WFP shortlists COMINSUD to distribute food assistance in North West Cameroon

The World Food Programme (WFP) has identified COMINSUD as one of the organizations it could work with in the provision of emergency food assistances to the crisis hit North West Region of Cameroon. This was the essence of a visit by Hans Vlkoler, Emergency Coordinator WFP, Cameroon office, to the COMINSUD Bamenda headquarters on Friday April 12, 2019.
Hans Vlkoler said for the short term WFP activities in the Region would focus on setting up emergency response systems with potential partners. This done, targeted food assistance shall be made available to include school feeding, supplementary food and livelihood assistance. He disclosed that a central warehouse shall be set up in the North West Regional capital of Bamenda from where the items shall be dispatched.
For his part, COMINSUD’s coordinator Fon Nsoh assured that banking on its twenty two years of local community activities, the organization was ready for the challenge. COMINSUD he said was already collaborating with other UN structures such as the UNFPA in providing Mama and Dignity kids to Internally Displaced Persons of the Anglophone crisis. COMINSUD also worked with SNV to promote the Right to Food movement in Cameroon.
A partnership agreement between WFP and COMINSUD is expected to be signed in the days ahead detail the practical modalities of this partnership.
A few days earlier a delegation from Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontiers) working in the North West Region of Cameroon paid a courtesy visit COMINSUD. The team of three made up of Monica Fernadez, Deep W. B and Tataw Stephen came to seek pathways for collaboration with COMINSUD in helping people affected by the crisis in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon in general and the North West Region in particular.

Doctors Without Borders and COMINSUD partnering for humanity

A delegation from Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontiers) working in the North West Region of Cameroon paid a courtesy visit to the Bamenda head office of COMINSUD on Wednesday 11, April 2019 to this effect. The team of three made up of Monica Fernadez, Deep W. B and Tataw Stephen came to seek pathways for collaboration with COMINSUD in helping people affected by the crisis in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon in general and the North West Region in particular.
MSF has been in the Region since the end of 2018 offering emergency health assistance to victims of the crisis following a near collapse of the health sector in all seven Divisions of the North West Region. According to the MSF staff their choice of COMINSUD was based on their track record in offering humanitarian assistance to the needy even during normal times.
COMINSUD’s coordinator, Fon Nsoh presented a succinct overview of the activities of the organization since it was founded in 1996 and expressed satisfaction for the interest shown by MSF in its activities.
Following discussions that followed both organizations agreed to forester cooperation in areas including emergency medical assistance, fight against Gender Based Violence especially sexual abuse, mental health, providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) to persons in distress and education on health promotion.

 

 

 

 

Bamenda(Cameroon) suffocating under the weight of waste Population and authorities blame it on worsening socio-political stalemate.

IMG_20190310_180633Solid waste management in underdeveloped and developing countries represents a dangerous issue due to environmental impacts and human illnesses triggered by waste released into water bodies and by the practice of open burning which are usually underestimated by Governments. The lack of funding, public awareness, technological facilities and know how worsened the situation. In the crisis-hit North West and South West Regions of Cameroon the tense soci-political climate prevailing due to the Anglophone crisis has compounded situations the more.

A walk through the main streets of Bamenda is an eyesore of a dirt-feast the Ntarinkon market, to the Main market, Food market, Metta quarter and the famous “Fru Ndi” junction, heaps of garbage dumps compete against each other.IMG_20190310_180621

In most of these areas the dirt has been piling there for two months without being carried. Road and market uses are apparently helpless in spite of the discomfort they may be suffocating from: stench odor, breeding grounds for disease-transmitting organisms, air pollution…

A number of reasons have been advanced for this situation but the blame seems to reside on the degrading political climate due to a three year running crisis in this Region.  Anglophone separatists have instituted a no-work day (ghost towns) every Monday already cutting off some work hours for the dirt clearing company- HYSACAM. To make matters worse they have been threatening to send out this company from the Region. Some of their street cleaners have been attacked and their trucks burnt and roads leading to major dump sites have been blocked.IMG_20190310_180605

While the separatists argue that their actions are meant to put pressure on government seek a rapid solution to the crisis, a cross-section of the population thinks that hygiene and sanitation is one of those sectors that should be kept out a political struggle, because a health crisis will make no distinction between political actors.

