Social sustainability in Africa: The case of Cameroon Ayamba Bisong Margaret

Social sustainability in Africa: The case of Cameroon  Ayamba Bisong Margaret
Social sustainability in Africa:
The case of Cameroon
Ayamba Bisong Margaret
School of Engineering
Blekinge Institute of Technology
Karlskrona, Sweden
2005
Thesis submitted for completion of Master of Strategic Leadership towards
Sustainability, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden.
Abstract:
The aim of this research is to examine how Africa can become a socially sustainable
society by the year 2030 using a strategic leadership approach with Cameroon as a case
study. Using a generic and whole systems view, the study would examine the possibility
of a transition from a socially un-sustainable society to sustainable society.
The study analyses the current political, economic, social and environmental operations
that undermines people’s ability to meet their basic needs. It also highlights some of the
strengths and opportunities of the Cameroonian society that can help accelerate this
transition. Threats and weaknesses are also identified and correctives measures are
proposed. Agriculture and social capacity building amongst others stand out as prominent
opportunities which could be use to further strategic progress towards sustainability.
The study concludes that, with a well defined vision, it is possible for Cameroon to
strategically progress towards a socially sustainable society.
Keywords:
Socially, sustainable, strategic, leadership, Africa and Cameroon
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Acknowledgements
My utmost thanks goes to the Almighty GOD for his constant guidance and protection
throughout this period of study.
My sincere gratitude goes to my supervisor, Mrs Sophie Byggeth and co- supervisor, Mr
Henrik Ny whose guidance and advice have been very instrumental in the final
realisation of this work.
My immense appreciations also go to all the lecturers in the Department of Strategic
Leadership Towards Sustainability especially Karl Henrik-Robèrt, David Waldron,
I am also greatly indebted to the authors whose books I consulted.
Lastly, I wish to give special thanks to my parents, brothers and sisters; Mr and Mrs
Bisong, Sylvia, Emelda, Nyenty, Ethel, Manyo, Nkongho, Vanessa, Junior, and Auntie
Bertha whose financial and moral support helped me in the realisation of this work.
My friends and classmates also deserve special thanks for their support and collaboration:
Gerald Muchu, Laura Mackay, Ann scheerer, Tomomi Takada, Benny Sindowe, Heather
Worosz and Scott Grierson. My gratitude also go to my friends Bertha Akum, Ivo
lekunze, Patrick Tanyi, Harriet Viberg, Mr and Mrs Larsson, for their support and
encouragement.
.
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Executive Summary
This research examines how Africa can become a socially sustainable society by the year
2030.
My choice of Cameroon is due to the fact that Cameroon is known as “Africa in
Miniature”, therefore Cameroon’s problems are very valid for Africa.
The statement of research problems were based on an evaluation of the violation of the
four principles of sustainability. It was discovered that the violation of the fourth
sustainability principle is especially alarming. Problems stemming from such violation
are poverty and starvation, political instability, security risks, political abuse, economic
abuse and environmental abuse. The research questions for this study were; a) In what
ways do communities in Cameroon impact humans capacity to meet their needs? b) What
are the obstacles in meeting these needs? c) What are the existing opportunities in
meeting these needs? d) What are some first steps to be taken by these communities to
move towards sustainability?
In response to this, the stated hypotheses to be tested were; a) Political, social and
environmental abuse has obstructed people’s ability to meet their needs in communities
of Cameroon, b) The inability of people to organise themselves into effective social
structures inhibits the capacity of meeting needs and c) The destruction of the cultural
fabric has lead to constraints to social cohesion which has in turn undermined the
capacity of people to meet their needs. Furthermore, the main methods used during this
study consisted of a strategic sustainability plan for Cameroon using backcasting from
principles, literature review and case studies.
The second section of this study consisted of a description of the Continent of Africa,
Cameroon, and an analysis of the 9 distinct basic needs by the Chilean Economists
Manfred Max-Neef.
The Strategic sustainability plan revealed un-sustainable practices in the political,
economic, social and environmental spheres. A look at the political, economic and social
structure and the environment reveals that features such as fear, violence,
marginalization, hyperinflation, huge external debt, unemployment, capital flight,
corruption and misappropriation, frustration and environmental degradation are apparent
in the society. These features serve as political, socio-economic and environmental
abuses and stand as a stumbling block for people meeting their needs in the Cameroon
society thereby degrading the social “fabric”. From the above, Political, economic, sociocultural and environmental obstacles to meeting human needs in the Cameroonian
communities were listed such as
discrimination, marginalization, materialism,
unemployment, embezzlement, capital flight, lack of freedom of expression, freedom of
association, freedom of movement, lack of equal opportunities for both sexes and equal
protection, over exploitation of natural resources, application of unsustainable fertilizers
and pesticides, and over harvesting of food sources respectively. More so, a Swot
analysis for Cameroon was also done, bringing out the strengths and opportunities against
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the weaknesses and threats. Also included in this study was an analysis on an improved
agriculture for a sustainable Cameroon.
In addition to the above, a structured sustainable vision of success for Cameroon was
suggested and some measures which will move Cameroon strategically towards
sustainability were proposed. Later, in the study, these proposed measures were
prioritized using 3 key prioritization questions.- Is it going in the right direction, does it
have a flexible platform, does it have a return on investment. This section involves a step
by step approach towards the three constituent elements to social sustainability, the
launching of “flexible platform” and the continuous feeding of required resources into the
process while at the same time incorporating the golden rule1 as the generic guiding
principle for analysis and scrutiny.
Here agriculture was identified as one of the opportunities which could be used as a great
advantage to forward progress towards a sustainable society. One other prominent aspect
was social capacity building. Building social capacity in communities is an important
aspect which accelerates sustainable development. Capacity building is an essential step
and a strategic element that will help create social change towards sustainability in the
communities of Cameroon. Reference was made of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya
and Seeds of Change of India as an inspiration to the communities of Cameroon.
Finally, the following recommendations were given:
• Politically, there should be the implementation of both ‘bottom-up’ and ‘topdown’ strategies to favour active participation of all those concerned in open
negotiations, transparent decision-making mechanisms, and the formulation of
urban-management policies.
• There should be the use of a strategic approach towards governance and
management of Communities action-oriented projects on sustainable and
integrated urban-development strategies geared towards a participatory approach
and the revitalization of communities, training and capacity building.
• Efforts should be made to improve agriculture in Cameroon. Sustainable
agriculture will greatly reduced unemployment, encouraged international trade
and improved social services in the country.
• Social capacity building programs through education should be instituted and
encouraged.
If these recommendations are implemented, it could accelerate strategic change towards
sustainability. This study exemplifies how new challenges in the social arena
continuously emerge that require a dynamic adaptation of the current strategies. For
Cameroon to become a socially sustainable society, it has to meet up with today’s
challenges while at the same time moving strategically towards sustainability.
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The golden rule is built on human capability for empathy. It encompasses participation, transparency,
responsibility, accountability and honesty.
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Table of Contents
1 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 8
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.1
1.6
Statement of Research problem ........................................................................ 10
Funnel ............................................................................................................... 11
Objectives of study ........................................................................................... 12
Research Questions........................................................................................... 12
Hypotheses........................................................................................................ 13
Limitations ........................................................................................................ 13
Research Methodology ..................................................................................... 13
2 Investigations .............................................................................................................. 14
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
Description of Africa ........................................................................................ 14
Description of Cameroon.................................................................................. 15
Definition of a community................................................................................ 17
Human Needs.................................................................................................... 18
3 ABCD Analysis of Cameroon.................................................................................... 20
3.1
3.2
Workflow of ABCD.......................................................................................... 20
The A step-Awareness ...................................................................................... 21
3.2.1 Envisioning a sustainable Cameroon ............................................................ 21
3.3
The B Step: Finding sustainability present problems ....................................... 22
3.3.1 Social Problems (Sustainability principles 4) ............................................... 22
3.3.2 Summary of obstacles in meeting needs and preserving the ecosystem....... 29
3.4
The C-step-Finding measures towards sustainability ....................................... 32
3.4.1 Political measures ......................................................................................... 32
3.4.2 Economic Measures ...................................................................................... 33
3.4.3 Social Measures ............................................................................................ 34
3.4.4 Environmental measures............................................................................... 34
3.5
The D-step: Prioritization and planning............................................................ 35
3.5.1 Prioritization of measures ............................................................................. 35
4 The sustainability vision in practice ......................................................................... 40
4.1
Sustainability problems in the agricultural sector............................................. 40
4.1.1 Background ................................................................................................... 40
4.1.2 Problems ....................................................................................................... 41
4.1.3 Solution ......................................................................................................... 44
4.2
Improvements through Social Capacity Building............................................. 44
4.2.1 Justification for social capacity..................................................................... 44
4.2.2 Case studies for social Capacity ................................................................... 45
4.2.3 Solution for social capacity building ............................................................ 45
5 Discussion.................................................................................................................... 47
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
Strengths ........................................................................................................... 49
Weaknesses ....................................................................................................... 50
Opportunities..................................................................................................... 50
Threats............................................................................................................... 50
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6 Conclusion................................................................................................................... 54
7 Recommendations ...................................................................................................... 55
7.1
7.2
7.3
7.4
Government....................................................................................................... 55
Industry ............................................................................................................. 56
Government and industries together ................................................................. 57
Community ....................................................................................................... 57
8 Issues for further research ........................................................................................ 58
References........................................................................................................................ 59
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List of Figures and Tables
Table 2.1. Matrix of needs and satisfiers .......................................................................... 18
Table 3.1. Obstacles in meeting needs in Cameroon ........................................................ 31
Table 3.2. Prioritization of Measures................................................................................ 35
Table 3.3. Matrix of Sustainability principles showing the objectives, violations and
solutions to unsustainable practices in Cameroon. ................................................... 38
Table 5.1. The SWOT Analysis........................................................................................ 51
Figure 1.1. Resource funnel shows current reality, where societal margin for action
narrows...................................................................................................................... 11
Figure 1.2. Increase of human demand on ecological systems......................................... 12
Figure 2.1. Map of Africa ................................................................................................. 14
Figure 2.2. Map Of Cameroon.......................................................................................... 17
Figure 4.1. Cycle of biophysical and socio-economic processes causing ecosystem degradation. .......... 43
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1 Introduction
Sustainability is about the creation of new ways to live and prosper while ensuring an
equitable, healthy future for all people and the planet. Sustainability in simple terms
means preserving human life on Earth. In the terms of the 1987 Brundtland Report [1]
sustainable development is is a development that "Meets the needs of the present
generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." In
fact addressing human needs is an essential element for creating a sustainable society and
therefore also for maintaining human life on earth.
In this thesis the principles2 given below are used as a definition of sustainability [2].
According to this definition, there are four scientific principles that lead to a sustainable
society. These principles, also known as “system conditions" must be met in order for us
to have a sustainable society. The first three principles give a frame for ecological
sustainability while the fourth principle describe the condition for social sustainability
and this one is equally important since the societal use of resources must be efficient and
fair enough to meet basic human needs worldwide. The principles are;
In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing:
1. concentrations of substances extracted from the earth's crust;
2. concentrations of substances produced by society;
3. degradation by physical means
and, in that society. . .
4. people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity
to meet their needs.
These principles provide an overall principle description of a sustainable society, and
allows an analysis of present activities as well as of solutions and visions, from a
sustainability perspective. The four sustainability principles are shown in relation to the
natural cycles and human society as an integrated system where flows are balanced and
“leftover matter” does not increase in concentration in nature. These principles can be
used as a frame for finding strategies for sustainable development. They have
successfully been translated in to objectives and guidelines for the individual, firm or
municipality. [3], [4] . They describe the goals for sustainable development and define a
certain favourable outcome in the ecosphere/societal system [5]. I am going to backcast
from basic principles of sustainability3. Backcasting from basic principles differs from
backcasting from scenarios. Backcasting from scenarios is a planning methodology built
2
These principles are also called system conditions for a sustainable society. For example when used by
The Natural Step. These principles are referred to as “principles” in this thesis”.
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on envisioning a picture of what a sustainable society might look like and then looking
back at the present from this ideal future. Backcasting from basic principles on the other
hand does not try to prescribe what a sustainable society might look like, rather, the intent
is to define conditions (sustainability principles) that must be met in a sustainable society.
This open up for credibility in how to comply with the principles, so there are many
possible future sustainable societies. In this thesis I want to backcast from a vision of a
socially sustainable Cameroon in One generation by 2030.l return to backcasting from
basic principles later in this thesis.
The system conditions specify how to avoid the destruction of the biosphere by adding a
negation to the basic mechanisms for destruction. Together, these first three basic
principles provide a mechanistic framework for ecological sustainability that implies a set
of restrictions within which a fourth condition can be formulated- that human needs must
be met. The whole creative tension then evolves from imagining a future where the
global social fabric is capable of meeting human needs within ecological constraints [6].
This thesis focuses on the fourth sustainability principle because in order to comply with
the first three sustainability principles, one obviously must rely on people and their social
fabric. Taking in to consideration the bad state of the social fabric in Cameroon, I thought
it wise to start with the fourth sustainability principle. However, some issues related to
the first three sustainability principles are so demanding that they cannot wait. These
issues ought to be turned into opportunities to gather people around while moving
successfully towards progress. Some examples are biodiversity loss, ecosystem
degradation, over extraction of metal, over harvesting of resources and unsustainable
agriculture. More details will be provided later in this thesis.
