COTCO funds upgrade of Foyer Ngoyang
Since 2000 COTCO has contributed almost $7 million to FEDEC to help the organization carry out its mission to protect the indigenous people and the environment in Cameroon. Foyer Ngoyang, one of FEDEC’s most important projects, took a significant step forward in 2016 when its four buildings were substantially upgraded.
The indigenous Bakola/Bagyeli people, sometimes referred to as pygmies, are traditional hunter-gatherers living in the rainforest between Kribi and Lolodorf, an area traversed by the Chad/Cam- eroon pipeline. They face a number of challenges such as food insecurity, poor access to education and health care and a history of marginalization. In 2001, with funding from COTCO and support from Ngoyang municipality, FEDEC began providing financial support to Foyer Ngoyang, which is a home for Bakola/ Bagyeli children when their parents are away, thus enabling them to attend the village school more easily. Some Bantu children from the town also stay at the Foyer as part of a program to promote friendship and integration between the two groups.
When FEDEC reported in 2016 that the deteriorating condition of the building complex was detracting from the project’s success, COTCO decided to donate $30,000 (18.5 FCFA) for the refurbishment and upgrade of the buildings. In addition to interior and exterior paint and roofing materials, the roofs were raised to increase cooling and create more space. An unused building that was falling into disrepair was converted into a large, comfortable dining and study hall for the children.
As a result of these improvements, an intensified outreach effort and other changes in the program, the Foyer attracted and retained 120 children in 2016, almost double the number in 2015. To help children who run away to the forest to see their parents during the schoolyear, the Foyer staff organizes field trips to Bakola/Bagyeli camps in the forest for visits.
Mebere Yemefa'a Serge Rostand
Program Coordinator, FEDEC
“Now that the refurbishment has been finished, we are looking at future components of our strategy, like expanding the existing banana farm into a larger working and teaching farm. This will not only generate revenue to help sustain the Foyer, but it will also help teach the children how to farm, something that is new to their culture.”
CAO mediation results in three agreements
The project’s Environmental Management Plan (EMP) recognizes that some disputes with communities and other stakeholders may defy settlement through the regular grievance resolution process. Starting in 2011, the project voluntarily began participating in a mediation process administered by the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) to resolve a few particularly contentious disputes. The process involves a thorough exploration of the issues at hand, including a series of mediated discussions aimed at finding common ground and ultimately resulting in a solution acceptable to both parties. In 2016, among the last three out- standing cases in Cameroon two were resolved through this process, and EEPCI reached an agreement in its one outstanding case.
Settlemement with Bagyeli people
In 2014 Bagyeli people in southern Cameroon complained that they had been forced to move from their camp after construction of the pipeline in the Bipindi area and they lost the right to use land on which they had agricultural plantations or other forest resources. They also asserted that FEDEC’s Indigenous People’s Program did not meet their needs.
The CAO mediation process led to implementation of a protocol in the fall of 2016 that called for FEDEC, COTCO and the Bagyeli community to participate in the opening of 12 hectares for farms in four communities; planting of banana trees and cacao in farms that were ready; creation of nurseries for the farms that will be planted in 2017; launch of the first FEDEC/Bagyeli consultation meeting in December; and an organized workshop to train a Bagyeli NGO on basic management of their organizations.
The settlement helps the Bagyeli hunter-gatherers who suffer from chronic food instability adjust to a farming life. It also transforms unclaimed forest land into productive land, giving the Bagyeli a resource they have historically lacked. By turning the land into active farmland, the Bagyeli can legally claim it as their own, providing them with land rights for the first time.
Wide ranging agreement reached in Chad
A dispute that began in 2011 involved NGO representatives of Chadian farmers and other community members who claimed EEPCI had not adequately compensated individuals and communities for a number of alleged project impacts. EEPCI did not agree with the complaint, and in 2012 it and the complainants agreed to engage in the dispute resolution process administered by the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO).
