Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch, CAMGEW, an organization based in Oku, North West region of Cameroon and working in Kilum-Ijim forest on conservation, poverty alleviation and job creation has seen her efforts yielding fruits and have been recognized variously for their biodiversity and “eco-community” efforts.
CAMGEW because of her work in Kilum-Ijim forest won the 2018 Cameroon Energy Globe Award. The Energy Globe Award is one of the most prestigious environmental prize worldwide. It distinguishes projects regionally, nationally and globally that conserves resources such as energy or utilizes renewable or emission-free sources.
The latest of her recognition is The Guardian Post 2019 Achievement Award in Eco-Community and Biodiversity awarded the organisation for her efforts in biodiversity protection, rehabilitation and damage mitigation programmes.
The awards according to the Director of CAMGEW, Wirsiy Emmanuel Binyuy, an Apiculture and Nature Conservation Campaigner is a call for more to be done to preserve the environment.
Created in October 2007, CAMGEW has recorded many successes which have gone a long way not only in conserving the forest but has also alleviated poverty and created more jobs.
Between 2012 to 2018, the organization planted over 75000 native and bee loving trees in the Kilum-Ijim, developed 3 tree nurseries with more than 150.000 trees and in 2018, CAMGEW assisted the Mbessa Proposed Community Forest to develop a tree nursery with a capacity of 10000 native trees.
CAMGEW has also trained 772 farmers on agroforestry techniques to increase crop production and conserve the soil.
Between 2012 and 2018, she trained 1018 bee farmers in honey production, honey quality control, and bees wax extraction and distributed above 895 local beehives to the trained bee farmers. To facilitate the sale of honey, in 2016 CAMGEW opened a HONEYSHOP in Bamenda where she converts bee farmers honey to money to fight poverty, unemployment and better protect the forest.
As of December 2018, about 1580 women had received training on business skills and 1325 women gotten financial assistance in form of loans to develop alternative activities and businesses in order to reduce the pressure on forest resources.
CAMGEW on her efforts to reduce the pressure on the forest and its resources has also trained 24 teenage boys and girls on dress making, shoe making and hair dressing in Oku.
CAMGEW Environmental Education activities have been able to directly reach 35000 mostly youths and women. The results have been that the occurrence of bush fires dropped from 7 in 2012 to 0 in 2018. Community members especially bee farmers and new farmers see their interests to protect in the forest in case of any bush fires. Fire tracing is now been done yearly.
The Kilum-Ijim forest had suffered from over exploitation of Prunus Africana that led to the ban on its exploitation in the Oku Community forest of Kilum forest because of poor exploitation and the fact that financial resources raised from the exploited trees never benefitted the local population.
The elected Oku community members to manage the forest for the community under the Forest Management Institutions were stopped from carrying their duties because of their poor practices. CAMGEW with Ministry of Forestry and wildlife (MINFOF), The Fon of Oku, Oku Council, Oku Divisional Officer, Oku Cultural and Development Association, Oku Community-based organizations and other stakeholders decided to engage in reorganizing the Forest Management Institutions of the 6 community forest in Oku. The process started in early 2017 with various meetings organized with different stakeholders.
The reorganization of the Forest Management Institutions to get new executive members for the Oku 6 community forest was done in various communities and the elected executive members were presented to Oku leaders, forest stakeholders and people on the 17th of April 2018. The elected members were sown to office and took an oath of selfless service, information sharing, reporting, transparency and accountability in front of the authorities and the people. This was arrived at following a forest stakeholders’ consultative meeting on the reorganization of forest management institutions on the 28th of March 2018 that came out with guidelines and deadlines for the elections.
- PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA
Present at these sessions were the Regional Chief of Forestry Department for MINFOF, the Bui Divisional Delegate for MINFOF, the Divisional Officer for Oku, the Mayor Elak Council and the Fon of Oku- FonSintieh II, leaders of community based organisations and members of the community. The Community Forests involved included the Nchiiy, Mbai, Emfve-Mii, Kedjem-Mawse, Ijim and Upper Shinga Community Forests. This happened at Elak – Oku Community hall.
The same exercise took place in Bikov Community forest in Jakiri Sub Division in Nso tribe bringing community leaders, forest stakeholders and community members to choose their leaders. The forest multi stakeholder consultative meeting was held on 17 May 2018 to decide election guidelines and deadlines. The elections were done on 18 June 2018 in the presence of community leaders, forest stakeholders and community members from the 4 villages (Kai, Ntur, Wvem and Vekovi) representing Bikov Community forest and the Fon of Nso’s representive.
The Kilum forest found in Bui Division of North West Region has 7 community forests. The reorganization started from Kilum forest this year and will continue to Ijim forest in the years ahead. With the new executive members of the 7 Forest Management Institutions of the 7community forest in place, work to better conserve the Kilum forest is assured because the community forest is owned by the community and managed by the community although with supervisory rule of the state and tradition. CAMGEW is working now with the various FMIs to protect the forest.
The FMI executive members and interested community members meet in Oku at the last Oku Market Day of the Month every month to share ideas, learn, get information, exchange, socialize. The same hold for Bikov Community forest every 17th Day of the month. CAMGEW is facilitating these meetings.
CAMGEW has told the FMI executives of the 7 community forest that their role is not just as ordinary as before (planting trees, commanding, carrying out patrols, stopping bushfire, exploiting Prunus) but they need to be true leaders who are selfless with creative and innovative minds to make the forest benefit community people in job creation, income generation, inclusivity and keep the forest for future generation. To do this, CAMGEW has agreed to assist them gain skills in fund raising, project development, entrepreneurial development, record keeping, leadership, management and reporting.
With the FMI and CAMGEW forest problems like presence of domestic animals in forest, bushfire, cutting down of fresh trees and clandestine harvesting of Prunus will handle in Kilum forest.
CAMGEW being a member of the National Apiculture Platform has also been sharing experience and knowledge with other organizations and farmers nationally and internationally. Such organizations are African Marine Mammal Conservation Organisation (AMMCO) and Ghanaian CSOs and Apimodia (the World’s large bee farming platform).
Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW) was created in October 2007 with authorization number N° 000998/RDA/JO6/BAPP to work on environmental and gender issues in Cameroon. CAMGEW works locally and thinks globally, integrating gender in solving environmental problems.