Social sustainability is covered by the fourth sustainability principle and it focuses on the
importance of meeting human needs worldwide. Four core elements of social
sustainability are; a) the safeguarding of existence for all members of society, b) the
maintenance and development of social resources c) equal opportunities concerning
access to resources d) participation within social decision processes.
According to [7]., there are 9 distinct basic needs that every society has to fulfill for its
members to remain healthy socially, physically and mentally and these needs are
subsistence, idleness, understanding, protection, creativity, identity, participation,
affection, and freedom. Social sustainability stipulates the using of all our resources
efficiently, fairly and responsibly so that the needs of all people on whom we have an
impact and the future need of people who are not yet born stand the best chance of being
met.
The human social system (social fabric) stands as a fundamental condition to meeting
human needs and the 3 key attributes or fundamental constituents suggested by David
Cook for every social system are people’s interdependence on one another, people’s
capacity for self organization to be constructive parts of the system, and their diversity
that empowers the system[8]. Social sustainable development is about moving relatively
carefully towards a social sustainability goal. Social Sustainable Development for local
communities is a development which is compatible with the harmonious evolution of
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civil society, fostering an environment conductive to the compatible contribution of
culturally and socially diverse groups while at the same time encouraging social
integration with improvements in the quality of life of all people. It is also about the
development of programs and processes that promote social interaction and cultural
enrichment with emphasis on protecting the vulnerable and respecting social diversity.
1.1 Statement of Research problem
This research work is about how Africa can become a socially sustainable society by the
year 2030 using a strategic leadership approach with Cameroon as the Case study.
There is violation of all four principles of sustainability in every African country [9]. This
is due to the administration and formulation of policies. However, the violation of the
fourth sustainability principle is especially alarming [10]. Some of the problems that stem
from the violation of these principles (with emphasis on the fourth principle) includes
poverty and starvation, wars, corruption, political instability, security risks, political
abuse, economic abuse and environmental abuse. These problems go a long way to
degrade the social fabric thus leading to un-sustainability. I believe these problems stand
as a challenge and a change of behaviour is needed for us to reach sustainability.
The interest of the study can be observed from two perspectives. From the scientific
perspective, this work is centred around many disciplines such as ecology, systems
thinking (planning in complex systems), political science, social science, and this shows
that the problem in communities are not only for the social sciences but interests all
disciplines. From the sustainability perspective, the social system within communities
presents opportunities for people meeting their needs. This is the reason why several
human groups like NGO´s and small business can be found there. However, an
uncontrolled abuse of social systems in these communities can lead to its degradation
both socially and physically. We should therefore maintain the social and natural
potentials of these communities if we want to achieve a sustainable society and promote
long lasting development. This is only possible if we take the question of the
environment into consideration, in the different maintenance policies of regions.
“If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and
resources depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime
within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and
uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity” Meadows [11].
The social and environmental consequences of socialist and capitalist growth models
have generated skepticism and distrust in the global community [12]. However the price
of this growth path is becoming evident as global awareness is spreading of the non
negotiability of socio-ecological sustainability. The neoclassical economic model,[13]
and its associate’s concentration of power in the hands of a few has led to unbalances and
crises. The gap between the rich and poor, both in rich and poor nations alike has
widened as the hopes of equalization that grew in the 1960 and 1970´s has faded.
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Environmentally, the planet is on the way to catastrophe. The inherited “Natural Capital”4
which was accumulated by the planet for over 3.8 billion years has been ignored. There
have been predictions that if we do not revert our present trends, not much will be left by
the end of this century. [14]
1.2 Funnel
From a broader perspective, society through irresponsible socio-economic activities is
pulling a lot of pressure on social and ecological systems and the situation is getting
worse with decreasing room for manoeuvres. This systematically worsening societal path
can be metaphorically illustrated with society moving into a closing window of
opportunity as seen in figure 1.
Figure 1.1. Resource funnel shows current reality, where societal margin for action
narrows
Combined with systems thinking [15], a “resource funnel paradigm 5, has the potential to
shift human society‘s paradigm. Sustainability is the fine art of balancing sustainable
supply and sustainable demand. Figures 2 illustrates that current industrialized
development has probably already suppressed sustainable limits. This comprehensive
plan provides the rationale for the claim that there is a possibility of hitting the walls of
the funnel soon if a strategic approach towards sustainability is not used. Cameroon is
4
Natural capital refers to the mineral, plant, and animal formations of the Earth's biosphere when viewed as
a means of production of oxygen, water filter, erosion preventer, or provider of other natural services.
According to Hawkens and lovins,natural capital refers to the natural resources and ecosystem services that
make possible all economic activity, indeed all life. These services are of immense economic value, some
are literally priceless, since they have no known substitutes. Yet, natural capital is being degraded and
liquidated by the wasteful use of such resources as energy, materials, water, fiber, and topsoil. Natural
Capitalism1999-2005, The Rocky Mountain Institute.
5
The resource funnel metaphor is used by The Natural Step
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often referred to as “Africa in miniature” I will show why I support this view and why the
problems in Cameroon are very valid for Africa. It is very important to note that for
Cameroon to be a Sustainable Society there is great need to adopt a strategic leadership
approach.
Figure 1.2. Increase of human demand on ecological systems [16.
1.3 Objectives of study
The study aimed at using a whole systems view and examining the possibility of a
transition from a socially unsustainable society towards a sustainable society. The
question is “what can Africa as a whole and Cameroon in particular do to become a
socially sustainable society? The approach is to have a vision of success and then using
backcasting from principles to strategically move towards this vision.
1.4 Research Questions
The previously highlighted issues clearly show that the current operations of Cameroon
today are unsustainable, a situation that is similar to many other countries in Africa. From
the above, the following research questions were developed:
1. In what ways do communities in Cameroon impact human’s capacity to meet their
needs?
a. What are the existing obstacles to meeting these needs?
b. What are the existing strong points in meeting these needs?
2. What are the potential future opportunities in meeting these needs?
3. What are the first steps to be taken by these communities to move towards
sustainability?
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1.5 Hypotheses
As a starting point, this thesis worked with the following hypotheses;
1. Political, social and environmental abuse has undermined people not to meet their
needs in communities of Cameroon.
2. The inability of people to organize themselves into effective social structures has
undermine their capacity to meeting their needs.
3. The destruction of the cultural fabric has lead to constraints to social cohesion
which has in turn undermined the capacity of people to meet their needs.
4. Sustainable agriculture and social capacity building within the Cameroonian
communities are strategic in meeting needs.
1.1 Limitations
This thesis took place during a 3 months period. Due to the limited time and financial
limits the main sources used were electronic, materials from reports, articles and
newspapers, which of course cannot be substituted for the value of direct human
interaction and field experience. Therefore, the data source can be improved, deepened or
widened.
1.6 Research Methodology
In order to achieve the above mentioned objectives a simple methodology was adopted,
as it was not possible to visit Cameroon to collect primary data. Therefore, this study
mostly relies on secondary data. The main sources of information, data and relevant
materials from reports, articles and newspapers were collected and information was also
received from Sustainable Development Initiative for Neem in Africa6. In addition to this,
my own experience was also used. In this way, the secondary data was collected and
used to complete this research paper.
Details of the research designs are therefore:
1. Literature Review covering electronic sources including case studies. The
literature sources were selected on the basis that they come from organisations
with good reputation for being trustworthy and having a goal that was in line with
the thesis goal- i.e. sustainability.
2. Making a strategic sustainability plan for Cameroon using backcasting from
principles.
6
Sustainable Development Initiative For Neem in Africa, a leading developmental N.G.O. in the area.
13
2 Investigations
2.1 Description of Africa
Africa is the second largest continent in size after Asia, and the third largest in population
next to Asia and Europe. Africa covers almost one fifth of the world's land mass and is
home to millions of the world's population. The population of Africa is over 700 million.
The variety of people that inhabit Africa reflect the nature of the continent. Africans
belong to a variety of racial, ethnic, language and religious groups. The continent
contains fifty-one independent countries and several other political units.
The World Book Encyclopedia described Africa as "a land of striking contrasts and great
natural wonders." It contains vast areas of tropical rain forests, great tree tops and
vegetation that shape into a "thick green canopy," the world's largest desert - the Sahara,
the world's longest river - the Nile, and a great variety of animals and plants, some of
which are native only to Africa (The World Bank).
Figure 2.1. Map of Africa
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2.2 Description of Cameroon
Situated in West Africa, in the bight of biafra, Cameroon is triangular in shape with an
area of about 183,567 square metres (475,440 sq km). It climate varies with terrain from
tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north. It has a population of about 16,063,678
(2004 estimate) with a growth rate of 2.0%, a birth rate of 3.5%, as infant mortality rate
of 6.9% and a life expectancy of 48 years. A coastal strip 10 to 50 metres (16-80 km)
wide in the southwest is covered with swamps and dense tropical rain forests; it has one
of the wettest climates in the world, with an average annual rainfall of 152 in. (386 cm)
on the coast. Near the coast are volcanic peaks, dominated by Mt. Cameroon (13,354
ft/4,070 m), the highest peak in the country. Beyond the coastal marshes and plains, the
land rises to a densely forested plateau of 1, 000 feet (300 m) above sea level. The
interior of the country is a plateau of 2, 500 to 4,000 ft (760-1,220 m) high, where forests
give way to savanna. This plateau forms a barrier between the agricultural south and the
pastoral north. The extreme northern regions, near Lake Chad, are dry thorn bush lands.
Among the many rivers that drain Cameroon are the Bénoué, the Wuori, the Sanaga, and
the Nyong. [17],
The country consists of the former French Cameroons and the southern portion of the
former British Cameroons. The French, or eastern, section constitutes four fifths of the
country and supports the bulk of the population. With about 250 ethnic groups,
Cameroon has one of the most diverse populations in Africa. Agriculture is the country's
economic mainstay, and it still contributes nearly a third of the country's gross domestic
product. The principal subsistence crops are bananas, cassava, yams, plantains, peanuts,
millet, and sorghum. (Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa)7
Cameroon is a unitary republic, multiparty presidential regime. Preponderance of power
remains with the president. Imbedded with tradition, as evidenced by its famed folklore,
art, music, and wide variety of family systems, Cameroon also integrates into its cultural
mix three colonial heritages: French, British, and German. Today, social and economic
developments are presenting unique challenges to Cameroon’s ethnic pluralism and
traditional lifestyles. French and English serve as the country's official languages, and
competition between speakers of each produces political conflict. Yet Cameroon is an
intricate tapestry of cultures in which people identify with societies that are defined by
local languages and customs. These customs are biomimic8 [18], in that their designs and
processes are inspired by nature and maintain a close relationship with nature. Over 100
native languages fall into three basic groups: the Sudanic languages of the north, the
Bantu languages of the south, and the semi-Bantu languages of the west. In the north the
primary ethnic groups are the Fulani and Kirdi, while in the more densely populated
7
Climate Change And Agriculture in Africa is an International Organization which projects are
implemented by the Agriculture and Rural Development Program, the World Bank Institute and the Africa
Region of the World Bank and executed by the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa
(CEEPA) of the University of Pretoria. Pretoria 0002 South Africa
http://www.ceepa.co.za/climate_change/index.html
8
Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these
designs and processes to solve human problems. Biomimicry was popularized by Janine Benyus.
15
south are the Bamileke, Bulu, Bamoun, Ewondo, Beti, Bassa, and Douala. The Douala
population also extends into the west along with the Bakweri and Tikar people of the
grasslands. Islam claims the allegiance of 15% of the population and the rest is divided
between Christianity and traditional African religions.
Every ethnic community has its own music and dances that form a vital part of local
customs. The chants and flute music of the northern region with its Sahelian influence
contrast with the abstract melodies of the rainforest pygmies in the far south.
The official residences of Cameroon's principal chiefs reveal other aspects of regional
distinctions. The Royal Palace of Foumban represents the loyalty that the Bamoun people
have offered to a single dynasty since the 14th century. A 19th-century ruler from this
dynasty, the sultan Njoya, devised an alphabet to record the Bamoun language and
chronicle the group's history. The chefferie de Bandjoun is the official residence of the
chief of the Bamileke people and is located near Bafoussam. This chefferie displays
traditional architecture with tall conical roofs made of straw supported by tall wooden
pillars carved with exuberant images. The Bamileke add bamboo walls woven in
geometric patterns. Just outside the capital, Yaounde, is a Benedictine monastery that
houses the Cameroon Museum of Art. This museum contains statues of bronze and wood,
as well as exquisite masks of wood, fiber, ivory, and bronze that serve a strong ritual
function and symbolize communication with the afterlife. In the north, at N'Gaoundere is
the Lamido Palace, seat of a Muslim sultan. Here too the buildings have conical straw
roofs, but the walls are of banco (mud brick) construction and are painted with colorful
designs. These different cultures serve as a strong cohesive force among the different
communities.
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Figure 2.2. Map Of Cameroon
Viewing Cameroon, within the biosphere provides a whole systems perspective in space
and time. Complex interconnections between the global, regional, national and local
systems, and the links between the short-term and the long-term, become visible.