Shu Tracy-Daisy Nchang

COMINSUD Volunteer

 

 

Working with volunteers: Transforming people in distress to pools of knowledge

For the past years, Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINUSUD) in its quest to promote community engagement, development and accountability has been building a strong network of community volunteers in the North West Region. Little did it even foresee that this network of volunteers may subsequently serve in a situation of crisis?

But it has come to pass with the outbreak of the now Anglophone crisis in November 2016. From a socio-political crisis it metamorphosed into a deadly armed conflict. This has resulted to thousands of displaced persons either moving out of their usual habitat, out of the Region and some to neighbouring countries especially Nigeria.

To adapt to this new dispensation, COMINSUD developed a project titled “TRANSFORMING PEOPLE IN DISTRESS TO POOLS OF KNOWLEDGE”.

OBJECTIVES:

  • To have a network of community volunteers to contribute in Community Engagement and accountability
  • Contribute to transforming those in distress to pools of knowledge.

REALISATIONS:

We now have a network of 50 trained volunteers (5 of them who are now permanent) from all 7 Divisions of the North West Region. 21 of this community based volunteers are internally displaced persons who were empowered during a workshop and later integrated into the transforming people in distress to pools of knowledge project.

APPROACHES/STRATEGIES:

Most of these volunteers have taken part in the following trainings aimed at re-enforcing their knowledge, skills and attitudes to enable then to be veritable community agents of change especially in a crisis situation.

  • Volunteering training organized by COMINSUD in August 2018 to enlighten the volunteers on what volunteering is and is not, the advantages of volunteering etc.
  • Workshop on Project Proposal Writing held at COMINSUD conference hall and organized by COMINSUD from the 8 – 10 August, 2018. This workshop was aimed giving more understanding to the volunteers on the various steps and aspects in project proposal writing.
  • Workshop on the provision of Psychological First Aid to Internally Displaced Persons – IDPs in North West Region, notably women, girls and boys on the 17 October 2018 at COMINSUD in Bamenda.
  • Workshop on Social Inclusion, Humanitarian Action and Peace Work in the Context of Conflict organized by COMINSUD and funded by UNFPA

CHANGES/IMPACT OF THE ACTIONS

  • Having a network of volunteers covering all the 7 Division of the North West Region has greatly increased our access to certain inaccessible communities.
  • Through the TRANSFORMING PEOPLE IN DISTRESS TO POOLS OF KNOWLEDGE initiative, we have been able to empower at least 21 IDPs giving them hope.

LESSONS 

  • Community development is valuable to the targeted communities when Community Engagement and Accountability is promoted.
  • Internally Displaced Persons shouldn’t be only seen as needy people but persons with pools of knowledge that can be transformed into agents of change.

CHALLENGES

  • The difficult and insecure working environments across the region.
  • Most of the transformed IDPs cannot give the optimal best due to lack or insufficient financial means.

In spite of the challenges COMINSUD is striving to ensure that community engagement and accountability should be promoted through the engagement of Community Volunteers and members of the concerned communities.

Nfon Peter

Vounteer and Youth Coordinator

Working in Syngery with Human Rights Service Providers

“We are equal in rights and dignity” – a summary of human rights and what social inclusion is out to promote.

To ensure this, COMINSUD in its Democracy and Empowerment of Women (DEW) Phase V project is holding series of meetings in 15 council areas to give an opportunity for the community to understand the services of individuals, organisations and institutions assigned to address issues of human rights.

