About COMINSUD

Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD) is an organisation dedicated to sustainable development in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. COMINSUDs main office is located in Ntarinkon but she works throughout the North West Region to improve the lives and livelihoods of Cameroonians. Focusing on projects and programs of democracy, women's empowerment and good governance, COMINSUD aims to work with rural communities towards a better and more sustainable future.

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

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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