The special features of the African environment act as an indicator of global
environmental impacts, such as socio-economic change. The world in general and
scientists in particular are only beginning to understand the profound significance of the
African Regions for environment, ecosystems and human society.
2.3 Definition of a community
A community can be defined as a group of people of any size whose members reside in a
specific locality and share resources needed to survive. It can be a small rural community
or a large metropolitan area. Size is not as important as understanding what all the 'shared
resources' consist of, including who else uses the shared communities. An important
aspect of communities is that they aim at achieving economic prosperity, social justice,
and ecological health - the highest possible quality of life in the best possible
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environment. In addition to the above, a community is important in that it contributes to
individual and social well being by establishing and maintaining channels of
communication, organizing resources to meet local needs, and providing a framework
where the collective is more than the sum of its parts [19].
We form groups and communities to enable us to meet our needs. The origin and purpose
of society including all it component parts like governments, laws, business
organizations, health care systems, schools, etc is to enable us meet these needs we also
build social relationships in order to meet both individual and collective needs. It has
been suggested that there are three characteristics of a social system and they include
Interdependence, self-organization and diversity [8].
2.4 Human Needs
The ultimate goal of every society is to meet individual human needs in the best possible
way. Needs are fundamental to the quality of life for all of us. There is a difference
between needs and satisfiers. Needs are the inborn universal requirements that need to be
satisfied in order for people to remain health physically, mentally and socially while
satisfiers are culture and context specific individual or collective ways of being, having,
doing and interacting in order to actualize needs. The nine basic needs proposed by
Manfred Max Neef are subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation,
idleness, creation, identity and freedom [7]. In Cameroon these needs can be met by
creating opportunities for people through the establishment of a free and fair democracy,
a good economic policy. These needs are all important and cannot be substituted for one
another. If one or several human need categories are not adequately satisfied, it leads to
human “poverty” in those categories. The needs are presented in matrix below.
Table 2.1. Matrix of needs and satisfiers [7].
Needs
according to
existential
categories
Subsistence
Protection
Affection
Being
Having
Doing
Interacting
Physical health,
mental health,
equilibrium, sense
of humour,
adaptability
Care, adaptability,
autonomy,
equilibrium,
solidarity
Food, shelter and
work
Feed, procreate,
rest, work
Living
environment,
social setting
Insurance systems,
saving, social
security, health
systems, rights,
family, work
Friendships,
families,
partnership,
relationship with
nature
Cooperate,
prevent, plan, take
care of, cure help
Living
environment,
social setting
Make love, caress,
express emotions,
share, take care of,
cultivate,
appreciate
Privacy, intimacy,
home, space of
togetherness
Self-esteem,
solidarity, respect,
tolerance,
generosity,
receptiveness,
passion
18
Understanding
Participation
Idleness
Creation
Identity
Freedom
determination,
sensuality, sense of
humour
Critical
conscience,
receptiveness,
curiosity,
astonishment,
discipline,
intuition and
rationality
Adaptability,
receptiveness,
solidarity,
willingness,
determination,
dedicate, respect,
passion
Curiosity,
receptiveness,
imagination,
recklessness, sense
of humour,
tranquillity,
sensuality
Passion,
determination,
intuition
Sense of
belonging,
consistency,
differentiation, self
esteem,
assertiveness
Autonomy, selfesteem,
determination,
passion,
assertiveness,
open-mindedness,
boldness,
rebelliousness,
tolerance
Literature,
teachers, method,
educational
policies,
communication
policies
Investigate, study,
experiment,
educate, analyze,
meditate
Rights,
responsibilities,
duties, privileges,
work
Become affiliated,
cooperate,
propose, share,
dissent, obey,
interact, agree on,
express opinion
Games, spectacles,
clubs, parties,
peace of mind
Daydream, brood,
dream, recall old
times, give away
to fantasies,
remember, relax,
have good fun,
play
Work, invent,
build, design
Abilities, skills,
method, work
Symbols,
language, religion,
habits, customs,
reference group,
sexually, values,
norms, historical,
memory, work
Equal rights
Commit oneself,
integrate oneself,
confront, decide
on, get to know
oneself, recognize
oneself, actualize
oneself, grow
Dissent, choose, be
different from, run
risk, develop
awareness, commit
oneself, disobey
Settings of
formative
interaction,
schools,
universities,
academies, group,
communities,
family
Setting of
participative
interaction, parties,
associations,
churches,
communities,
neighbourhoods,
family
Privacy, intimacy,
spaces of
closeness, free
time, surroundings,
landscapes
Productive and
feedback settings,
workshop, culture
Social rhythms,
everyday settings,
settings which one
belongs to,
maturation stages
Temporal/ spatial
plasticity
The column of “Being” registers personal and collective attributes. The column of
“Having” registers institutions, norms, mechanisms, tools, law. The column of “Doing”
registers personal and collective action. The column of “Interacting” registers locations
and milieus. Communities may be one of the best providers of conditions that satisfy
human needs because they contributes to individual and social well being by establishing
and maintaining channels of communication and organizing resources to meet local
needs.
19
3 ABCD Analysis of Cameroon
3.1 Workflow of ABCD
The Natural Step Foundation9, has in collaboration with universities and industry,
developed a framework, the ABCD analysis10, which is used by many governments and
municipalities and other organizations worldwide. [4], [20]. This framework involves
backcasting from a future of success. As previously mentioned, in backcasting from
Scenarios, future goals and objectives are defined and used to develop a future scenario
(Robinson, 1990). Sustainability principles on the other hand, were created to define the
minimum requirements that must apply in any sustainable society. Originally formulated
and described by Karl-Henrik Robèrt and John Holmberg[21]., they have been refined in
cooperation with an international network of renowned scientist into the four
sustainability principles previously stated above.
The ABCD process is a step by step method to build a strategy which provides a
systematic way of guiding the operations of each country or individual organization. The
ABCD analytical approach includes four elements: The A- step is awareness that is
having a better understanding of what is going on around us and being aware of the
bigger system within which our strategies operate. The B-step analyzes current operations
in terms of the four system conditions. This step involves an assessment of the current
situation conducted by listing all current flows and practices that are problematic from a
sustainability perspective, as well as considering all the assets that are in place to deal
with the problems. This allows for evaluation of performance. The C –step is creating a
vision of how your country will look like a sustainable society. The process of
backcasting helps to produce the answers. Solutions and visions for “tomorrow” are
created and listed by applying the constraints of the system conditions, to scrutinize
suggested solutions and trigger creativity. Finally, the D-step is down to action, where
there is setting and managing of priorities.
Priorities for action, new investment and new strategies are selected from the c-list above.
In this step, actions and changes that give identifiable and beneficial results are important
and decisions made can now be judged with a better understanding of the bigger system,
and with a vision of success to guide them towards sustainability. Finally measures from
the c-list are prioritized using the following three key questions;
1. Does this measure proceed in the right direction with respect to all system
conditions?
2. Does this measure provide a flexible platform for future improvements? and;
3. Is this measure likely to produce a sufficient return on investment to further
analyze this process?
9
The Natural Step is an international non-governmental organization founded in Sweden by Karl- Henrik
Robèrt.
10
The ABCD analysis is a strategic tool in the TNS framework.
20
Measure that answers “yes” to all three questions provide the strategic element of the
methodology. It is important to note that each suggested investment is scrutinized for its
potential to i) move towards sustainability, ii) serve a flexible platform, and iii) bring
financial resources to further development.
3.2 The A step-Awareness
Communities in Cameroon who intend to undertake the ABCD process needs to start
with a general awareness of what is going on around them and of the bigger system
within which they operate. An awareness of Cameroon was given in Section 2.2 above.
An ABCD process begins with building awareness and a common understanding of what
is meant by sustainability. The whole Cameroonian community needs to get a better
understanding of their un-sustainable practices and the full consequences of their actions
taking into consideration the wider system. The ABCD methodology and its relevance as
a framework for sustainability and sustainable development are discussed. The steps that
Cameroon has to take in order to develop a shared understanding of the framework are;
introduction of The Natural Step Framework through awareness workshops or
presentations using qualified presentation facilitators. Alternatively, members of the
community should participate in community sustainability awareness workshop or
building internal capacity in the community by having an individual or a team from each
organization, company and household participate in the facilitator training.
Awareness training includes:
•
•
•
•
•
•
An introduction of the concept of sustainability
An introduction to the relevant basic science
Introduction of the four sustainability principles of sustainability
An introduction to backcasting
Reinforcement of a shared understanding “shared mental model” about what
sustainability means for the community
Draft a set of sustainability objectives for The Cameroon Communities.
The creation of a high level implementation plan based on the understanding of
sustainability to follow the process in the Cameroonian communities is necessary at this
point. Responsibilities should be assigned, targets and deadlines set, resources identified
and located, and an agreement made on how to assess the successful achievement of each
step.
3.2.1 Envisioning a sustainable Cameroon
Envisioning success (“checkmate”)11 for Cameroon begins with an examination of the
principles of sustainability (checkmate) based on knowledge of the system and framed
11
Robèrt uses games theory metaphors to explain that ”backcasting from a vision of success‘ is a dynamic
process that resembles chess, where principles of success guide the game towards checkmate, and each
moves takes current reality into account, while optimizing the possibility of winning.
21
with the four principles of sustainability [6]. A structured vision is the key to moving us
strategically towards sustainability. According to the great American poet, William
Blake[22]. “as a man is, so he sees”. This structured vision for Cameroon illustrates the
importance of a broad and inspiring vision which focuses on the future, rather than on
solving problems using a manager‘s mentality. The stakeholders in the communities must
be engaged in a vision that is culturally appropriate. People need a meaningful system
that allows them to connect and move forward in a productive way. Notwithstanding,
strategic leadership is about avoiding reductionism, a structured vision, which
incorporates a grasp of generational limitations in effecting change and focuses on
avoiding the human tendency to procrastinate is important. An inspiring vision helps to
overcome other challenges, including a general sense of personal helplessness, and the
lack of motivation to effect change once the need is recognized.
A vision of Cameroon is to become a socially sustainable society in one generation where
all resources are used efficiently, fairly and responsibly and are `not contributing` to
political abuse, economic abuse and environmental within interdependence, self
organization and diversity and the needs of all people are met without violation of the
principles of sustainability previously mentioned. The vision is a socially sustainable
society where all resources are used efficiently, fairly and responsibly and the needs of all
people are met.
3.3 The B Step: Finding sustainability present problems
The current situation of Cameroon can be analyzed under political, socio-economic and
environmental spheres. As already stated, there is the violation of all four principles of
sustainability. The main question to be answered here is “In what way do the activities of
Cameroonians contribute to society’s violation of the principles of sustainability and the
above mentioned vision?” The analysis will provide the basis for setting and managing
priorities and does not require a major assignment of resources. It will determine how the
activities of the communities in Cameroon will measure up to the four sustainability
principles.-A lens should be used to see where we are today with respect to those four
sustainability principles. A causal loop diagram or system map12 could be use to help
these communities to discover and illustrate the ways in which they are connected to the
earth-crust and the biosphere thus helping them to make a complete current reality
assessment of the sustainability effects of the current situation.
3.3.1 Social Problems (Sustainability principles 4)
In the context of this thesis, social problems include cultural decline, economic abuse and
political abuse.
Cultural decline; Africa in general and Cameroon in particular is threatened by the
potential for even graver if less quantifiable losses at the foundational level of sociocultural identity. Socio-cultural identity, partially defined by the set of practices appears
12
A system map is a picture or representation that helps us see the connection and interrelationships among
various elements of a given system.
22
to persevere in a rudimentary fashion despite ongoing ethnic conflict. Nevertheless,
prolonged conflict is clearly capable of undermining traditional authority structures and
eroding the symbolic framework of values, traditions, and beliefs. This dimension of
socio-cultural identity is being replaced by identification with violence. Restoration of
autonomy and the long-term survival of the populations should be conceived by aid
agencies as contingent upon the revitalization of the survival strategies that ensure a
people’s livelihood, both symbolically and materially. The vitality of a socio-cultural
framework should be recognized as contributing to the survival of the individuals
themselves, given the parity of self-sufficiency and the socio-cultural framework.
However, these different cultures and traditional belief systems in Cameroon which have
existed for many generations are undergoing changes. The destruction of the cultural
fabric is a result of globalization and other patterns of behaviour as summarized in the
quotation below:
“Nature's secrets, locked away in the songs, stories, art and handicrafts of indigenous people, may be
lost forever as a result of growing globalization” [23].
Globalization discards collective social relationships, cultural diversity and societies with
“stories” of meaning. Losing these cultures and all it entails means destruction of the
cultural fabric. The destruction of the cultural fabric has lead to constraints to social
cohesion which has in turn undermined the capacity of people to meet the needs of
subsistence, protection, creativity, identity, participation and affection.
The social environment in Cameroonian is characterized by lack of social cohesion. The
lack of integration and communication between social movements, increasing division
among Cameroonians, increasing fragmentation of socio-cultural identities, and
increasing impoverishment and marginalization of the Anglophone intensify the conflict
already existing and the consequences are social exclusion, fear, stress and frustration.
