Historic action by Oku and Mbessa Communities in seeking peace

As an aftermath of the peaceful public manifestation walk by over 250 Mbessa a high level consultative peace meeting was held on March 3rd 2016 at the Mbessa Multipurpose Hall.

This meeting had amongst others the Senior Divisional Officers (SDOs) of Bui and Boyo (Nzeki Theophile and Oum II Joseph), the Mayors and Divisional Officers (DOs) of Oku and Belo, the Fons of Oku and Mbessa Villages and a cream of members of their traditional councils.

The historic nature of this meeting is seen in the fact that, in over 30 years, this is the first time a Fon of Oku is visiting the Mbessa Village. The over three hours meeting witnessed frank and open discussions aimed at establishing sustainable peace. Four of COMINSUD’s Peace Volunteers were also able to participate.

Key resolutions from this meeting as agreed by all the stakeholders were that:

  • The people in the disputed land boundary area should shun violence and remain calm for the governor and a regional technical team that will visit the area in the period ahead to demarcate the boundaries of the two communities;
  • More exchange visits between the Oku and Mbessa communities will be carried out to ensure continuous dialogue and sustainable peace;
  • Necessary traditional rites should be carried out by the Fons to enforce peaceful decisions and dialogue.

It is hoped that more efforts will be put to bear for more socio-cultural exchange activities among these communities for sustainable peace as the demarcation process is awaited.

Stay with us to be informed about the progress of this story.

Ndu identity – a foe or blessing?

“The population often goes hungry because more than 1500 hectares of land has been occupied by the CTE”

On 26th February 2016, COMINSUD facilitated a joint study of the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM), the International Land Coalition (ILC), and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Ndu on gender tools and large scale investment in Cameroon. The event was attended by 30 persons particularly from the areas affected by the large scale Ndu Cameroon Tea Estate (CTE) with the goal of identifying meaningful community engagement in Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa (LSLBI).

This session cued in from previous studies in Senegal and Zimbabwe and also Nkoteng in Cameroon on 23rd February 2016 led by the National Engagement Strategy on Land Reform (NES) in Cameroon.

Taking Ndu as one of two case studies in Cameroon, the participants gave the following answers (list of only the main answers) to two major questions:

1. What are the challenges you face as inhabitants of Ndu who live around the CTE?

  • Ndu Council does not receive and has not been receiving taxes for many years
  • the Fon (highest traditional leader of the community) is not paid royalties contrary to the privatization law of Cameroon
  • farmers are forbidden to cross through the plantation to access their own land, this leads to very difficult accessibility and rotting and loss to farm produce
  • more than 75 % of Ndu youths have fled the village due to unemployment and the threats of life from security guards of the CTE
  • the population often goes hungry because more than 1500 hectares of land has been occupied by the CTE making farm land to be inadequate and barren due to no time for fallowing to take place
  • Burning and looting of small holder’s tea plantations

2. If an investor decides to carry out an investment that requires a vast usage of land in your community, what conditions will you give him/her?

  • The investor would state clearly that he/she will rent the land on a contract base renewable over a period of time
  • He/she will pay constant royalty to the Fon
  • He/she will employ more than 75 % of the inhabitants (both men and women)
  • The gender component must be taken in to consideration
  • Employed inhabitants of the community must head at least 50 % the positions of leadership in the plantation

At the close of discussions, the participants lamented that they are like strangers in their own community. That is why they questioned whether their identity as natives of Ndu is a blessing or curse to their lives. Looking at them as a drowning man who catches at the tail of a snake for survival, the participants look up at NES CAMEROON and partners as a great contributor to hope.

It is hoped that data collected will serve as a veritable tool for an in depth study of these challenges and for further lobbying and advocacy activities for the benefit of the suffering population.

Presentation of position paper on land reforms

COMINSUD is member of the civil society working groupon the on-going land reform in Cameroon. This group was established as one of the organs of the “National Engagement Strategy on Land governance in Cameroon” (NES), and is made up of nine independent experts and representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs), networks and platforms who have valuable experiences on land policy issues.

15-02-27The working group presented the “Position Paper on land reforms in Cameroon” on the 23./24.02.2015 in Yaounde to the Prime Ministers Office, to the Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (MINEP), to the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF), to the Ministry of Economy, Planning and regional Development and to the  Ministry of Land Tenure (MINCAF).