The CBDRM activity was carried-out under the framework of GNDR’s work on AFL and Frontline. The aims of AFL and Frontline were to engage with local communities in identified risk prone zones, to further understand the drivers, underlying causes, impact and any response approaches in place or plans by either the local communities or from external assistance to the community. An approach requiring learning, regular reflection and action was adopted.
The CBDRM work carried out under Frontline and AFL depended on the community's knowledge of their community and environment, their risk coping strategies and how such knowledge could be shared among the members of the community. What knowledge from elsewhere could be shared with the community members to ameliorate their conditions etc. We had the role of facilitation and guidelines for undertaking AFL were used which stipulated the need to explore ways of undertaking joint regular reflection in focus groups with members of the community, including learning from one another and designing collective community actions to curb the occurrence of landslides and minimising the impact should they occur.
Two focus groups discussions were carried out quite often. One was with the women's group and the other with the men. We realised that based on the societal structure, women will hardly speak-up freely in the presence of men. In some cases the women have limited land property rights and will not talk about issues link to landed properties and effective protection of homes from landslide. However, they will be more concerned about the family including the children and husbands.
At the onset of the work, much of the focus was on a deeper understanding of the community predicaments linked to the occurrence of landslides in the community. A phenomenon we learnt resulted from the unconsolidated pyroclastic materials of past Mount Cameroon eruptions, which are relatively exposed and run down the slope during the raining season each year. The community members had explore several approaches to mitigate landslide occurrences in the community through the building of the embankment with oil-motor tyres, with a few members capable of affording such an embankment. GEADIRR introduced the planting of trees as a potential approach to holding soils from slipping. This approach has been working and we are continuing to work with the community in this direction.
One sustainable impact of the project has been that of changing the mindsets. A new mindset means that the inhabitants of this community are aware of the hazards and the need to avoid the human hand that should trigger a disaster. Some clear lessons passed on to the local community have included the need to avoid cutting the slopes of the hills and the need to regularly plant deep rooted trees to hold soils from slipping. One thing we feel ought to have been achieved is determining how to bring the members into some common community income generating sources that could contribute towards local community development.
Over the last 3-4 years, we have hardly noted casualties resulting from the occurrence of landslide in the community. The hazard still exists but the inhabitants are more sensitive than before the project in terms of their understanding of how to reduce the occurrence of landslides through not cutting into the hill slopes, and increasing effort into planting deep-rooted trees.
Sustainability is still a strong challenge. We are looking forward to any opportunities to deepen knowledge in this areas and bring out clearly how to transform dependence on short term funding to more sustainable approaches towards stabilisation of the systems. However, a big constraint to overcome here is that of fighting poverty, inequality and poor governance.
Cameroon is a heavily centralised state and the local government has limited resources to effectively engage in CBDRM. Most CBDRM work is carried out by CSOs and other related associations.
Local divisional officers and local council officers are responsible for local CBDRM. However the current structure focuses a lot more on the regional governors in charge of maintaining order and coordinating activities of DRR in the region.
Long-term funding is lacking. VFL 2011 highlighted this limitation though our work on local governance in DRR, showing that the lack of resources, limited inclusive approach, and the lack of participation of all stakeholders in the DRR process create poor governance in DRR in Cameroon and many countries around the work. Long term transformational projects are require for sustainable CBDRM.
We think the work carried out impacted positively on the participatory CSOs that contributed or were involved in the process in one way or another. One of these positive impacts is linked to the learning component. Every CSO gained valuable skills on issues linked to DRR. The questionnaires, administration analysis and presentations provided an opportunity to learn more about the project.
Entry points to community work here came through the local chiefs. Local chiefs are elected by the local populations and recognised by the state. This chiefs contributed to the endorsement of the CBDRM work, mobilised members of the community and provided some guidelines. However, DRR is under the Ministry of Terrestrial Administration which is still highly centralised with limited effort to transfer competencies to the local populations.