Also the social bond or union is destroyed thereby making it difficult for people to self
organized and sustain themselves. Furthermore, the overall social situation in Cameroon
has continued to deteriorate. This is evidenced by the rapid rate of population growth and
the pressure of urbanization and rural emigration, the decay in educational and health
infrastructure, growing malnutrition and poverty and widespread unemployment. Severe
cutbacks of expenditure on education and emphasis on cost recovery and cost sharing
continue to affect adversely the education sector. The same is also true with the health
sector; cost recovery programmes as well as pay disputes have interrupted the demand for
health care in many communities in Cameroon.
Political abuse; (Political Governmental problems, sustainability principles 4.) The
political atmosphere of Cameroon is characterized by fear, violence, marginalization and
exile. In Cameroon, fear is caused by semantic confusions13 due to ideological
manipulation, violence, exile or marginalization and frustration of life projects. There is
the violation of human rights. The laws of Cameroon are quite clear, starting with the
constitution about people’s freedom. A person is presumed innocent until he is proven
guilty. By extension and by the practice of law a person in police custody has the right to
13
Semantic confusion is used in this thesis as psychological manipulation.
23
a bail and to a fair and humane treatment. Despite the above laws, the human rights
record of Cameroon is poor. Security forces commit numerous unlawful killings and are
responsible for torture, beatings, and other abuses of persons, particularly detainees and
prisoners.
One example is that of July 11 2002, where the anti-gang police unit of Kumba shot and
killed university student by name David Nesoe as he tried to escape during a police
search for suspects in the 2002 killing of a pregnant woman. No action was taken by the
end of the year. In addition, Impunity is still a problem in Cameroon and Prison
conditions are harsh and life threatening. In September 2002, the U.N. Special
Rapporteur on Prisons and the Conditions of Detention in Africa, Vera Mlangazuwa
Chirwa, visited a sample of prisons in the country and personally interviewed 150
detainees. In her assessment of the visit, the Rapporteur said that overcrowding, poor
nutrition, and lack of adequate health care were principal problems in the prisons.
Furthermore, opposition politicians, local human rights monitors, and other citizens are
arrested and detained arbitrarily often holding them for prolonged periods without
charges or trials, and, at times, incommunicado.
It is a regular thing for the Government to infringe on citizens' privacy. The Government
imposes limits on freedom of speech and press and harassed and threatened journalists. .
In July 2002, the Yaoundé Court of First Instance sentenced in absentia J. Remy Ngono,
a journalist and commentator on Radio Television Siantou, to 6 months' imprisonment
without parole for defamation of character. These examples are based on facts given by
the United States Embassy [24].
The Government restricts freedom of assembly and association. Security forces limited
freedom of movement. Violence and discrimination against women is also a serious
problem. The Government still infringes on worker rights and restricts the activities of
independent labor organizations. The population of Cameroon must comply obediently to
the laws of the state. They cannot express themselves freely for fear of violence. Peaceful
protest marchers are severely punished and imprisoned without being given a fair hearing
while state terrorism has been accepted as law and order. Violence upsets the need for
protection thus it induces intense anxiety, isolation, marginalization and political exile.
The marginalization of the Anglophones in Cameroon and the threat and violence they
receive has lead to the creation of the SCNC-Southern Cameroon National Council (The
SCNC was formed after the all Anglophone conference in 1993) with president the
retired ambassador Henry Fossung. The recent march on January 3rd 2005 led to the
arrest of hundreds of Anglophones who are being tortured in the Kodengui Prison.
(Amnesty International, October 2002). This has been added to the number that has been
there from the arrest of October 5th 1999 and other subsequent arrests [25]. Under
Cameroonian law, detainees should be referred to a judicial authority to be either charged
or released within 72 hours of arrest (The Cameroon penal code). No charges have yet
been brought against any of the detainees. Political detainees and criminal suspects in
Cameroon are routinely tortured or ill-treated. The conditions of detention in police
stations, gendarmerie detention centres and prisons are extremely harsh. Severe
24
overcrowding, poor hygiene and ventilation, inadequate food and medical care results in
a high mortality rate amongst these detainees [26]. The other SCNC members who were
not arrest were exiled from the country. A consequence is that the Cameroonians are
alienated from their country.
According to Manfred Max Neef:
“the crisis becomes very acute owing to the inefficiency of the existing representative political
mechanism in coping with the actions of financial elite, the increasing internationalization of political
decisions and the lack of control of the citizenry over public bureaucracies”.
Another aspect that makes the political situation or “universe” to be considered as not
having an ethical foundation is the lack of a deep-rooted democratic culture and the
increase in technological control over the Cameroonian society.
Economic Abuse; (Sustainability Principle 4, Economic Governance Problems.) Good
economic performance is a prerequisite of every successful government. A majority of
the population of Cameroon reside in rural areas, where agriculture is the main
occupation. Agriculture accounts for 24 percent of gross domestic product. Gross
national product growth has an average of 4 to 5 percent annually with less than 3 percent
inflation. However, a rather large parastatal14 sector, excessive public-sector
employment, and the Government's inability to deregulate the economy inhibited private
investment and further economic recovery. Widespread corruption within the business
sector and the Government also impeded growth. Members of the Beti ethnic group,
including the Bulu subgroup, figured prominently in the Government, civil service, and
the management of state-owned businesses thus treating state owned resources as their
private properties[24]. This phenomenon has led to serious socio-economic problems.
The needs of subsistence, protection, participation, creation, identity and freedom are not
met because of this form of economic abuse.
i: External Debt. One of the serious problems faced by Cameroon is external debt and
this is responsible for the poor living situation and it stand as an obstacle to people ability
to meet their needs. According to the World Fact book, Cameroon external debts stands
as $8,460,000,000( 2004 estimate). The international banking system is maintained at the
expense of the health and well-being of the Cameroonian population. The massive
growth of external debt in Cameroon over the past two decades has given rise to concerns
about the detrimental effects of the debt on investment and growth, principally the wellknown "debt overhang" effect. Furthermore, there is now considerable evidence that the
buildup in Cameroon’s debt was accompanied by increasing capital flight. In other
words, Cameroon is simultaneously an importer and an exporter of capital. John
Gummer, in the Guardian says “Due to the prevailing circumstances the prevailing debtor
countries must initiate an era based on the politics of hardship so as to maximize their
revenue through exports”. The effect of this trend leads to the irreversible deprivation of
many natural resources and the increasing impoverishment of the people.
14
A semi-autonomous, quasi-governmental, state-owned enterprise
25
ii: Hyperinflation. A second problem faced by Cameroon is the phenomenon of
hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is inflation which is "out of control", a condition in which
prices of everything in the national territory increases rapidly as the currency loses its
value. The most widely accepted definition of hyperinflation among economists is that by
Philip Cagan [27]. who, in his 1956 paper, classified hyperinflation as any inflation
exceeding 50 percent per month (or 12 875 percent per year).The issue of hyperinflation
has economic, social and psychological components. This problem is severe because it
goes far beyond the economic field and affects all aspects of society thus undermining the
ability of people to meet their needs. Hyperinflation leads to reduced investment and
lower economic growth. Variable inflation rates create uncertainty that affects the level
of economic output. Hyperinflation occurs when there is less currency stability. Bryan
Tylor in his book “The Century of inflation”[28]. states that inflation occurred because
governments are unwilling to deal with the economic problems they faced.
One example is inflation caused by the high interest rate of commercial banks, a solution
should be the reduction of these exorbitant interest rates but since the government would
not want to reduce these taxes because they would not want to act for the benefit of the
people. According to Tylor, governments must learn that the economic problems that lead
to inflationary finance must be dealt with immediately. Inflation only delays and worsens
these economic problems at the cost of economic investment and output. The
introduction of the CFA Francs15 has devastated the country both psychologically and
socially. The economic consequences of the introduction of the CFA are the constant
devaluations and inflations leading to the deterioration of wages, pessimism, and thus
making the Cameroonians to lose faith in their country and rulers. In addition to the
above, Cameroonians have little confidence in the CFA Francs which they use and this
has given rise to uncertainty about the future.
This acute deterioration in confidence in a currency has been generally described by
Manfred Max-Neef [7]. In the present situation in Cameroon, there is a sense of
uncertainty and skepticism which has created a phenomenon which is difficult to reverse
and an environment where innovative alternatives capable of overcoming an inflationary
crisis are almost impossible to generate.
iii: Unemployment. A third aspect of the current economic situation is unemployment.
Unemployment refers to all people above a specified age who are not in paid employment
or self-employed, but are available for work and have taken specific steps to seek paid
employment or self-employment [29]. The target group which deserves special mention
consists of young people and women, who constitute the bulk of the unemployed in
Cameroon. There is also an increase in unemployment among university graduates.
Unemployment is caused by economic processes. The causes of unemployment in
Cameroon include the worldwide recession, which has resulted in less demand for raw
materials, cash crops and, to some extent, manufactured goods. This has led to decreased
production and the eventual and unavoidable lay-offs. Furthermore, as a result of modern
15
The CFA Francs stands for the franc de la Communauté financière de l'Afrique (CFA franc), issued by
the Banque centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO)
26
technology, labour-intensive work, such as agricultural employment, has been drastically
reduced as fewer people are needed to perform certain jobs.
Mention should also be made of the role played by the increasing population. The result
has been that more job seekers have been thrown onto the labour market. Urban
migration is yet another cause of unemployment in Cameroon, with people moving from
rural areas to urban centres in search of greater opportunities. Lastly, the effect of the
structural adjustment programme on the unemployment crisis in Cameroon cannot be
overemphasised. Its result has been economic hardships. Working people are forced to
work harder and longer for lower wages, and are laid off in large numbers.
It is important to note that unemployment has always existed in Cameroon but the
percentage of unemployed people in Cameroon in the past few years has risen steadily.
According to the Human Development Report for Cameroon, the unemployment rate in
2001 was 30%. Recent Statistics puts the number at 40%. Unemployment has physical,
psychological and social effects. Physically, the unemployed in Cameroon experience
rising rates of ill health and mortality, primarily as a result of poverty, which is
accompanied by lack of sufficient funds to purchase nutritious foods and consequently by
deficiencies in diet which might lead to death. Psychologically, unemployment leads to
loss of confidence and self-esteem and this often develop into depression, a full- blown
psychosis, even leading to suicide. Finally, at a social level, unemployment usually
results in some form of social pathology, as reflected by an increased crime rate, violent
agitation and destruction of family life through indulgement in bad behaviours such as
excessive consumption of alcohol, prostitution and pick-pocketing.
According to Prof. Steve Fazzari, unemployment is a waste of resources. In the Article,
Economics for supplementary reading, he points out that labour that people are willing to
offer but are unable to expend is not "saved" to be used at some other time but is lost to
society. Therefore the Cameroonian society is losing a huge amount of labour which
could have been used for economic advancement.
The material economic losses due to unemployment are fairly obvious:
•
•
•
•
•
People want to work more to consume more goods and services. If they are
unemployed they will miss these material opportunities.
Maintaining life styles during spells of unemployment is difficult if not
impossible. The savings of the unemployed people in Cameroon are often
depleted, lowering their sense of economic security.
The unemployed people in Cameroon usually lose their fringe benefits,
particularly their employer-paid health insurance.
Since the Cameroonian society places much emphasis on material success and
career status, an individuals' self esteem is often closely bound up with their job
situations.
In Cameroon, the work place is an important social environment for many people.
It provides friendship and support. People are cut off from these links when they
are out of work.
27
•
•
Unemployment increases the chances of family breakup in Cameroon contributes
to child and spouse abuse.
Being unemployed in Cameroon hurts an individual's work record, making it
more difficult for him or her to find another job.
When people are unemployed, they cannot meet the basic needs of subsistence, and this
lead to poverty.
iv: Capital flight. Furthermore, capital flight is another aspect of the current economic
situation in Cameroon. Capital flight has been regarded as a major factor contributing to
the mounting foreign debts problem and inhibiting development efforts in the third world
[30]. Capital flight is the movement of savings and liquid financial assets from one
country to another and from one currency to another. Capital flight happens when there is
a collapse of confidence in a country's economic policy and it leads people to try to pull
their investments out of a country and invest them somewhere else. A majority of the top
ranking officials in Cameroon transfer huge amounts of money abroad and store them in
foreign banks like the Swiss Bank. There is a rapid flow of financial assets out of
Cameroon’s economy into that of other countries. Capital flight is the end result of
embezzlement and misappropriation of public and private funds. Corruption it should be
noted have eaten deep into the fabric of the Cameroonian society and this is a result of
non accountability, responsibility and transparency. Cameroon has recently been
classified twice as the most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International (a
non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption). Top ranking officials
in Cameroon siphon public funds with impunity and are instead promoted to higher post
of responsibility. In response to fears of political risk Capital flight is associated with a
sharp depreciation in the value of the currency, and poses very difficult economic policy
choices. The effects are the alienation of foreign investors leading to a high rate of
unemployment and people not meeting the need of subsistence. It breaks cohesion.