With a goal to contribute to a socially-inclusive, non-discriminatory and gender sensitive society, the DEW V project at the beginning conducted, a baseline survey on the perception of human rights and the demand and protection of human rights by COMINSUD Part analysis showed that 72% of persons belonging to vulnerable segments do not know the structures that are responsible to render services to them. This baseline report thus paved the way for meetings that brought about service providers like the Divisional Officer, Lord Mayor and some Council staff, Forces of Law and Order, Inspectorate of Basic Education, Delegates of Social Services, Chairpersons of Traditional Councils, Doctors and Religious authorities. Also present were duty bearers especially vulnerable persons like; women, widows, youths, persons living with disabilities, persons belonging to a cultural minority group and orphans. Interesting questions that came up included:

  • Does the traditional council have the right to exile one from a community?
  • Where can one report a case of land dispute?
  • How much is set for bail from a police / gendarme post?
  • Do parents have the rights to corporal punishment over their children?

So far, 10 out of 15 meetings have taken place in 10 Municipal Councils bringing over 230 participants. At the end of the meetings, participants expressed heartfelt thanks for creating a forum wherein people could freely express themselves in issues concerning their rights. This is the second time that these meetings are taken place the first being in May 2016 and the second on going. All meetings were coordinated by DEW staff and other consultants of COMINSUD.

Written by Ijang Sandong

Ecokids – Learning by doing

Ecokids is here again! … to bring a clean and hygienic learning environment to schools and also to ensure pupils have access to drinking water.

Our volunteer Zita carried out several visits to Government School (GS) Alamatsom reaching out to 503 pupils of the primary section of the school sensitizing them on how to use their toilets and urinary.
The school is well constructed with good toilet facilities and urinary. Unfortunately they are not well managed by the users. Zita went there to throw more light on proper toilet use by simply guiding the children. The visits were carried out towards break in order to have more children to sensitize and also not to disrupt the classes in anyway.

Before this sensitization campaign, about half of the children used to urinate outside since other pupils mess the toilets and make it not usable. But now almost all of them use the toilets because they have been told and even illustrated what to do once there.

Unfortunately there is no adult person assigned to clean – hence the kids do the cleaning by themselves every Friday and within the week as punishment.

The absence of water on campus has led to pupils bringing drinking water from home in plastics and also carrying water from home and preserving to clean the classrooms on Friday. Friday is a general cleaning day hence pupils are assigned to different tasks and duties to keep their campus clean.

“Together let’s give our children a healthy environment for learning”

written by Zee Zita NKIMBENG

Read more about our Ecokids project!

My work in Potsdam

Being one of COMINSUD’s volunteers since October 2016, I am currently serving a volunteer year in Potsdam, Germany under the Weltwärts programme through Bread for the World, a German based organization.

Della in her office in Potsdam

Della in her office in Potsdam

I live and work in Potsdam which is about 27 kilometres from Berlin, Germany’s capital city. I work with ‘Stiftung für Engagement und Bildung’ which is a non profit making organisation founded in 2009. Over the years they have carried out projects involving African partners.

I started my work with this organization on the 4th of September 2017 which will last until August 2018.

Interestingly enough, I am assisting the project staff in one of the ongoing projects ‘Fair Smartphones’ which is aimed at implementing 10 workshops mainly with pupils between 14-15 years old on the topic ‘Living with Smartphones’.

In these workshops, the production, final sale and disposal of smartphones along side related environmental consequences are talked about. The aim is to discuss approaches to how their own actions as young people can help improve the situations on a regional and global scale.

There are other ongoing projects covering other topics like the refugee crisis with the target group of mostly young people aged between 12 & 25 years old. Every staff is encouraged to work on new project ideas which are developed into project proposals used to seek funding for execution as previously done with older and ongoing projects.

The language barrier and some differences in the working style are some of the challenges I am coping with. Also in the upcoming months as my German gets better, I will be involved in more project outdoor activities which I will love to share with you as they unfold.

