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Up close: Community engagement in Cameroon

The modification of the existing Chad Export Project’s pipeline was completed in 2014 to support the construction of the Lom-Pangar hydroelectric dam in Cameroon. Construction of the dam and creation of its associated reservoir required the modification of 27 kilometers of the existing Chad Export Project’s pipeline. Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO) – partly owned by Esso Pipeline Investments Limited, an ExxonMobil affiliate – and the government-overseen Dam Project signed an agreement to manage the environmental and socioeconomic interfaces between the two projects. Their teams conducted joint community engagement sessions so the collective impacts and mitigation approaches for both projects could be identified and discussed. Employment opportunities were also addressed jointly, with both projects in the same area agreeing to better utilize the local worker pool and ensure work continuity between the two projects.

motocycles deng deng national park
Photo — COTCO-provided vehicles for Deng Deng National Park eco-guards.

One concern was that the new roads constructed for the projects could make access into the adjacent and newly created Deng Deng National Park (DDNP) more difficult to control. In response, COTCO entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Forest and Fauna to construct two guard posts at the DDNP entrance points and provide additional vehicles for eco-guards. In response to engagement with the local village of Biboko, COTCO funded a community house, which villagers had decided would best benefit the entire community.

The overlap between the two projects made the filing of grievances or complaints initially confusing to some local villagers. The projects collaborated to address those community concerns, with clear guidance as to which entity grievances should be directed. This approach allowed both projects to respond effectively to community concerns and maintain a good relationship with neighboring communities.