a priority activity. As time went on, the traditional hunting techniques which used only natural materials gave way to more efficient methods which included the use of wire snares, den-guns and dogs. These new techniques greatly increased the chances of making a kill.

Initially, this worked well. The vastness of the area permitted the hunters to establish large hunting grounds, and a single hunter could deploy between 150 and 500 snares or traps. Over the long term, however, this large-scale trapping was not sustainable, and wildlife numbers diminished critically. Since it was not easy to check so many traps regularly due to the difficult terrain, the traps ended up killing much wildlife regardless of age, sex or status (pregnant or not).

This unsustainable trend is now being reversed through the efforts of community-based organizations such as Global Hand Cameroon, as well as other institutions such as the Mount Cameroon National Park (MCNP). According to Mr. Ikome Nelson, Collaborative Management Unit Head of MCNP, the Program for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (PSMNR) has introduced a sustainable livelihood package that supports hunters by providing livestock, agriculture and vocational training as alternative income sources.

As part of this project, some identified hunters have already been trained in their various areas of interest. And due to the envisaged benefits of this initiative, hunters from two of the four targeted villages have collaborated with the park service to dismantle and remove their traps from around and within the national park. In that joint effort, the hunters handed over 3500 wire snares to the park service.

Wildlife and communities alike are benefitting from this very positive new initiative.