With 9-10 more months to go, I am positive and looking forward to more challenging and exciting experiences together with my colleagues here at ‘Stiftung für Engagement und Bildung’. This is a one in a lifetime experience.

Written by Bii-Mai Della Kuma (26 years old)

Consider the consequences – peace journalism and election reporting

On Friday, the 21st of July, COMINSUD was invited to participate in a workshop lead by Professor Steven Youngblood from the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University (United States) in the Presbytarian Church Centre Bamenda.

During the workshop media representatives from the region were introduced to principles of peace journalism. Past experiences of Professor Youngblood were connected to election reporting from countries like India, Kenya and Uganda. Through these examples the importance of media coverage was proven and debates on current situation were initiated.

Comparison with journalists from Yaoundé proved that the risks of election provoked violence is seen as much more likely in the Anglophone part of Cameroon. Even more importantly, the workshop served as a platform for bringing together journalists and civil society representatives in order to work together on upcoming 2018 election reporting strategies. This will become a crucial cooperation next year for mitigating the possible risks of violence and lack of transparency all through the election process.

More information on the series of workshops held by Professor Youngblood in Cameroon (Yaounde, Bafoussam, Bamenda, Limbe, Buea etc.) and his impressions can be found here:

written by Krišjānis Liepa

All animals are equal, but …

… some are more equal than the others.” 15 Children listen anxiously to Akumbu Jones, an artist from “La Liberté Arts Group” Bamenda. He is telling them part of the “Animal Farm” story from George Orwell.

“Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers.”

Mr Akumbu is the leader of our latest initiative “Theater for Children”.

Cameroon provides very little opportunities for children to be creative, use their imagination and be allowed to try things and make errors without the fear to be punished. Most schools including nursery schools provide only a very formal learning program, mostly focusing on reading, writing, repeating. All this goes along with high competition/ranking systems inside the classes, strict hierarchy, humiliation, exams after every year and still – although officially banned – corporal punishment.

Many Children have difficulties to express themselves, their opinions/feelings or to discuss their points of view. But all this are skills that the next generation needs to work towards change in the society, towards good governance and democracy. With our initiative we want to contribute to build up these skills. And for sure, the children should have a lot of fun in a relaxed atmosphere!

Enough fun for everybody!

Parents appreciate the program very much. “My daughter was so happy after the theater; she was singing new songs and dancing the whole evening.” – one mother stated.

Another parent said: “My son explained to me the new game ‘Mami Njanga’, I was surprised how exited he was about this little thing.”

Stay with us – we will keep you informed about the next exiting news from the theater group.

written by Maja Mueller

The cows have destroyed my corn!

… this is how Dennis, a farmer from Wum, complaint last week to a herder.

The North West Region of Cameroon is also known as the “Grasslands”. This Grassland encouraged cattle farmers (Mbororo/Fulani/Haussa) to settle down in the area. Some of the herders are from other areas and enter the grasslands during transhumance. This leads to a lot of conflicts between the herders and crop farmers. Cattle enter farms and destroy corn, beans and other crops from the farmers. Herders need access to water and need to pass through certain areas to reach their resting points or the next grazing land.

One of the hotspots for farmer-grazer conflicts is Wum in Menchum Division. Last October we have trained people from Wum and other communities in “Peace work and conflict analysis” to work as Peace Volunteers (PVs).

Mr. Awah (crop farmer) complaining about the damage in his farm to Mr. Umaru (herder).

During the first follow-up visit we got a lot of encouraging and interesting information about the peace work in Wum.

After a challenging period of advocacy and lobbying done by the PVs, the Traditional Council adopted “Rules and Regulations” for the handling of conflicts.

Such document did not exist before. People in conflict used to lay their complaints in different places like police offices, the village councils, or different government delegations, some went straight to court. The financial implications of this approach were very high and solutions often not provided. Some of those conflicts escalated violently and resulted in injuries of persons, or damage of farms/animals.

