Cameroon faces a wide range of environmental, political and social challenges. Often referred to as ‘Africa in miniature’ because it contains of its diverse climate and geography, it is heavily reliant on agriculture. As a result, a large proportion of Cameroonians live in isolated rural areas.
These rural communities tend to be disproportionally poor and lack basic infrastructure. It is this lack of infrastructure, such as schools, clinics, sanitation systems and roads, which perpetuates extreme poverty and slows progress towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. You cannot, for instance, halt the spread of HIV without health clinics. Nor can you end extreme poverty without building the educational facilities needed to develop the skills and knowledge that helps people find work. The project will empower local communities to design what infrastructure they need and support them in making it become a reality. The partner on this project, Cameroon Catalyst, has already carried out work on in the village of Bambouti, in North East Cameroon, resulting in the construction of a community health centre, a school, business incubation workshops and a solar-powered electricity hub. Following this success, Article 25 will be using our expertise to help develop a best practice model for undertaking community led infrastructure, which can then be rolled out across the country. This model is focuses on:
- how to run and manage community dialogue and workshops
- the importance of incorporating locally available materials and equipment in projects
- training on project accounting and maintenance
- building the capacity of community groups to network and lobby their government for help with maintaining and building new infrastructure
Due to high levels of cultural and geographical diversity in Cameroon there will be no one-size-fits-all solution to the development of infrastructure in each village. The project will place particular importance on community participation and leadership, to ensure the right projects are chosen and that the resulting infrastructure is valued and maintained by locals. The first stage of this project will lead to the development of necessary infrastructure in 10 villages in North Eastern Cameroon. In this first stage we will directly benefit approximately 3,500 people. Once completed, we will evaluate what we can be learned for a regional scale-up and support the schemes further roll-out.