3.3.2 Environmental Problems (Sustainability principle 1, 2, 3)
Environmental damage is now threatening to snatch away conditions necessary for
continued human prosperity and health and Cameroon is no exception to this
phenomenon. Unsustainable environmental practices through consumption and
production pose increasing threats to the Earth's water, forests, climate, biodiversity, food
and energy supply. As concerns sustainability principle 1, Cameroon exploits its
resources such as oil, coal, metals and gravel at a rate that limit choice available for
coming generation. According to statistics from energy consumption from World trend,
out of the total enery expenditure in Cameroon, 95% comes from fossil fuel mainly in
traffic, industry and home consumption. The extraction of Petroleum around Limbe, kribi
and other towns in the South west province is causing a lot of damage to the fertile
croplands around these areas.
Furthermore, violation of sustainability principle 2 is shown from the fact that very little
is done in the domain of recycling in Cameroon. Recycling is done only in the cities of
Yaoundé and Douala. Recycling in Cameroon is done by Hysacam (a recycling company
28
based in Yaoundé and Douala) and it is not reliable because it does not function all year.
In addition to the above, the application of pesticides and fertilizers go a long way to
degrade the environment in the long run and this violates sustainability principle 3. In
Cameroon, Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT)16 is used at the same time as
pesticides in the farms and insecticides in some living quarters like in Douala and
Yaoundé, DDT is still used to kill insects and mosquitoes which cause Malaria and other
tropical illnesses. Again, the use of fertilizers by farmers destroys the fertility of the soil
in the long run.
The uses of pesticides in agriculture of Cameroon have, according to the World Health
Organisation, gone up since 1950 Pesticides and fertilizers do not only render land
unfertile, they find their ways into the rivers and groundwater. By products and waste
from industries are dumped into the waters and ocean leading to the destruction of
aquatic ecosystems.
Furthermore, another violation of sustainability principle 3 comes from over harvesting
of food sources (like fish and hunting of animals) and wood is very common in most
areas in Cameroon. It is important to note wood is used in Cameroon for construction,
production of papers and in the households. Due to the low income level of
Cameroonians, many people especially those in rural areas still use firewood for cooking
and this has led to over harvesting of wood. Finally, motorways, settlements and airports
are constructed on fertile agricultural land rendering it unavailable for primary
production.
3.3.3 Summary of obstacles in meeting needs and preserving the
ecosystem.
From the foregoing, we can group the obstacles in meeting needs in the local
communities of Cameroon into the political, economic, socio-cultural and environmental
sphere as seen in table 2 below. Abuse of political and economic power is undermining
the capacity of people to meet their needs in these societies and then indirectly the
survival of the ecosystem that they depend upon is also threatened.
•
Politically, discrimination, marginalization, exploitative supply contracts and
exploitation of local communities leading to non participation, transparency,
responsibility, accountability and dishonesty.
16
Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) is a colorless, odorless insecticide that has toxic effects to
people and animals when swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Therefore, atmospheric deposition is
the current source of new DDT contamination in our Great Lakes. DDT, and its break-down products DDE
and DDD, are persistent, bioacculumative, and toxic (PBT) pollutants. Some of the harmful effects are
probable human carcinogen, damages the liver, temporarily damages the nervous system, reduces
reproductive success, can cause liver cancer, and damage the reproductive system .
29
•
•
Economic obstacles are materialism, domination, and monopoly, restrictions to
investment in more sustainable technology through corruption, unemployment,
embezzlement, and capital flight.
Socio-culturally, the needs of self organization, diversity and interdependence are
violated respectively through the lack of freedom of expression, freedom of
association, freedom of movement, and freedom of thought, lack of equal
opportunities for both sexes and equal protection, cultural and religious diversity
and the freedom to be different, cohesion, reciprocity, trust, access to resources
and education, failure to provide workers, families and local communities with
safety and healthcare.
Environmental obstacles are overexploitation of natural resources such as oil, coal,
metals and gravel, the application of fertilizers and pesticides such as the DDT, the over
harvesting of food sources such as fish and animals and misuse of fertile agricultural
land for the construction motorways, settlements and airports . The obstacles in meeting
the needs of Cameroonians mentioned above can be illustrated using the following table.
30
Table 3.1. Obstacles in meeting needs in Cameroon
Needs
Social - sustainability principle 4
Environmental
Political abuse
Economic
abuse
Subsistence
-National
security doctrine
-Bureaucracy
-Exploitative
supply contract
-Taylorist-type
of production
-Unemployment
-Materialism
-Monopoly
-Corruption
-Embezzlement
-Capital flight
S.P.1
Emission
of
elements
Excess
use of
elements
like
petroleum.
Use of
fossil fuel
Protection
-Exile
-Censorship
-National
security doctrine
-Bureaucracy
-Marginalization
-Discrimination
-National
security doctrine
-Exile
-Censorship
-Bureaucracy
-Authoritarianism
-Marginalization
-Discrimination
-Golden rule
-Censorship
-Materialism
-Monopoly
-Corruption
-Embezzlement
-Capital flight
-Censorship
-Bureaucracy
-Authoritarianism
-Golden rule
-Exile
-National
security doctrine
-Censorship
-Bureaucracy
-Authoritarianism
-Marginalization
-Golden rule
-Taylorist-type
of production
-Monopoly
Participatio
n
Idleness
Creation
Affection
S.P.2
Emission
of
chemicals
Use of
pesticide
and
insecticide
like DDT.
Satisfiers
S.C:3
Physical
removal
Over
exploitation
of food
sources and
natural
resources –
such as fish,
animals,
wood.
Destruction
of the
ecosystem.
Destruction
of the
environment
-Food, water
-Physical and
mental health
-Adaptability
-Care
-Adaptability
-Autonomy
-Equilibrium
-Solidarity
-Adaptability
-Receptiveness Solidarity
-Willingness
-Determination Dedication
-Respect
-Passion
-Taylorist-type
of production
-Materialism
-Monopoly
-Corruption
-Curiosity,
-Receptiveness Imagination
-Recklessness
-Sense of
humour,
-Tranquillity
-Passion
-Determination Intuition
Destruction
of the
environment
-Materialism
-Embezzlement
-Capital flight
31
-Self- esteem.
-Solidarity
-Tolerance
-Receptiveness
Passion
-Determination
Sensuality
Understand
ing
-National
security doctrine
-Censorship
-Bureaucracy
-Authoritarianism
-Golden rule
-Taylorist-type
of production
Identity
-Exile
-National
security doctrine
-Censorship
-Bureaucracy
-Authoritarianism
-Marginalization
-Exploitative
-Supply contract
-Golden rule
-Exile
-National
security doctrine
-Censorship
-Bureaucracy
-Authoritarianism
-Golden rule
-Marginalization
-Taylorist-type
of production
-Monopoly
Freedom
Destruction
of the
environment
-Critical
conscience
-Receptiveness
-Curiosity
-Astonishment
-Discipline
-Intuition
-Rationality
-Sense of
belonging
-Consistency
-Differentiation
-Self esteem
-Assertiveness
-Autonomy
- Self esteem
- Determination
-Assertiveness
-Taylorist-type
of production
-Monopoly
-Corruption
open-mindedness
3.4 The C-step-Finding measures towards sustainability
From section 3.3 above, it is glaring that the situation in Cameroon is unsustainable.
Below are some possible solutions to the obstacles in meeting needs in Cameroon.
3.4.1 Political measures
The overall goal is to ensure a fair democracy and good governance which allows
political accountability, freedom of association, improved legal frameworks, bureaucratic
transparency, and respect for human rights. Also, electoral processes should be credible
and transparent, and elections should be conducted in a manner that is free and fair and
uphold and respect "global standards of democracy” for development is impossible in the
absence of true democracy, respect for human rights, peace and good governance.
Public sector capacity building, which will need to be far-reaching and, most importantly,
ensure that public servants earn a proper living wage. Other reforms should include
training, rightsizing, strengthening of career structures, switching decision-making on key
appointments from the incumbent government to Parliament, and re-engineering
administrative procedures such as procurement procedures so that the "discretionary" role
of officials is limited. Expanding capacity-building programmes related to political
governance and improving administrative and civil services, strengthening parliamentary
oversight, promoting participatory decision-making, and judicial reform.
32
By building momentum through the local administrations of the Centre, Littoral,
Northwest and South west Provinces, and then use them as role models.
3.4.2 Economic Measures
Reconstruction of the economy and stamping out corruption through accountability in
government, which ought to include such requirements as the disclosure of assets and
income sources by elected officials upon taking office. Strengthening capacity-building
programmes related to economic and corporate governance and implementing sound
macro-economic strategies, strengthening public financial management and
accountability, protecting the integrity of monetary and financial systems, strengthening
accounting and auditing systems, and developing an effective corporate governance
framework Encourage trade and direct growth-oriented investment by reducing taxes and
creating employment opportunities in the long run.
In order to reduce the unemployment situation and meet the needs of the
Cameroonian population, the following solutions are proposed:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
The Cameroon government should pay greater attention to internal resource
mobilization, less external borrowing, fiscal discipline, a maintenance culture and
indigenous entrepreneurial development.
There should be increased resource allocation out of national budgets for
employment promotion activities.
High priority should be accorded to the promotion of rural employment through
increased support for rural agro and cottage industries, the rural service sector and
infrastructural development.
Efforts should be intensified to increase productivity and income through the
informal sector, and governments should increase their efforts to facilitate greater
access of operators in the informal sector to the means of production such as land,
capital and improved management technology and training in order to facilitate
the marketing of their products.
There should be an expansion of the primary health care programme to make
provision for free health care for the unemployed and their family as part of a
relief package. A health care delivery system should also be introduced into the
informal sector.
There should be measures to increase unemployment benefits and an expansion of
social welfare programmes, including the subsidization of rents.
Public work projects (such as food-for-work programmes which do not conflict
with food production policies) and voluntary work should be provided to keep the
unemployed occupied.
The Cameroon Government should help people to cope by finding other ways of
fulfilling the needs like giving subsidies to people to encourage them to be self
employed.
The Cameroon government should encourage the development of new ways of
producing materials which will be used to make clothes and other materials that is
needed.
33
3.4.3 Social Measures
The use of all resources efficiently, fairly and responsibly so that the needs of all
Cameroonians could be met, thereby bridging the gap between the rich and poor.
Incorporation of the golden rule (participation, accountability, transparency,
responsibility, respect and trust) in every sector of the society. Cut down embezzlement
by conducting an effective anti-corruption campaign. Encourage equal participation of
Cameroonian women in all aspects of the Cameroonian society and the application of
gender main-streaming in all policies and programmes.
Build social capacity and pursue policies that spur economic growth and alleviate poverty
through the inspiration of case studies like the Green Belt movement and seeds of
change. Social capacity building and agriculture could be the smartest early moves to
create the necessary momentum to provide the platforms for economic prosperity.
Some of the measures that Cameroon should adopt as concerns the sustainability
principles are listed below.
3.4.4 Environmental measures
The solutions provided below could be use for one or more sustainability principle.
Concerning measure for sustainability principle 1, Cameroon should switch from the use
of unsustainable energy resources to renewable energy sources such as solar, small-scale
micro hydro, geothermal, biomass, biogas and even “pedal power”. Further more, the
industries in Cameroon should Substitute metals and minerals that are scarce in nature
with others that are more abundant. The building and housing companies should replace
copper roofing with steel roofing during construction. Also all mined metals and minerals
should be used efficiently. There should be the creation of sustainable hydro-dams.
Finally, Cameroon should institute mass recycling of metals and materials extracted from
the earth’s crust so as to keep them in technical cycles.
Concerning measures for sustainability principles 2, there is need for Cameroon should
substitute certain persistent and unnatural compounds with others that are more abundant
or that break down more easily in nature, while alternatively working and figuring out
ways to eliminate their use altogether in the coming years. Furthermore, intensive
pesticide use on land should be replaced with integrated pest management where
possible. Agro forestry which includes diversifying farming systems, using new ways of
production and moving towards the lower use of chemical inputs should be encouraged.
In addition to the above, Cameroon should use organic fertilizers and move towards the
lower use of pesticides and insecticides. Again, Cameroon should strife to eradicate the
use of the Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) through education of the harmful
and toxic effect on the atmosphere and the population. Finally, Cameroon should use all
substance it produces such as Petroleum, bauxite, and iron ore efficiently and in a
sustainable manner.
Concerning sustainability principle 3, Cameroon should harvest its natural resources in a
sustainable way and it should substitute materials that have been unsustainably harvested
34
from nature with those that are sustainably harvested (e.g. fish, wood, timber).
Furthermore, there should be the use of all materials harvested from nature more
efficiently and a reduction of the overall consumption of nature’s services altogether.
The implementation of these proposed solutions by the Cameroon government could
accelerate progress, meet the needs of the people and create a socially sustainable society.
3.5 The D-step: Prioritization and planning
The action part is very strategic and involves setting and managing priorities. We
translate our vision into action items and measurable steps through which Cameroon can
move from its current reality to the vision of success in a sustainable society. The strategy
for success is built on backcasting and a step by step approach to selecting flexible
platforms which are logical stepping stones, within this strategy. Using the backcasting
perspective, planning towards strategic progress starts by translating and incorporating
basic sustainability principles into the countries objectives. Translating these basic
principles for a sustainable society would be to eliminate our contribution to these four
basic principles of sustainability stated above.
