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).