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.
CAMGEW from 2012 to 2018, planted 72.400 bee loving trees in the Kilum-Ijim forest and trained 930 bee farmers in honey production and bees wax extraction. She has also distributed above 730 local beehives to trained bee farmers.
She has organized more than 1000 bee farmers into 5 Oku White Honey cooperatives located around Kilum-Ijim forest(atAtumikui in Belo, Mutteff in Fundong, Akeh in Fundong, Muloin in Njinikom, Vekovi in Jakiri) and provided them with technical and material support. These cooperatives which are in the process of legalization have come to add to existing cooperative in Oku making a total of 6.
610 farmers have been trained on agroforestry techniques to increase crop production and conserve the soil. As of December 2017, about 987 women have receiving training on business skills and 907 women gotten financial assistance in form of loans. 24 teenage boys and girls have been trained on dress making, shoe making and hair dressing in Oku.
CAMGEW has also developed 3 tree nurseries with more than 150.000 trees. She has a HONEYSHOP in Bamenda where she converts bee farmers honey to money to fight poverty, unemployment and better protect the forest. When bee farmers own beehives in the forest they engage in forest protection can no longer burn the forest and should bushfire occur they rush to stop it and protect their beehives. In doing so they protect the forest and so CAMGEW saw it important to convert their honey to money for them to value the forest.
Based in Oku, CAMGEW has as Director, Wirsiy Emmanuel Binyuy, an Apiculture and Nature Conservation Campaigner and is assisted by Ngum Jai Raymond who works too on apiculture and forest regeneration and Sevidzem Ernestine Leikeki who focus on improving livelihoods of forest people.
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 peopleon 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.
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 own 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 (Ngokse) of the Month every month to share ideas, learn, get information, exchange, socialize (eat, drink, play,crack jokes, play njangi and do savings). The same hold for Bikov Community forest every 17th Day of the month. CAMGEW is facilitating these meetings. The FMI in the 7 community forest facilitated the planting of 1200 bee loving trees in their various community forest this July 2018. A total of 8400 bee loving trees have been planted in 2018 by 7 Community forest members and CAMGEW in the Kilum forest.
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 because of her work in Kilum-Ijim forest won the 2018 Cameroon Energy Globe Award. The project that got the award is “Kilum-Ijim forest conservation and green value chain development for Oku White Honey”. The Energy Globe Award is today’s 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 activities of Energy Globe attract worldwide media attention – international TV stations report each year with approximately 1,000 hours of broadcasting time. The aim of the Energy Globe is to raise global attention on sustainable environmental solutions and to motivate people to also become active in this area.
It should be noted that Kilum-Ijim forest is the largest remaining Montane forest found in the Bamenda Highland Region of Cameroon and is a biodiversity Hotspot for birds. Bannermansturraco is a special bird with red feathers that is used to decorate notables. This bird is critically endangered as seen in the IUCN Redlist. This forest produces a special type of honey called the Oku White Honey which is certified as Geographical Indication Product by African Intellectual Property Right Organization. Only 2 of these products are certified in Cameroon with the other being the Penja White pepper. Kilum Mountain or better called Mount Oku is the second highest mountain in Cameroon and Central Africa after Mount Cameroon measuring 3011m. Kilum forest host the Oku Lake which is a crater lake falling along Mount Cameroon volcanic line. Oku Lake and surrounding forest host the Plantlife Sanctuary.
CAMGEW is grateful to her partners like Man and Nature – France and French – IUCN(PPI-FFEM), Bees for Dvelopment, Swisshand Foundation and others for financial support.