Some tools that could be used to systematically keep track of the relative success of these
measures are- The life cycle analysis, environmental management system, ecological
footprinting, biomimicry, genuine progress indicators and Global Reporting Initiative
(GRI). This section of the thesis involves a step by step approach mainly towards the
three constituent elements to social sustainability, the launching of “flexible platforms”
and the continuous feeding of required resources into the process while at the same time
incorporating the golden rule as a generic guiding principle to analyze practices and
scrutinizing the process towards sustainability.
3.5.1 Prioritization of measures
Prioritizing of actions are early steps to take the Cameroonian society from today’s
unsustainable society towards the vision of a sustainable Cameroon by 2030. The above
mentioned measures are prioritized using the three key questions: Does the suggested
change (i) move Cameroon in the right direction in relation to the four principles of
sustainability? (ii) Provide a flexible platform for further development towards
sustainability and (iii) have a good return on investment in the short run so as to lead us
towards sustainability. In this section, some early steps to be prioritize are:
Table 3.2. Prioritization of Measures
Proposed goals
Comments
PM#1. To ensure a fair
democracy and good
governance.
This will move Cameroon in
the right direction and
eliminate obstacles for
people meeting their needs.
35
Prioritized - now or in
the future
Short-term.
Some proposed
Measures/ Action
Expanding capacitybuilding programmes
related to political
governance and
improving administrative
PM#2. Public sector
capacity building, which
will need to be far-reaching
and, most importantly,
ensure that public servants
earn a proper living wage.
Important element for
compliance with the
country’s vision Essential
from overall sustainable
perspective of the country.
PM#3 Reconstruction of
the economy and stamping
out corruption.
Will serve as a flexible
platform for economic
development which is
needed to provide jobs for
today’s unemployed and
under-employed, and for the
growing work forces.
Important step to move the
country towards a socially
sustainable society.
Essential for the
reconstructing the economy.
PM#4 Strengthening
capacity-building
programmes related to
economic and corporate
governance and
implementing sound
macro-economic
strategies,.
PM#5. Encourage trade
and direct growth-oriented
investment.
Bring progress in the
direction of social
sustainability.
Continuous process.
Short term.
Accountability in
government, which ought
to include such
requirements as the
disclosure of assets and
income sources by elected
officials upon taking
office.
Short-term.
strengthening public
financial management and
accountability, protecting
the integrity of monetary
and financial systems,
strengthening accounting
and auditing systems, and
developing an effective
corporate governance
framework.
reducing taxes and
creating employment
opportunities in the long
run.
Short-term and
continuous process.
36
and civil services,
strengthening
parliamentary oversight,
promoting participatory
decision-making, and
judicial reform
Ensure that laws are
properly enforced and
built capacity of people’s
understanding on what
democracy is all about.
Reforms should include
training, rightsizing,
strengthening of career
structures, switching
decision-making on key
appointments from the
incumbent government to
Parliament, and reengineering
administrative procedures
such as procurement
procedures so that the
"discretionary" role of
officials is limited.
PM#6.
Incorporation of the
participation,
accountability,
transparency,
responsibility, respect and
trust in every sector of the
society.
Necessary to elevate the
social situation.
Short-term.
Adopting the golden rule
through education of the
public.
PM# 7.Building social
capacity and pursue
policies that spur economic
growth and alleviate
poverty.
Essential for social cohesion
and the rebuilding of the
social fabric.
Non-stop process.
PM#8Improve access to
basic education in
vocational and professional
training.
Very important for building
a solid social foundation and
improving the economic by
providing self employment.
Continuous process.
Public sector capacity
building with inspiration
drawn from case studies
like the Green Belt
movement in Kenya and
Seeds of change In India.
Through education and
subsidizing education
geared towards self
employment and trade
related fields.
PM #9 Encourage equal
participation of
Cameroonian women in all
aspects of the Cameroonian
society.
Essential from overall
sustainable perspective of
the country.
Medium-term.
By the application of
gender main-streaming in
all policies and
programmes and
Create an enabling
environment for the
protection and
harmonious development
of individuals and family.
PM# 10-Sc1-Switch to
renewable energy sources
Substitute metals and
minerals that are scarce in
nature with others that are
more abundant such as
replacing copper roofing
with steel roofing. -The use
of all mined metals and
minerals more efficiently Recycling of metals and
materials extracted from
the earth’s crust to keep
them in technical cycles.
PM# 11-SP2-Use all
substance produces by
society more efficiently. Substitute certain persistent
and unnatural compounds
with others that are more
abundant or that break
down more easily in nature.
Essential from overall
sustainable perspective of
the country For sustainable
perspective, further
improvement of recycling
options for metals.
Continuous process.
Cameroon should
develop initiatives
towards the development
of renewable energy
sources such as solar,
small-scale micro hydro,
geothermal, biomass,
biogas and even “pedal
power” -
For sustainable perspective,
this step is essential though
rather complicated.
Medium-term.
Education on the negative
effects of pesticides such
as the DDT and work to
subsequent eradication
replace intensive pesticide
and herbicide use on land
scapes with integrated
pest management where
37
Alternatively, figure out
ways to eliminate their use
altogether.
PM# 12-SP3-Substitute
materials that are
unsustainably harvested
from nature with those that
are sustainably harvested
(e.g. fish, wood) -Use all
materials harvested from
nature more efficiently.
Reduce overall
consumption of nature’s
services altogether.
For sustainable perspective,
this step is essential.
Medium-term.
possible. use natural
cleaning products instead
of corrosive ones.
Laws should be stating
clearly the method and
quantity of resources to be
harvested and punishing
the unsustainable
harvesting of resources
These prioritized measures are short term, medium term or long term depending on the
urgency. Short term measures indicate that it is immediate. Prioritization is necessary. At
this point, we proceed from a potentially decisive debate of “where we are going” to a
constructive and focused review of “exactly how do we get there”. In course of the
process, priority was given to those measures that shift the operation most quickly
towards the vision, while at the same time flexibility was underlined in terms of continual
improvement and generating a good return on investments. While prioritizing, we
checked each proposed priority measure with the current reality imperatives, as well as
with the questions for strategic prioritization.
Table 3.3. Matrix of Sustainability principles showing the objectives, violations and
solutions to unsustainable practices in Cameroon.
Sustainability
principles
In a sustainable
society, nature is
not subject to
systematically
increasing
Sustainability
objectives
Sustainability
principle 1
Concentration of
substances
extracted from the
earth’s crust
Sustainability
principle 2
Concentration of
substances
produces by
society
Sustainability
principle 3
Degradation by
physical means
Sustainability
principle 4 In the
society, Human
needs are met
worldwide
Eliminate our
contribution to
systematic
increases in
concentration of
substances from
the earth’s crust.
Eliminate our
contribution to
systematic
increases in
concentrations of
substances
produced by
society
Eliminate our
contribution to the
physical
degradation of
nature through
over-harvesting,
introduction, and
other forms of
modification.
Current reality
Question
How is Cameroon
contributing to the
How is Cameroon
contributing to the
How is Cameroon
contributing to
Contribute as
much as possible
to the meeting of
human needs of
the employees,
community, region
and globally, and
to eliminate their
contribution to
systems and
practices that
undermine the
ability of other
communities to
meet their human
needs.
How is Cameroon
contributing to
38
systematic increase
in the ecosphere of
substances from
the earth’s crust?
systematic
increases in
concentrations of
substances
produced by
society?
Violations
use of fossil fuel
unsustainable
transportation
Mining and
misuse of scarce
metals
The use of
fungicide and
insecticides such
as DDT
Prioritized
Solutions
1) Switch to
renewable energy
sources such as
solar, small-scale
micro hydro,
geothermal,
biomass, biogas
and even “pedal
power” 2)
Substitute metals
and minerals that
are scarce in nature
with others that are
more abundant
such as replacing
copper roofing
with steel roofing.
3) The use of all
mined metals and
minerals more
efficiently 4)
Recycling of
metals and
materials extracted
from the earth’s
crust to keep them
in technical cycles.
1) Use all
substance produces
by society more
efficiently. 2)
Substitute certain
persistent and
unnatural
compounds with
others that are
more abundant or
that break down
more easily in
nature.(e.g. replace
intensive pesticide
and herbicide use
on land scapes
with integrated
pest management
where possible.
use natural
cleaning products
instead of
corrosive ones.
39
physical
degradation of
nature through
over-harvesting,
introductions of
foreign species and
other forms of
ecosystem
modification?
Over harvesting of
food sources such
as fish
1) Substitute
materials that are
unsustainably
harvested from
nature with those
that are sustainably
harvested (e.g.
fish, wood) 2) Use
all materials
harvested from
nature more
efficiently. 3)
Reduce overall
consumption of
nature’s services
altogether.
meeting basic
needs in the
community and the
region, and how is
it contributing to
meeting human
needs globally?
Political abusedictatorship,
misuse of power
Economic abuse
debts
hyperinflation
Unemployment
Capital flight
Environmental
abuse
1) The use of all
resources
efficiently, fairly
and responsibly so
that the needs of
all Cameroonians
could be met,
thereby bridging
the gap between
the haves and the
have-nots.
1)To ensure a fair
democracy and
good governance
3) The use of the
golden rule in all
sectors ( Public
and private sector)
of the society
4 The sustainability vision in practice
How might the sustainability analysis above translate into concrete activities in the
Cameroonian community?
4.1 Improvements through
sustainable Cameroon
developed
agriculture
for
a
4.1.1 Background
I have chosen to take a closer look at of agriculture is due to the fact that it is the
economic mainstay of Cameroon and therefore there is great need for this sector to
become sustainable in the near future.Located in the Gulf of Guinea, in the “bight of
Biafra”, Cameroon lies at the intersection of West Africa and Central Africa. The North
of Cameroon is dry and contains vast savannas whereas the South is home to dense
tropical forest. Ecologically and culturally, Cameroon is extremely rich. It contains more
than 250 ethnic groups speaking dozens of different languages and a particularly high
biodiversity, especially in terms of its flora.
Cameroon is especially endowed unusually with rich and diverse ecological, cultural and
anthropological systems. In spite of the rapid pace of exploitation in the recent past,
Cameroon’s forest still cover more than 22million hectares, making it the second largest
producer of forestry products in Africa behind the Democratic Republic of Congo and the
first exporter of wood product from Africa.
Agriculture is the country’s economic mainstay. Economically, Cameroon is one of the
wealthiest African countries with a gross national product similar to that of Nigeria, its
powerful neighbour. Cameroon has one of the best endowed primary commodity
economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is amongst the top twenty producers of goods like
Manioca , Cocoa and coffee. Only 32% of the country is farmed, while 63% is covered in
forest. Agricultural products include cocoa, coffee, banana cotton, rubber, oilseed, root
starch, livestock and timber. Subsistence crops include plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava,
corn and millet.
The agricultural sector has always been and remains the government's priority in its
strategy for the development of the country. Before the oil crisis (1978), the agricultural
sector engaged at least 70 % of its active population. Its GNP calculated on the basis of
purchasing price from farmers was constant at more than 30 % of the Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). It provides about 70 % of the country's revenue and also budgetary
allocations of 30 and 40 %. Traditional agriculture strongly dominated the sector
covering at least 90 % of surface area, producing 94 % of food crops and 90 % of total
production. The traditional agricultural system is composed of small farms for family
consumption of not more than 2 hectares, characterized by little use of agricultural inputs.
Agro-industrial plantations take up 7 % of the cultivated surface area for about a 10 %
production [31].
40
In like manner with the rest of the economy, agriculture has in recent years been going
through a serious crisis due mainly to the lack of strategic policies and their
implementation, high costs of inputs, e.g. fertilizers, pesticides, and the lack of markets
for products which need to be processed. This had led to a steady increase of poverty that
the recent economic recovering of the country could not alleviate that is the reason why
poverty alleviation is the main objective of development policies in Cameroon. Such
policies aim to reduce poverty by addressing its causes, among others which are
population growth, low status of women in the society, insufficient level of productivity,
and natural resources degradation. These factors affect the population directly and
indirectly. Currently in Cameroon, as in other African countries, the poverty issue is
analyzed in the context of a sustainable development framework of inter-linkages
between population growth, environment degradation and food insecurity. As
Cameroon‘s economy slowly recovers, policy makers are faced with the crucial question
of “how will the population environment agriculture nexus impinge on future economic
growth?”.
Cameroon, presents an exceptional environmental diversity that gives the country
opportunities for long-term development. However, the current exploitation of natural
resources is detrimental for their regeneration and the country risks jeopardizing its
opportunity for a sustainable development. The high population growth, and the
subsistence labour activities, mainly agriculture and pastoral, affect the level of
exploitation and exhaustion of the country‘s natural resources. The forest has been overexploited by families and firms without monitoring and protecting actions. Deforestation
has been done at a rhythm 10-times superior to the regeneration capacity. According to
the PEDA Advocacy Booklet [32]., Cameroon lost 8 percent of its forest during the
period from 1981 to 1990. Moreover, the environment has been negatively affected by an
over-exploitation of the land and land fallow has been shortened, new lands are
cultivated, detrimental agricultural practices are used, specially in the northern regions of
the country that endangers the natural resources of Cameroon and the ecosystem of
specific areas.
