Capacity-building sessions for people living near projects targeted by the TRAP-GRN action in the center are bearing some fruit

In May, as part of the ongoing capacity-building sessions for communities living near agro-industrial and mining projects targeted by the Reinforcement of Transparency and Participation in the Management of Natural Resources project, the populations of the Haute Sanaga department benefited from these sessions. The beneficiaries were the people of the villages of AKAK, BIWONG, BOUNDJOU, EKANGA1, MENGANG and NKOAMBANG, who live near the land concession currently being allocated to the Chinese company Sino Cam Iko Agriculture, in the Nanga-Eboko district.

As a reminder, the aim was to equip these women with skills and knowledge that will enable them to  better defend their interests during land transfers  to  investors  for agro-industry and mining in their localities.

Over three days, modules on the role and responsibilities of the citizen, citizen watch, basic notions of community land rights, the contractual obligations of companies towards communities, group dynamics and local advocacy were taught.

At the end of the training, the sense of satisfaction expressed by all the beneficiaries was reflected in their firm resolve to defend their interests with the resources and tools they had acquired.

As a result, a number of encouraging initiatives were undertaken. These include the search for documents such as memorandums of understanding or contracts signed between the companies and the government, quarrying permits awarded, specifications, and the minutes of the various consultative commissions that met to delimit the areas. It should be pointed out that these documents contain information of crucial importance to them, in particular, the areas granted or to be granted, the exact locations,  the projects envisaged as well as  their durations and the contractual obligations of the companies installed or beneficiaries of the said concessions  in their localities vis-à-vis them.

Added to these initiatives is the mobilization of resources to obtain   land and mining texts such as the Land and Property Regime, the 2016 Mining Code,  as well as the multiplication of training materials at their expense… . This whole range of unprecedented actions initiated by the local people testifies to their firm awareness of the importance of good information for citizen watch.

On May 21 and June 11, they also held two meetings to discuss the creation of an association for the six villages bordering the Chinese company IKO’s Nanga-Eboko agroindustrial project. The association, which is in the process of being set up, will act as a local citizens’ observatory, concerned with issues relating to the allocation and management of land and mining concessions in their localities. In short, through this  association, the communities concerned wish to keep a watchful eye on the management of natural resources in their localities, in order to preserve their land rights and interests, and promote local and even national development.

All these dynamics demonstrate the communities’ genuine ownership of the skills acquired during the capacity-building sessions.

In short, like their counterparts in the South, the riverine populations of the Centre have jumped on the bandwagon   and are more determined than ever to defend their interests. Ongoing monitoring and support, even beyond the project’s contractual period, are of paramount importance if the expected results are to be achieved. All of which the Project Management Unit must take into account in the process of setting up the citizen watch system identified in the various areas targeted by the project.

By Clémence Martiale TABODO

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