21 July 2006

Cameroon: Savouring the Benefits of Responsible Forest Management

For Elangwe Regina, it was still like a dream."Oh! I am the happiest woman today. I will not sleep this night. I have received some money, which will solve so many problems. I have 10 children; some of the money will be spent on buying books, food and more cocoa seedlings for my farm, I have no husband," she exploded with joy.

I live solely from what comes from my farm, she confessed. Mami Elangwe's euphoric outburst was prompted by compensation she received from a logging company, Transformation Reef Cameroon, TRC.

The Centre for Environment and Development, CED, Yaounde, Cameroon, had talked TRC into compensating some villagers and villages in Kupe Muanenguba and Meme Divisions of the Southwest Province. CED had been working with World Conservation Union, IUCN, and World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, under the banner of Central Africa Forest and Poverty Alleviation Programme, CAFPAP. These three organisations are working together towards poverty alleviation.

Another beneficiary, Emmanuel Nanje, speaking in tears, declared, "whenever I think of what TRC did on my farm, I cannot hold back my tears. My entire farm was wiped out. But I now know they are not bad people.

I have received so much money and chemicals to spray my farm to plant more cocoa and fruits," Nanje said. He hoped other logging companies would emulate the example of TRC.

Mama Rose Mbole, who took home some money, too, was all praise for TRC and CED. "I am so happy with TRC. I also thank CED for making us understand we must fight for what belongs to us. We shall be alert in future. My cocoa farm was destroyed; they cut a big tree, which destroyed my crops.

I will use the money to pay people to clear more farmlands. I will also take care of my grandchild."A hernia patient, Mama Mbole promised to spend the money to pick her hospital bills. "I will now go to the hospital and buy my medication."

James Njumbe, 42, is an electrician whose cocoa, plantains and fruit trees were destroyed. He to got compensated. "I thank them so much. I will use this money to buy more cocoa seedlings, extend my farm, construct a cocoa oven and care for my wife and children," Njumbe disclosed.

Some five years ago, TRC carried out illegal logging activities in these localities. The villagers, ignorant of their rights, let it go after farm lands were destroyed. Losses were worth millions of Francs CFA.

Being mostly farmers, who live mainly on sales of cocoa and other food crops, extreme poverty and hardship prevailed after this destruction, stated a released sent to The Post by Jane Molisa Mbella, CAFPAP Intranet Officer.

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