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

Evaluation of Public Policy in Cameroon

“What is the role of the population and CSOs in the evaluation of Public Policy in Cameroon and at what point do they come in?”

It was in a bid in seeking strategies in enhancing civil and political rights that Ambe Michel Bruno C. (COMINSUD) attended a capacity building seminar for Civil Society Organisations and Political Parties on the theme “Follow up and Evaluation of Public Policy within the framework of the Implementation of Civil and Political Rights in Cameroon”.

Joining other 35 participants across the Nation, this seminar organised by the Human Rights Commission of the Cameroon Bar, held in Kribi on November 17th and 18th 2016, was focused on strengthening the state of law in Cameroon supported by an active civil society involvement in monitoring and evaluating public policies in Cameroon especially related to the respect of civil and political rights.

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Drilled on the steps and tools in monitoring and valorisation of results of evaluation exercises to stimulate change and action from government for the respect of human rights, COMINSUD as a rights promotion organisation and as the North West Regional Coordinator of RECODH was given the opportunity to share her experience in rights promotion and protection alongside her efforts in strengthening the respect of the rights of freedom of assembly and public demonstration in the North West Region.

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Ambe M. Bruno C. sharing COMINSUDs experiences in Public Policy Evaluation and civil rights protection

Key among the recommendations of the seminar were:

  1. Strengthening of the role of non state actors in the process of conception, implementation, and evaluation of public policies in Cameroon in a general manner and specifically in the domain of civil and political rights.
  2. Strengthening of the powers and prerogatives of parliamentarians in the process of evaluation of public policies in Cameroon.
  3. The amelioration of the legal framework guiding freedom of public assembly and public demonstration in Cameroon to avoid potential public disorder.

written by Ambe Michel Bruno C.

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