The newly established “Rules and Regulations” were made public in all quarters of Wum. People with conflicts have to follow now a certain order to get resolution of their conflicts. For this reason seven new quarter councils were formed. If the quarter councils cannot solved the problem, it must be taken first to the village council before it can be taken to the traditional council. One important step in the new procedures is that the damage must be inspected at the site, before any further discussion can take place.

Surprisingly the new approach led to a drop down in the number of councilors. Achuo Patrick (PV) says: “Only the honest people remain now in the village and traditional councils. The new procedure is transparent for everybody, so that the opportunity to take bribe is heavily reduced.”

Huseini Adamu (PV) adds: “People have increased the number of “Farming Alliances”. Crop farmers allow cattle to eat the remains of e.g. corn in their farms, which is a valuable feed for cows. The farmers benefit from the cow droppings that are manure for the farms.”

The next idea of the PVs from Wum is to develop a drama to show how the new approach helps to reduce escalation of conflicts and to increase the livelihood of people.

We will keep you informed!

written by Maja Mueller

Winter work in Germany – experiences from Ewokolo

My workplace is called Hoffnungstaler Stiftung Lobetal which is a social welfare organisation. The organisation offers assistance and support for around 950 handicapped people in fully residential, semi-residential and ambulatory forms of accommodation.

At the beginning I was working at the handicap center of the organization. After the first month my program was adjusted so now I work both on the organic farm with cows and also in the handicap center. I do both because the first month I was at the handicap center it was surprisingly nice to be with these people and they are lovely.

I work on the organic farm with about 200 cows (pregnant cows and calves too). The main activities include feeding the cows (different food depending on the ages of the cows), cleaning the cow barn, assisting the pregnant cows with and after birth and milking.

2016-11_ewokolo01 2016-11_ewokolo02Since winter is coming, the work on the field is over for now but when winter is over and the planting season begins, I will join to work on the field (if possible begin learning how to drive a tractor!)

In the handicap center called Kapernaum Tagesförderbereich, the main activity is doing creative arts with materials like clay, wood, paper, glue, wool and plastic. We also sing together, bake cakes, take a walk and do sports together. It is really a good experience for me seeing how much people with disabilities can do with their hands.

written by Nangoh Ewokolo Nanyongo

The making of an article for a web site

To stay in contact with you, one of our more than 4000 annual visitors. COMINSUD did her second workshop on article writing. We believe that everybody who knows how to read and write can also write an article for a website! The most important is your to presence at the event you are writing about.

These articles are intended to keep you well informed about our activities. The training was followed by the five volunteers of COMINSUD.

Sharon, Della, Lucas, Gina and Durell discussing about headlines

Sharon, Della, Lucas, Gina and Durell discussing about headlines

At the end the volunteers had to start writing articles themselves. So keep on following us and find out how we (the volunteers) are coping with the new challenge!

written by Lucas Baeyens

My first 2 days as a volunteer at COMINSUD

I started my volunteer activities at COMINSUD on the 10th of November 2016. Upon my arrival I was welcomed by the coordinator for COMINSUD. I and the COMINSUD workers started the day by cleaning the offices of COMINSUD.This helps to portray the level of cleaning responsibility of the COMINSUD workers.

At about 9:30 am a meeting was organized cheered by Mr Bruno who briefed everybody about the agenda of the week and continued with an opening prayer from Ms Sharon. It was proceed by discussion about current event happening of the previous week such as president Biya’s 34th anniversary as president of Cameroon, the train derailment at Esseka that left more than 500 persons wounded and 70 deaths etc.

Both volunteers and COMINSUD workers also reported a summary of work done during the previous week in the domains like Ecokids project, report on privatization and environmental impacts on Ndu Cameroon, and the training of peace volunteers and everybody outlined his plan of work for the current week.

After the meeting, we received lectures on a COMINSUDs demonstration during the Global Handwashing Day. I was also briefed on how to start working on youth and business development. During my second day, were taught on how to write articles to be pasted on the COMINSUD’s website.