4.1.2 Problems
Furthermore, Cameroon had a population density of 31 people per km2 in year 2000
[33].This is higher than the average for central Africa. Moreover, this density presents
high regional differences. If some regions are almost empty, others have a density higher
than 100 people per Km square. At the same time, the agricultural techniques employed
are unsuited for intensive agriculture and as such land degradation is a serious problem. It
is worthy of note that the economic recession was one of the main causes of the
stagnation in agricultural mechanization and intensification.
The sustainability of land use in Cameroon has been lost through the clearing of species
rich natural vegetation in favour of monocultures of improved food crops grown
intensively with high inputs of agro chemicals. These intensive farming systems have
indeed helped to feed growing human populations, but at a high cost to the surrounding
environment. Non-sustainable agriculture has caused environmental degradation through
41
ecosystem destruction. Environmental degradation results from highly interactive
processes involving numerous social, economic, and biophysical factors and
consequential feedback loops that exacerbate and are reinforced as seen in the diagram
below. This phenomenon defies the aim of sustainability which urges us to preserve the
environment so we can meet our needs without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their needs. The table below iillustrates how the present
unsustainable agricultural activities in Cameroon do not only violate sustainability
principles 1, 2, 3 but also undermine the ability of people meeting their needs.
(sustainability principle 4). Some examples of capacity of needs that are unndermined are
the needs for subsistence, protection, creation and identity. This is an example of the use
of a system map or a causal loop diagram (CLD).
Below is a cycle of biophysical and socio-economic processes causing ecosystem
degradation, biodiversity loss, and the breakdown of ecosystem function, in agricultural
land in many tropical countries including Cameroon.
42
Figure 4.1. Cycle of biophysical and socio-economic processes causing ecosystem
degradation. 17
17
Adapted from World Bank, 1992; Tengberg and Stocking,
43
This figure shows the link between ecosystem degradation on the one hand and poverty
on the other. It is glaring that unsustainable agriculture leads to poverty, deforestation,
overgrazing, loss of biodiversity, and declining livelihoods.
4.1.3 Solutions
There is therefore a need to take an innovative approach to integrated natural resource
management, aimed at simultaneously restoring resources, alleviating poverty and
reversing the degradation processes in agricultural land. This has been dubbed as the
Win:Win scenario [32]. in which improved human welfare (sustainable rural livelihoods)
and the causes of environmental degradation are tackled together.
From the above, it can be seen that there are many opportunities for Cameroon for more
intensive and imaginative agriculture. Sustainable agriculture can be achieved by
diversifying farming systems, using news ways of production and moving towards the
lower use of chemical inputs thus agro-forestry. A sustainable agriculture can increase
yields and maintain the ecosystem at the same time while bringing income into the
economy. The development of the agricultural sector is key to strategic development of
Cameroon on the whole.
4.2 Improvements through Social Capacity Building
4.2.1 Justification for social capacity
Building social capacity in communities is an important aspect which accelerates
sustainable development. Capacity building is an essential step not only in preparing
national sustainable development strategies but also serve as a strategic element that will
help create social change towards sustainability in the communities of Cameroon.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, Sustainable capacity-building
encompasses the building of organizational and technical abilities, behaviours,
relationships and values that enable individuals, groups and organizations to enhance
their performance effectively and to achieve their development objectives over time. It
includes both strengthening the processes, systems and rules that shape collective and
individual behaviours and performance in all development endeavours as well as people's
ability and willingness to play new developmental roles and to adapt to new demands and
situations”.
Capacity building in this context refers to the development, empowerment fostering and
support of resources and relationships at the systems levels. Building social capacity will
allow participation at the community level in the protection and sustainable management
of natural resources. An important aspect in social capacity building is empowering the
local communities. A lot can be achieved through community-based learning centres for
sustainable development. Building capacity allows communities to share their expertise
44
and enhance their capabilities thus meeting the needs of creation, affection and
understanding.
In Cameroon social capacity building in communities should focus on poverty
eradication which covers employment and sustainable livelihood, equality, creating an
environment for social development and sustainable management of environmental
resources. Social capacity building should inspire development in related areas such as
sustainable tourism, infrastructure development thus opening the way for Cameroonians
to be self-employed. Inspirations should be taken from Case studies such as The Kenyan
“Green Belt Movement” founded by Wangari Maathai and the “Seed Of Change”
Vandana Shiva.
4.2.2 Case studies for social Capacity
Vandana Shiva is one of the world's most powerful voices for global environmental
justice and cultural and ecological diversity. In her book “sowing the seeds of change”
she decries environmental exploitation in all forms and encourages biodiversity
conservation and protection of people’s rights from threats to their livelihoods and
environment by centralized systems of monoculture in forestry, agriculture and fisheries
The Green Belt Movement (GBM) is a grassroots non-governmental organization (NGO)
based in Kenya that focuses on environmental conservation, community development and
capacity building. The vision is to create a society of people who consciously work for
continued improvement of their environment, and a greener, cleaner Kenya. The Green
Belt Movement mobilizes community consciousness for self-determination, equity,
improved livelihoods securities and environmental conservation- using tree planting as an
entry point. Building of social capacity in Cameroon with inspiration drawn from the
Green Belt movement does not mean only the planting of trees, it means the
revolutionarization of the agricultural sector. At this point it is important to make
mention of the fact that agriculture contributes nearly a third of the country's gross
domestic product. The present assessment of agricultural produce and environmental
impacts show a decline in production and a loss of farmland biodiversity. Future trends
project more decline. In order for Cameroon to sustainably increase production while
protecting and conserving the environment, it needs enhance people’s capabilities and
strategically implement some measures taken from successful Case studies with stories of
meaning like the Green belt movement of Kenya and Seed of Change of India.
4.2.3 Solution for social capacity building
In Cameroon, social capacity building could be exemplified by the women’s grass roots
movements supported by NGO´s in the various communities. In the South West province
of Cameroon, NGO´s that could build capacity in communities are the GTZ and
Organisation of Peace. The leverage points for this work are agriculture and social
capacity building and this implies that aim is to alleviate poverty, political, economic and
social abuse. Women play a great role in building capacity in communities therefore,
empowering women through small projects are essential to build capacities in the
communities of Cameroon. The reason for this is due to the fact that most tribes in
45
Cameroon are matrilineal and statistics have shown that women are influential at the
local level. Other development projects that are already taking place at the grass root
level that could be expanded are the recycling of compost form cow faeces done by the
Tiko and fako women groups, the rearing of snails and pigs by the Yoke and Bakundu
women associations respectively. Small development projects that could build social
capacity in the communities of Cameroon and at the same time be economically
profitable are small organic gardens, compost recycling and reuse, and the planting of
trees to restore biodiversity. Products from these sources could be sold and the money
used for sustainable community development projects.
46
5 Discussion
At the beginning of this study, some hypotheses were formulated to investigate and
analyze the activities of communities in Cameroon. I came out with the following results
after testing these hypotheses.
The information got from this study shows that the current operations in the political,
economic, social and environmental spheres in Cameroon are unsustainable. A look at the
political, economic and social structure and the environment reveals that features such as
fear, violence, marginalization, hyperinflation, huge external debt, unemployment, capital
flight, corruption and misappropriation, frustration and environmental degradation are
apparent in the society. These features serve as political, socio-economic and
environmental abuses and stand as a stumbling block for people meeting their needs in
the Cameroon society thereby degrading the social “fabric”.
This study also found out that, factors such as lack of freedom of speech and freedom of
association restraint people in communities to organized themselves in effective social
structures and undermine the capacity of meeting needs. This supports hypothesis two
examined in chapter two of this study.
The matrix of the needs and satisfiers above (Table 2.1) shows that the needs of
Subsistence, protection, understanding, participation, creation, identify and freedom are
not met in many of the communities in Cameroon. Obstacles to meeting these needs were
brought out in Table 3.1
The linkage between local ecological degradation, global environmental stress, and
adverse indirect effects of hazardous situations, and the events on poverty, employment,
balance of trade and foreign indebtedness have become constraints to the development
plans of Cameroon and many African countries. Indeed, they have become a significant
negative influence on the poorest segments of the population which have limited spatial
options to site investments, critical and lifeline facilities.
An economic system that causes global climate change, despoliation of rivers, and loss of
topsoil is the same system that is causing poverty, suffering, and deracination of
communities worldwide. To that end, Cameroon has to work towards the reinvention of
how materials and resources are utilized in order to create a productivity revolution, one
that will reduce our resource footprint nations by 90% in the next forty to fifty years
while increasing the quality of life for all living beings. Dramatically reducing our
ecological footprint will require that we use less of what we are running out of(resources
and living systems) while creating dignified, living wage jobs for the one resource we
have more of (human beings who want to add value to the world). The present economic
system, one that marginalizes people and the environment, is the most costly system
possible and moving towards restorative, sustainable practices is the least cost alternative.
We need to strive to identify and work with others to reimagine our economic and social
system to help people transform their lives, livelihoods, and economies.
47
Improving the health, income, education and living conditions of the poor majority
should remains the top policy imperative for ensuring the political stability and social
sustainability needed to move toward greater economic and environmental sustainability.
While adopting the innovative approach of Agenda 21 for integrating environment and
development, a third crucial element equity should be added. Greater equity is needed
throughout the region of Cameroon in the distribution of the opportunities and benefits of
national economic development and international aid programmes. At present, too few
national and international aid programmes reach or benefit the poor majority. On this
account, Cameroon should develop a new policy and strategy for environmental and
natural resources management for equitable and sustainable development which supports
economic, social and environmental sustainable forms of development.
“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved with the same mindset that created it”
Albert Einstein18
There is need for us to change our mindsets towards preserving ourselves and earth
systems. We should therefore maintain the social and natural potentials of these
communities so that we can achieve a sustainable society and promote long lasting
development.
As discussed earlier in this thesis, agriculture and social capacity building are strong
leverage points for Cameroon which could be used to move strategically towards
sustainability. The implementation of some key aspects in social capacity building like
compose recycling, planting of trees, and organic farming in general will serve positive
strides towards sustainability. By raising momentum through the World Bank and other
international Ngo´s like SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and Health
Partners International by making them link demand on Cameroon administration
especially to the local levels to their loans and knowledge.
In Cameroon just like in any system, there are leverage and choke points that allow
relatively small initiatives to have a great influence over the entire system. On the
surface, our ability to restore our social fabric and the environment are blocked by lack of
money, political corruption, and corporate influence. We are told that sustainability and
restoration are too expensive. I believe the strategy is a strategic approach and a change
in the present system towards restorative, sustainable practices which is the least cost
alternative. The benefits of this strategy are that today's problems are viewed from a
future sustainability perspective. The question then becomes how we can move
strategically toward our vision rather than solely being focused on solving problems.
Some smart early moves for Cameroon are the institution of a fair democracy,
reconstruction of the economy by strengthening capacity-building programmes related to
economic and corporate governance, incorporation of the golden rule in every sector of
18
A quote by Albert Einstein on the need to change mindsets over time.
www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Albert Einstein/31
48
the society and building momentum in local communities through social capacity
building. These moves are smart because they are flexible and possible already.
Some potential benefits include building social capacity and strengthening the social
fabric, reduced expenses for resources and waste, avoidance of future liability, enhanced
innovation, and improved internal morale and motivation.
In order to summarise the sustainability assessment, a SWOT analysis for Cameroon was
also done showing the strengths and opportunities against the weaknesses and threats.
Table 5.1 gives a detail analysis of this.
Analysis of current reality provides knowledge about aspects and relevant operations that
significantly impact the possibilities for Cameroon to reach its vision. A summarized
SWOT analysis for Cameroon is provided below.
5.1 Strengths
•
•
•
•
•
One of the strong political strengths of Cameroon is that it has generally enjoyed
stability which has permitted the development of agriculture.
Economically, because of its favourable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has
one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa
and it is blessed with a vibrant private sector. Furthermore, it is of importance to
note that Cameroon is amongst the top twenty producers in the world for seven
agricultural products (cocoa, coffee, banana cotton, rubber, oilseed, and timber)
and this is thanks to the diversified agriculture and fertile soil.
Socially, Cameroon is called “Africa in miniature” by many because it is blessed
with great cultural, ethnic and geographic diversity and human resources in the
fact that it has a relatively high school enrolment rate and a well educated labour
force and industrious population. The abundance of natural resources and
favourable climate for agriculture serves as an environmental strength to
Cameroon.
Cameroon is culturally diversified with approximately 250 ethnic groups with
unique homes and lifestyles. There also exists a strong bond within the
communities. Cultural unity comes through songs and stories of meaning leading
to social cohesion within each community. Another social opportunity is that
Cameroon has plenty of entrepreneur minded and hard working people and just a
little need to be done us them to use these potentials. In addition to the above, the
bilingual nature of Cameroon should be used to their advantage considering the
fact that they are members of the Common wealth and Francophonie amongst
other associations.
Cameroon is blessed with a very rich biodiversity with four different functional
ecological zones: the evergreen forest that covers the South and the Littoral
provinces of Cameroon along the Atlantic coast; the inland humid forests that are
a part of the Congo basin found in the Northwest, West and Adamawa provinces;
the marine ecosystem in the coastal belt and finally the Sahel ecosystem in the
Northern provinces of Cameroon.