In late 2016, after extensive fact finding, consultations and mediation, the parties agreed on a series of measures, including establishing a consultative forum for future collaboration. The forum will focus on implementing the accord, and it will become the vehicle for all future collaboration between EEPCI and the NGOs representing the communities in Chad’s oil producing region. For its part of the agreement, EPPCI will take eight actions involving land use, the environment, local development and compensation. The NGOs agreed that the agreement addresses the communities’ concerns.
Resolution reached with Kribi Fishermen Association
For years CDDM + 10, an association that represents fishermen along the southern Cameroon port of Kribi, claimed that the 12-kilometer underwater pipeline from Kribi to the FSO caused a decline in fish populations and disrupt- ed their fishing activities. Although COTCO did not agree, the project prioritizes listening to community concerns near its operations and providing assistance where it can. As a result, the company participated in the CAO process to find an acceptable solution. The mediation concluded in 2016, and COTCO agreed to help the fishermen through several activities, including installing facilities at the main fishery in Kribi. These included building a fuel station, a cool room to store fish, a supply shop fully-stocked with equipment like nets and providing paint to maintain the fishing fleet. While the settlement has been agreed to by all parties, the company and the fisherman are waiting for authorization from Cameroon’s Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries to begin construction of the fuel station.
Djanga Jean Leonard
Member, CDDM + 10 (Fishermen’s Association)
“The process took a long time, but at the end we are satisfied. Now, it is next for COTCO to deliver what was promised, but we have a good perception of the company. Even if the company had not agreed to the settlement, we are satisfied that they took our concerns seriously and took a lot of time to listen and discuss.”
“Nkuli Makeli, The Drumbeat of the Bakola/Bayeli Voice”
By broadcasting cultural and health related programming in four languages deep into the forests in southern Cameroon, a new community radio station now provides the indigenous Bakola/ Bagyeli people with access to important information. The station’s first funding came from the Canadian Consulate with additional support from FEDEC’s Indigenous Peoples Program, which is designed to address some of the cultural, health and economic challenges faced by this population.
Founded in 2016, the station is called “Nkuli Makeli,” which translates into “The Drumbeat of the Bakola/Bagyeli Voice.” It has an effective radius of 70 km – enough to reach its intended audience of the 4,000 Bakola/Bagyeli estimated to be living in the forest between Kribi and Lolodorf in southern Cameroon, as well as their Bantu neighbors. ADEPA, the Bakola/Bagyeli community organization that helped found the station, hopes the programming will bring the two groups closer together; strengthen their connection with the Cameroonian community at large; and create a forum to discuss important issues such as health, education and culture. For many people, the station is the only way they can access such information - an important cultural lifeline.
Nkuli Makeli is led by a Bakola/Bagyeli president and employs four people. Programming is primarily educational and delivered in Bakola/Bagyeli, Bantu, French and some English. It airs during the early mornings and evenings when the target audience is mostly likely to be at home.
General Manager Ngoun Nzié Nestor is an expert in the field of community radio. His job has been to establish the station; teach the Bakola/Bagyeli how to manage fundraising, marketing, production and technical operations; and then transition out, leaving a sustainable structure in place.
Ngoun Nzié Nestor
General Manager, Nkuli Makeli
“Between Mali, Nigeria and Cameroon there are at least 1000 languages spoken, so it’s very important to be able to communicate to people in their own languages since national programming is often not relevant or understandable to many within these populations.”
EMP Reportables – Non-compliance situations and spills
The EMP includes reporting standards for non-compliance situations (NCS). The three-level ranking system is designed to provide an early warning mechanism to detect issues and help correct non-compliant behaviors and practices well before they become serious enough to cause damage. The project recorded 0 Level II or Level III NCS in 2016.
The EMP requires the reporting of all spills equal to or greater than one barrel of oil, 10 barrels of produced water or 100 kilograms of a chemical. In 2016, EEPCI had three minor spills totaling 8.2 barrels of oil. One involved a rupture of a small flowline; the other two were the result of transformer oil thefts. All oil and contaminated soil was thoroughly cleaned up, and EEPCI intensified community outreach efforts to discourage thefts.