Sun. Apr 28th, 2024

By Leocadia Bongben

Much attention is not paid to how the funds designated for climate change-related initiatives are managed. How much money has been invested in Cameroon’s efforts to combat climate change? What is the actual situation, and how has this money been used? As journalists embark on collaborative reporting on climate financing, these and other questions scream for solutions.

Until recently, many journalists considered environmental crimes and integrity difficulties in managing projects related to climate change to be murky areas.

“As an experienced environmental journalist, Nadege Bowa says, I have always covered environmental issues, but I seem to have a phobia for numbers unless it comes with money.”

Transparency International Cameroon’s capacity-building training for journalists on environmental crime investigation methods has reassured many and encouraged them to explore this underreported field.

Bowa and others are excited to look into initiatives under REDD+, climate change adaptation, mining, and many more as they depart Bertoua, where the capacity-building workshop for journalists was held from April 24–25.

At the event, Claude Hyepdo, the boss of Transparency International Cameroon, piqued the interest of journalists in climate financing by describing how REDD+ is managed in Cameroon. Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests in developing nations is known as REDD+. The plus (+) is an acronym for additional forest-related climate-protecting actions, like sustainable forest management, preservation, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Hyepdo insisted there is no difference in Cameroon’s governmental finances and funding allocated to programs related to climate change. There has not been a special fund designated for climate change programs, but in certain instances, such as with REDD+, funders banded together to balance their contributions as a single budget. Cameroon and its partners outlined a unified budget for REDD+ totaling 28,911 million US dollars. Noteworthy, five million US dollars were not disbursed because of the laborious management strategy.

A member of the civil society, Claire Ateba is the coordinator of the Centre d’Animation rural et de développement durable in Ebolowa. She was involved in the creation and planning of REDD+.

“We began with the preparatory phase and refined the plan based on information gathered from the field via fieldwork and indigenous people’s comments. A heavily participatory technique that was implemented proved to be troublesome as it required a large number of people, took a long time, and consumed a lot of money.” That said, she insisted that Cameroon had succeeded in altering the locals’ perception of the forest. They received instructions not to overcut trees and were encouraged to sell carbon offsets.”

On this occasion, Greenpeace Africa campaigner Dr. Fabrice Lamfu taught journalists about investigative techniques, particularly in the forest sector, for detecting illegal timber using ‘Panjiva’ among other tools.

Journalists have asked for more in-depth training on investigative techniques to help them become more adept at investigating climate change financing.

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