49
5.2 Weaknesses
•
•
•
A great weakness politically, is that despite the movements towards democratic
reforms, political power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy.
Economically, Cameroon just like some other African countries has an
unfavourable climate for business enterprises.
Socially, ethnic conflict exercised through tribalism, egoism, nepotism,
sectionalism and corruption has led to lack of social cohesion between the
different segments of the population in the country.
5.3 Opportunities
•
•
•
•
Ability to ensure future political stability.
Economically, richly endowed with agricultural products, Cameroon has ideal
conditions to ensure its food security now and in future and thus achieve more
effective agricultural exports. Another economic opportunity is the existence of
the remnants of the green revolution which if used sustainably could be a great
advantage. The green revolution therefore stands as a great opportunity for a
positive stride towards social cohesion.
Cameroon presents an exceptional environmental diversity that gives the country
opportunities for long term development.
Diversity if use positively could be used to strengthen future interaction.
5.4 Threats
•
•
•
•
Political threats to Cameroon includes; extensive corruption, political
assimilation, oppression and tribalism.
Economically, unemployment, corruption and embezzlement amongst others
stand as a threat to the economic prosperity of the country.
One of the serious social problems faced by Cameroon is that of diseases such as
HIV and Malaria which is taking a toll among the young population who are the
leaders of tomorrow. Another threat is brain drain where many of the skilled
personnel leave the country because of the poor working conditions, poor wages
and lack of employment. More so, Cameroonian faced a threat from poverty and
inequitable access to resources taking into consideration that majorities of the
people are in the low income level.
Environmentally, Cameroon is exacerbated by deforestation and soil erosion,
extensive commercial logging, overgrazing, desertification, poaching and over
fishing. As a result, several important ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating
because of unsustainable exploitation. Similarly, because of intensive
exploitation, Cameroon’s forest has been loosing 100,000hectares per year over
the last two decades. Like many developing countries hit by economic crisis
resulting in abject poverty, these rich ecosystems have come under threat from
both local communities, logging companies and professional poachers.
50
Table 5.1. The SWOT Analysis
Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities Threats
Political
Political Stability
Ethnic Oligarchy
Ability to ensure
future political
stability
Economic
Favorable agricultural
conditions and the
best-endowed primary
commodity economies
in sub-Saharan Africa
A vibrant private
sector.
Top 20 product of 7
agricultural goods
Unfavourable
climate
for
business
enterprises
Social
Diversification in
language, culture and
people
human resources and
educational potentials
in the fact that it has a
relatively high school
enrolment rate and a
well educated labour
force.
Bilingual nature of
Cameroon
Strong bong within
each community
entrepreneur minded
and hard working
people.
Africa in Miniature
because of its diversity
in culture, language,
people and landscape.
Ethnic conflict
exercised
through
tribalism,
egoism,
nepotism,
sectionalism and
corruption
Lack of a strong
social bond
Environmental Abundant natural
resources Favourable
climate
51
Ideal conditions
to ensure food
security now and
in future to
achieve effective
agricultural
exports.
Existence of the
remnants of the
green revolution
Political
Assimilation
Tribalism
oppression
Corruption and
embezzlement
Unemployment
Diversity if use
positively could
be used to
strengthen future
interaction
Diseases such as
HIV and Malaria
Brain DrainPoverty and
inequitable access
to resources
Cameroon
presents an
exceptional
environmental
diversity that
gives the country
Resource
degradation
through
Deforestation and
soil erosion
Extensive
opportunities for
long term
development.
commercial
logging,
overgrazing,
desertification,
poaching and over
fishing.
An important aspect in all communities is the social fabric. During this study it was found
out that the circumstances within communities in Cameroon do not allow for social
cohesion. It is very important for Cameroon to strategically build social capacity to
strengthen the social fabric.
Concerning the agricultural sector, Information gathered showed that even though
agriculture is the economic mainstay, it is undergoing serious crisis. Figure 3 shows the
cycle of biophysical and socio-economic processes causing ecosystem degradation,
biodiversity loss, and the breakdown of ecosystem function, in agricultural land in
Cameroon. This table illustrates the fact that deforestation does not only cause ecosystem
degradation but lead to loss of income, malnutrition, declining livelihood, poverty and
increase health risks. Furthermore, In spite of all great potentials that Cameroon possess,
( being one of the wealthiest African countries having one of the best endowed primary
commodity economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and is amongst the top twenty producers of
seven agriculture products) it is facing an economic crisis. Some other serious problems it
faces include a top-heavy civil service and a generally unfavourable climate for business
enterprise. It was also discovered that since 1990, the government has embarked on
various IMF and World Bank programs designed to spur business investment, increase
efficiency in agriculture, improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks but all these
initiatives do not ameliorate the situation.
Cameroon needs “social capital” which, if left unattended, will weaken the foundation for
sustainable growth and undermine the country’s social fabric. Overall, indicators of
human development have considerably deteriorated during the crisis years-1990-2001,
particularly in education and health, and recent economic improvements have not yet
been sufficient and sustained enough to fully remedy the situation.
These social problems have become acute with rapid growth (5 percent) of Cameroon’s
urban population which places considerably pressure on social service and infrastructure.
Without adequate and sustained attention, these developments may transform major
urban centres into breeding grounds for poverty and insecurity eroding Cameroon’s
social capital and undermining the very competitive assets it needs to integrate fully into
the global economy.
By using principles for sustainability, and backcasting from a future sustainable reference
situation, I observed negative social and ecological impacts and the present understanding
of those. Emphasis was made that improvement proposal should not only deal with
current problems, but should take a structured system’s view with a backcasting
perspective which are fruitful steps in the path of sustainability. Cameroon should
52
systematically guide its development towards sustainability in this way so that it stands a
fair chance of being affected less severely by unexpected risks and world trends.
53
6 Conclusion
The natural resources of Cameroon are the setting for some of today's most intense
interactions between efforts to reduce poverty and efforts to conserve biodiversity. When
these interactions go wrong, people go hungry and other species go extinct. While
carrying out the strategic sustainability plan for Cameroon using backcasting from
principles, I came out with the current unsustainable practices of Cameroon. The situation
demands a change from un-sustainability to sustainability.
As a result, problems relating to the political, economic, socio-cultural and environmental
arena were brought out. Furthermore, some strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and
threats were also uncovered. Agriculture stood as a great opportunity for Cameroon.
Also, it was noted that, the key to development seems to be social capacity building and
investment in sustainable agricultural practices with strategies drawn from examples of
the social change initiatives from the Green Belt movement in Kenya and Seeds of
Change in India. An implementation of policies are needed that spur development in
directions that yield more sustainable systems of land use in nature, improving the wellbeing of people without degrading these unique and fragile environments to a point that
they no longer support people or biodiversity.
Ensuring social and ecological sustainable development in Cameroon in the coming years
will require considerable and continuing effort by all stakeholders. With the respect,
cooperation and support of all stakeholders, the Cameroon population is likely to succeed
in leading the effort towards achieving a healthy and sustainable society. If people work
together to improve the society and environment, then we will be able to yield political,
economic and social benefits while minimizing our environmental cost for the
foreseeable future.To achieve a socially sustainable society, changes in policy and
activities at all levels from the individual, national and international are needed. To this
end, the government, communities and the whole society at large ought to coperate
promoting and facilitating sustainable development at the local, regional and national
level.
54
7 Recommendations
It is of great importance for Cameroon to implement measures working towards a
socially sustainable society. Socially sustainable measures will help advance the political,
economic and social atmosphere while preserving the environment. Some of the
recommendations that I came up with during the course of this study are;
7.1 Government
Politically, there should be the implementation of both ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’
strategies to favour active participation of all those concerned in open negotiations,
transparent decision-making mechanisms, and the formulation of urban-management
policies.
There should be the use of a strategic approach towards governance and management of
Communities action-oriented projects on sustainable and integrated urban-development
strategies geared towards a participatory approach and the revitalization of communities,
training and capacity building.
The Cameroon government should articulate around a stable micro-economic and sector
strategies for accelerating growth, and poverty reduction in order to help Cameroon
achieve sustainable development.
The government should diversify the economy in order to accelerate growth. The
economic diversification strategy should rest on the following essential pillars:
•
•
•
Support private operators to foster production and securing population revenue
and food security in the rural areas.
Promote competitiveness and support development of manufacturing industries
like agro-industries, and textile manufacturing to increase the contribution of
these industries to growth.
Promote tourism19, information and communication technologies, sustainable
transport and finances. Cameroon has important tourism assets which can be
developed to increase value added, generate foreign exchange and create
opportunities to the poor, especially in handicraft and related services. In this
context a tourism sector strategy could include several programs such as:
o Promoting tourism activities.
o Develop priority sites, drafting an investment code for tourism.
o Undertake studies for the integration of young graduates into the tourism
sector thus creating employment.
19
Cameroon has 10 national parks, 6 fauna reserves, 1 fauna sanctuary, 3 zoological gardens, 35 hunting
areas and 10community managed hunting areas.
55
Implementing such actions plans will increase private investment in related activity
sectors such as transport, financial services, agro-businesses, agro-industry and
handicrafts and help to meet the needs of the people in society. The government should
also:
•
Strengthen the private sector and support growth by allocating adequate public
resources to priority sectors.
The Cameroon government should accelerate the implementation of the forestry section
reform agenda20, which will ensure sustainable exploitation and increase value added in
the sector while at the same time preserving Cameroon’s heritage.
The government should institute measures to protect the soil against erosion. For
instance, put up measures for the population to avoid entirely cutting down trees
(deforestation) since powerful roots fix the soil and slow down the speed of running
water. These trees also play the role of “wind breakers” and protect fragile plants like tea.
To combat pedological degradation the government should institute measures of
protecting soil richness especially avoiding the poisoning of underground water sources
by controlled use of chemical fertilizers.
7.2 Industry
The private sector which serves as the cornerstone will contribute to build a stronger
domestic saving and become an effective partner for foreign investment drive towards
economic growth. Reforms in specific areas should be taken such as:
•
•
•
•
•
Improving the physical environment for business by accelerating the development
of a sustainable transport system, telecommunication, sustainable energy supply
and sustainable distribution of infrastructure.
Improving the institutional and regulatory framework and delivery of more
efficient public services to society and business.
Enhance security for investment for improving the judiciary system and
implementing a new business legal framework.
Promote Cameroonian products on external markets.
Promote dialogue and partnership with private sector organizations.
20
The forestry section reform agenda is a reform that is suppose to a) promote sustainable exploitation
while preserving the ecological stability, b) foster community participation in conserving and managing
this national forestry heritage, c) enhance forest-based income opportunities for village communities and
improve the livelihood of the rural population living in the forest zones by granting local communities
priority rights to designate “community forest” and to remit quote-part of collected forestry tax revenues to
local communities.
56
7.3 Government and industries together
Also the government and industries should support and use the private sector as the prime
instrument for wealth creation and social services development and delivery. Specific
target components for micro-enterprises should be reinforced and private sector
participation in capacity building including the supplying of social services such as
education and health. Hence there should be an effort to:
•
•
•
•
Develop infrastructure to support production and social sectors. Priority should be
given to infrastructure development to improving the road network in lengths and
quality, improving access to drinking water, extending coverage in sustainable
electricity power to remote rural areas and take immediate action to correct
current deficiencies in overall power supply.
Environmentally, a sustainable management of Cameroon’s important national
resources will certainly contribute to enhancing growth in industries, export and
tourism, thus generating foreign exchange while also significantly improving the
livelihood of Cameroon’s population.
The cornerstone of Cameroon’s social strategic should be capacity building and
enhancing human resources. This priority will serve as a direct response to the
challenge of a growing and increasingly young population. It will strengthen the
social sphere and human capital formation thus laying out the strong foundation
for medium and long term growth.
The government and industry should create employment opportunities and
integrate vulnerable groups into the economy. The promotion of incomes
generating activities, including self-employment for the poor constitute a
sustainable response to poverty and the meet of the needs of the Cameroon
communities.
7.4 Community
Efforts should be made to improve agriculture in Cameroon. Sustainable agriculture will
greatly reduced unemployment, encouraged international trade and improved social
services in the country. Some recommendations in the agricultural sector are;
•
The population should be initiated to the technique of compost so that they will be
able to recycle their domestic waste.
• Responsible methods should be applied to utilize resources without exhausting
them.
• Social capacity building programs through education should be instituted and
encouraged.
The application of a strategic policy and a revision of attitudes will make Cameroon
achieve success without putting in danger the ecological equilibrium of their environment
and thereby maintaining long lasting development. To arrive at this objective, we should
57
first proceed in educating the masses, show them the degree of destructions that their
unsustainable behaviour causes, and then the vision of a sustainable society.
8 Issues for further research
The outcome of this study suggests further exploration in the following areas:
•
•
•
A comparative analysis should be made of the changes in governance, economy
and social atmosphere, the issues of environment and gender in African
communities and also the relationships between such changes and the underlying
social, cultural, economic, and political processes.
There is a need to carry out research analyzing the key constituents of a social
system and how it functions in the African setting.
Finally, a study should be carried out on the best methods and measurement to
help monitor and report on the various aspect of sustainability in African society.
58
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