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.

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