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.