Landslide at Mbankolo -Yaounde

Yaounde Landslide: Greenpeace Africa Urges Government To Improve Land Use Planning

By Leocadia Bongben

Greenpeace Africa has attributed the landslide that caused the deaths of about 30 people and left about 31 others injured to poor land use planning. Greenpeace Africa stressed that the incident could have been avoided given the recurrent landslides in Yaounde and in the country.

Stella Tchoukep, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, said, “The Mbankolo tragedy is not a new or isolated incident. Most frustratingly, it was predictable.

“Cameroon’s land-use planning process started in 2011 with the Orientation Law for Land Use Planning and Sustainable Development and the validation of the National Land Use Planning and Sustainable Development in 2016. Yet, no effective actions have been implemented thus far. Authorities must ensure that the land is suitable before settlement and restrict certain types of land use where geological and slope stability remain questionable.”

Photo Credit: National Climate Change Observatory

While expressing its deepest condolences to the families of the victims following the landslide in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, Greenpeace Africa urges the Cameroonian government to improve land-use planning for the safety of its citizens.

“Landslides cause considerable economic losses and are becoming more severe due to harmful emissions and obstructing climate action by the fossil fuel industry. It’s time these polluters pay for the loss and damage they caused,” Stella Tchoukep added

In October and November 2022, Yaounde recorded two other mortal landslides in Mimboman and Damas. A similar tragedy occurred in August 2021 in the town of Foumban, killing a father and his two children. Further landslides killed nearly 43 people in 2019 in the city of Bafoussam (West Cameroon).

Photo Credit: National Climate Change Observatory

Environmentalists Slam Cameroon Forestry Ministry Of Legal Irregularities In CAMVERT Project

Green Development Advocates and Greenpeace Africa have slammed the Cameroon government for legal irregularities.

An analysis note published on October 26 highlights three irregularities concerning the attribution of five timber sales in favour of the CAMVERT project. This project is found within the national domain in Campo in the South Region.

This is a worrying development especially a few days before COP 27, in which Cameroon, as in previous years, intends to take part, the NGOs state.  

Three violations of the law by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Jules Doret Ndongo are: the sale of timber after the concession was already granted for the CAMVERT Project, logs outside the CAMVERT concessions verified and a concession of three years not renewable cautioned by a competent commission.

According to the forest defenders “the orders for the sale of timber were signed on February 16, 2022, whereas the provisional concession decree was signed on March 7, 2022 by the Head of State, giving Camvert the right to operate in the field. Indeed, according to the regulations, the opposite should have happened; in order to give a legal basis justifying the sales of logs at this period. The Minister has put the cart before the horse‘, says Aristide Chacgom, GDA coordinator. 

Green DevelopmentAdvocates and Greenpeace wonder how the extension was justified when the decree was not signed.

Article 2 common to the various decrees states that the sales of cuttings result from the implementation of the CAMVERT SA palm grove extension project. “At this stage of the project, how and why can the extension be justified when, at the time of the signing of the decrees, the provisional concession had not even been awarded? The absurdity continued with the allocation of a single sale of salvage logging on the area (39,923 ha) that the President of the Republic would later allocate as a provisional concession. Verification by means of the GPS coordinates provided in the decrees shows that the other four sales of timber are outside the area allocated for exploitation by CAMVERT,” adds Aristide Chacgom. 

The argument runs that f timber in the national domain are only attributed after three years after a competent commission has voiced its opinion.

In the forests of the national domain, sales of timber are attributed after the opinion of a competent commission for a period of three (3) years, which is not renewable.” Contrary to this provision of paragraph 2 of article 55 of law N°94/01 of 20 January 1994 on the regime of forests, fauna and fisheries, Minister Jules Doret NDONGO has provided in his decrees in articles 13 and 14 that sales of timber are attributed for a period of one year with a renewal procedure. “When analyzing the practice of this ministerial department, it is certain that such a modification opens the door to manipulation of both volumes and attributable areas,” concludes Aristide Chacgom. 

Greenpeace Forest Campaigner , Stella Tchoukep cautioned that, “It is necessary to stop deceiving Cameroonians, local communities and indigenous peoples whose lives depend on the forest; a few days before the climate conferences, we once again call on the Government of Cameroon to stop destroying forests in violation of the rights of local populations and its international commitments in relation to the fight against climate change.”


Indigenous People Reliving Their Way Of Life: An EU Parliament Law Helpful?

The indigenous people of the Congo Basin may once again walk short distances in the near future smiling as they move with baskets on their backs into forest to harvest herbs, fruit and wood like in the good old days before big agro-businesses and artisanal logging destroyed their habitat.

Reliving like before for the Bakas, Bageli and others would mean implementing the law passed by the European Union Parliament on September 13.

The law, bans the import of deforestation products into the European Union. Initially on palm oil, soya, coffee and wood, the law has now been extended to include rubber.

Henceforth, Timber from deforestation henceforth would no longer be accepted in the EU.

According to Greenpeace Africa, this is a victory for “local communities and indigenous peoples of the Congo Basin who suffer massive deforestation by rubber industries.

The law is timely,  passed at a time when, “in Southern Cameroon, rubber company Sudcam has destroyed just over 11,000 ha of forest for its plantation and palm oil company Camvert continues to clear 40,000 ha of forest for its plantation, both done with total disregard for the disastrous impacts on the lives of local indigenous communities and biodiversity”, Greenpeace states.

