Demands by local residents of Biopalm

Claims by local residents of the land concession being awarded to BIOPALM  are producing some results…

In August 2015, the chiefs of the villages of Moungue, Gwap and Nkollo, neighbors of the land concession  being allocated to the company BIOPALM, had sent a correspondence to the Minister in charge of Domaines du Cadastre et des Affaires Foncières. In this letter, the latter, on behalf of the local population, informed the Minister of their opposition to the project. They also contested the delimitation of the areas allocated to BIOPALM, as the site or sacred grotto was located within them, and the areas set aside for living space proved to be largely insignificant in relation to their various needs for current uses, for the ever-growing population and for future generations. In protest, the local population dug up the boundary markers erected to demarcate the areas to be allocated to the company.

Following MINDCAF’s instructions in response to this correspondence, the Prefect of the Ocean Department, Chairman of the Consultative Commission, held a meeting in June 2016 in the presence of the company’s representative and the chiefs concerned, to hear the people’s grievances. The latter requested the removal of the sacred site from the concession to be awarded, as well as the enlargement of their living space.

Last month, the Prefect, still on the instructions of the Minister in charge of land issues, notified the traditional authorities of the villages concerned to identify the vital space on either side of the common sacred site that they consider indispensable for their various needs. This identification will be followed by physical demarcation by the land registry.

At the time of writing, the representatives of the populations of the three villages  are in conclave for the identification operations of the living space. The village elites have  mobilized maps of the three villages to identify these spaces, taking into account the different boundaries between each village. “It’s true that we didn’t and still don’t want BIOPALM, but the fact that the government has authorized us to identify the vital space will help preserve our sacred site, and increase the space we need,” says a resident of the village of Nkollo. According to some local residents, the government’s initiative is to be welcomed, since the first demarcations were carried out without consulting the local residents, let alone involving them. According to them, if the government takes into account the delimitation of their living space, it will necessarily reduce the areas to be allocated to BIOPALM, given the proximity between villages and the presence of several Forest Management Units (UEFA).

This case should serve as an example, and the government should continue in this direction for the other land concessions where local people are contesting the boundaries and the areas set aside for living space. The harmonious cohabitation of agro-industrial activities and the spaces essential to the survival of communities in the national territory depend on it.

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