Global Hand Cameroon recently participated in a multi-day event to mobilize and facilitate the opening and rehabilitation of hiking trails and eco-lodges in Mt. Cameroon National Park. This activity was organized by Mt. Cameroon National Park with the support of local organizations and individuals who have a good mastery of the area.
Infrastructure development in the park ranges from improving the network of both footpaths and motorable roads, to the construction of eco-lodges and campsites with tent platforms. All of this is to facilitate the stay of visitors within the park.
To recognize and celebrate World Soils Day on 5 December 2019, Global Hand Cameroon visited pupils at a local school to discuss soil protection and conservation. Mindful of the fact that the parents of most of the students are farmers, we took time to educate the children on the importance of soil and the role of human influence on soil pollution and its resulting consequences.
Local farmers currently face serious environmental challenges in the form of prolonged and severe wet/dry seasons, strong winds, erosion and pests. Because of this, many have resorted to the use of chemical weeding, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. These non-traditional methods of farming have had negative effects on the soil as well as producing crops that rot faster and, in some cases, have an inferior flavor.
Our discussion with the school children focused on ways in which traditional farming methods could be modified without the use of chemicals to protect our soils and increase production, thus improving our lives.
Following our community education program during the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October 2019, we talked to some local community members, including Mr. Ferdinand Ikome Wonganya.
Ferdinand is a good example of someone who has overcome poverty by finding new and better opportunities right in his own community. He was once a hunter because his parents did not have the opportunity to go to school, likewise himself. As a hunter at a very young age, he would spend three to four days in the bush without a kill. Today, however, he is a tour guide with an income of at least XAF 30000 (45€ / $50) for every three-day trip on Mount Cameroon. With this income, he has been able to send his children to school and provide for their basic needs and amenities.
In sum, Ferdinand testifies that life is much better now that he is working in the conservation field. Not only does he make more income than before, but working as a guide is less strenuous than work as a hunter. Ferdinand advises other hunters to work in sustainable natural resource fields such as ecotourism and modern beekeeping rather than hunting to eradicate poverty in their families and communities. In this way, our children will have a better life.
As part of our ongoing work to promote alternatives to the old, unsustainable practices of hunting wildlife and wild honey, it was natural to identify ecotourism and modern beekeeping as positive alternative activities. Not only do these activities benefit the environment and ecosystem at large, but they generally provide a more reliable source of income.
However, in light of the recent socio-political situation in Cameroon, we have seen the need to diversify income generating activities and improve marketing strategies. Global Hand Cameroon thus recently participated in a three-week training course, learning to produce mead (also called honey wine) from local honey. This new endeavor will allow local beekeepers to add value to honey production, as well as create a new job market for individuals to produce and sell the mead.
On 18 November 2019, Global Hand Cameroon organized an “on-the-farm” training session on modern beekeeping and colony management practices. Local residents attending the training included honey hunters, farmers, traditional beekeepers and tourism porters and guides. Educational topics included the importance of melliferous and medicinal plants, fruit trees and other flowering crops that provide nectar for bees. This is just one of many ways we are attempting to integrate tree planting, restoration of forest cover and expansion of the carbon sink in a way that is more profitable not only to the local people, but also to the entire ecosystem.