In August Greenpeace organized a peaceful demonstration in front of the EU headquarters in Cameroon to demand that rubber be included in the list of commodities to be included in the into law.  

“The wellbeing of indigenous people is constantly violated by agrobusinesses for the benefit of cultivation,” said Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa.

The European Union will also consider  a law opposing the financial facilities that are granted to  agribusinesses by European banks,” he added.

“Greenpeace Africa calls world leaders, who are set to meet at major events to address climate change, to make decisions that prioritize the well-being of communities and the planet,” concluded Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja. 


Indigenous Communities Lend Voice To Web Influencers To Raise Awareness On Deforestation, Rights

It is against this backdrop that Greenpeace Africa, Green Development Advocates launched the campaign with influential web actors on August 17.

The web influencers would raise awareness on the fight against deforestation in Cameroon, as well as the protection of the rights of indigenous communities, the first victims of deforestation.

This comes at the heels of the celebration of the International Day of Indigenous People on the theme “The role of indigenous women in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge”.

At the invitation of Greenpeace Africa, three Cameroonian web influencers will be for the next 30 days,  ambassadors of the defense  of indigenous communities’ rights, and the preservation of Cameroonian forests.  They are Betatinz, Grand Lawrenzo and Future Milliardaire , some well-known figures on the social media landscape in Cameroon, notably Facebook, TikTok and Instagram.

“The collaboration aims to  amplify the voices of indigenous forest communities, whose rights are constantly violated by activities with high pressure on the forests, such as agro-industrial concessions, like the one awarded Camvert,” says Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Forest  Campaign Manager at Greenpeace Africa. 

Indeed, for nearly two years, Greenpeace Africa and GDA have been campaigning against Camvert, which has been granted a provisional concession of approximately 40,000 hectares, extendable to 60,000 hectares, to plant oil palm. And on the ground, the effects continue to torment the local indigenous communities, especially women, who are finding it increasingly difficult to contribute to the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge due to the gradual and alarming disappearance of the forest.

This is exactly what Marie Thérèse Anzouer, an indigenous Bagyeli woman, deplores when she says: ” Nice words have not yet succeeded in transforming our daily lives. The 2022 edition of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People focused on the crucial role that we women play in transmitting traditional values, but on the ground, everything that is the essence of these traditional values, namely the forest, is disappearing day by day.” 

To amplify their voice and their cry of alarm in the days to come, these influencers will raise awareness among their followers about environmental protection and the defence of the rights of indigenous communities. Beta Tinz, a web influencer taking part in the campaign, said, “We are all concerned about environmental issues. I am a woman and I know how difficult the economic situation is for me as a wife and mother at home. I can’t imagine the ordeal that indigenous women go through because of the cutting of trees in the forest, their main source of income. This is why I agreed to join this noble cause. ” 

Camvert Project

Greenpeace Africa Decries Worrying Deforestation In Cameroon Ahead Of Cop 26

“A few weeks before the COP 26, one of the strong results that Cameroon could present to the world would surely not be this very worrying rate of deforestation, but that it has decided, for example, to cancel the project of the company Camvert, which wants to destroy 60,000 hectares of forest to plant oil palm in the districts of Campo and Niete (South Cameroon)”Greenpeace Africa states.

Greenpeace, an international NGO committed to environmental protection has decried the worrying deforestation in Cameroon, urging government to cancel the Camvert project ahead of COP 26.

The Camvert project is said to destroy 60,000 hectares of forest to plant oil palm in the districts of Campo and Niete (South Cameroon).

The NGO indicates that projects such as those of Camvert and Sudcam or even industrial timber exploitation, currently underway in the South Cameroon region, are sufficient proof that in Cameroon, actions do not follow the fine promises of leaders.

“A situation that remains quite worrying when we know that Cameroon, like other African states, is very vulnerable to climate change. It should also be stressed that every time a hectare of forest is razed, it is the local communities that pay a heavy price because their survival is closely linked to the protection of these forests”, Greenpeace Africa stresses.

According to Greenpeace Africa, a report by the National Observatory of Climate Change (ONACC) shows that between 2000 and 2017, Cameroon lost 1.5 million hectares of its forest.

“This is an alarming enough figure, but it does not alter the rate of deforestation in the country”, Greenpeace regrets.

Another report made public at the end of October by the National Observatory of Climate Change, indicated that 17 years, Cameroon has lost 1.5 million hectares of its forest cover.

Before the report of the ONACC, the European Union that pointed out that every year, Cameroon loses an area of forest equal to three times the surface of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.

Also, the World Resources Institute in a publication earlier this year ranked Cameroon in 2020 in the top 10 countries in the world with the greatest loss of primary forests, that is to say more than 100,000 hectares of primary forests destroyed in that year alone.

Greenpeace laments that leaders, including the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (Minepded), as well as the Minister of Wildlife and Flora (Minfof) continue to be optimistic about Cameroon’s ability to effectively meet its international commitments.

For Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, “Fine speeches will not save the forest. Concrete actions are needed. The Cameroonian state must be more serious in its commitments. Cameroon’s policy on forest management is paradoxical. On the discursive level, we have leaders who present themselves as the best defenders of the environment but the reality on the ground is quite different.”

The ministries concerned have not reacted to the release by Greenpeace.