One can conclude that COMINSUD has also an objective of training its volunteers to become effective workers of NGO’S and agents for other developmental purposes.

written by Mokom Durell

2016 Training of Peace Volunteers

The Civil Peace Service (CPS) Unit of COMINSUD hosted 26 volunteers from five different communities of Mezam Division for a training workshop on “Peace Work and Conflict Analysis”.
First part in this training was clarify and define key words that are very often used but not well reflected on like peace, violence, and conflict.
Angwafo Peter suppored the trainng as a ressource person, presenting the Mankon peace approach

Angwafo Peter from the Mankon Palace supported the trainng as a resource person, presenting the Mankon peace approach

Second part was to analyze conflict examples within the participants communities. Therefore we used tools like the conflict history and actors mapping, the onion model, and the ABC triangle. Based on this analysis participants could see the angles from which a conflict could be tackled.
Looking for entry point for the conflict between graziers and farmers in Wum

Looking for entry point for the conflict between graziers and farmers in Wum

 Most of the conflicts we have in the North West Region are about boundaries and natural resources. Since some participants came from two communites in conflict the workshop was also a good opportunity to see, how your neighbours look at the same issue.

Discussion with trainees from Bambalang

Maja discussing with trainees from Bambalang

At the end of the training, certificates were awarded to our new Peace Volunteers and we are looking forward to see their achievements in the next months.

Participant with facilitators Maja Mueller, Ambe Bruno and Fon Nsoh

Participant with facilitators Maja Mueller, Ambe Bruno and Fon Nsoh

 written by Bii Della and Maja Mueller

International day for disaster reduction

41 key stakeholders including:members of the Regional Committee on Risk management, Municipal Council Officials, Administrators, Media practitioners and  Civil Society activist who hold responsibility in civil protection and disaster management in the North West Region, have participated in a one day Reflection Workshop on Peace and Disaster Reduction in Mezam Division.
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Cross section of some participants

The workshop which took place at the Presbyterian Church Centre, Bamenda on Thursday 13th of October 2016 was organised by the North West Regional Committee on Risk Management in collaboration with Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD), and was presided at, by the Secretary General at the North West Governor’s Office and Focal Point for the North West Region in the National Observatory on risk Management.

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Secretary General at the Governors office and Coordinator of COMINSUD At the workshop

The Coordinator of COMINSUD- Mr.Fon Nsoh in His opening statement situated the theme of the workshop within the Civil Peace Service Initiative (CPS) wherein the culture of peace is perceived as a vital pre-requisite for human and community development in the North West Region and makes a link between reducing Inter tribal Conflict sand related disasters to promoting a Culture of Peace. The address also dwelled on the lack of sensitivity to disaster by many Councils and the need for creating a system of respond.
In situating the state of Disasters, Civil Protection and Disaster Management in the North West Region alongside the Roles and Functioning of the Regional Disaster Risk Management System,the Secretary General at the North West Governors office in his keynote address stressed on the need to reflect on disaster Reduction while encouraging municipal Councillors and mayors present to establish  Municipal Alert System.
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M.Ambe Bruno-workshop facilitator,presents different forms of disaster

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The workshop was articulated around panel discussions, presentations and exchanges of
experiences on; the state of Disasters, Civil Protection and Disaster Management in the North West Region,the Roles and Functioning of the Regional Disaster Risk Management System and its link with other actors, The role of actors (Red Cross, Army Rescue Unit, GIS) in disaster management,Recommendations and the Elaboration of a model Prototype of a Municipal Disaster Alert

At the end of he workshop the representatives from the North West Governor’s Office resolved to send out circulars to all councils instructing them to create functional Disaster Management Units at the Councils meanwhile mayors and representatives of councils in attendance made decisions to take responsibility for the creation of framework conditions that will bring villages/communities with intertribal conflicts to settle their differences in order to avoid disasters from violent conflicts.

 By Ngobesing Linda