International Day of Forests 2021: time to rethink and redress our relationship with the forest

Man’s unsustainable way of exploiting forest resources has caused a number of problems, amongst which, forest degradation. The International Day of Forests 2021 presents to us another opportunity to rethink and redress what looks like geometric degradation of forest landscapes. Our lives are linked to the forest in one way or the other. We depend on forests for food, fuel, medicine and many more. This relation we have with the forest presupposes that we must manage forest resources sustainably for the present and future generations.

We at ERuDeF are convince that
for us to effectively combat climate change and the biodiversity crisis we find
ourselves in today, we must manage our forest sustainably.

Theme of of the International Day of Forests for 2021 is “Forest Restoration: a path to recovery and well-being” . Indeed, forest restoration is a path to recovery and well-being. We think this is the right time for us to take a collective action.  

For the past three days, the
Environment and Rural Development Foundation has been working with communities
along the Mount Bamboutos landscape in planting trees to restore this
mountain.   This is part of its 15 years’
commitment to restore this mountain with the planting of 15 million trees in 15
years, in what is today known as the Mount Bamboutos Initiative.  

We are extending our vision to
cover the central African sub region. for the next 15 years we will be planting
300 million trees to restore degraded landscapes in Cameroon and the Central Africa
Sub Region. Also, we will be planting 100 million trees on small holder farms
in Cameroon and the Central African sub region.

We hope you can accompany us to
achieving this dream. The journey starts with planting one tree. Be part of the
journey.

The future of wetlands: our perspective 

January 2nd 2021 was commemorated as World Wetlands Day. Commemorated under the theme “Wetlands and water”, wetlands are a very important ecosystem that has unfortunately continue to experience unprecedented depletion. The theme for this year underscores the importance of wetlands as a source of fresh water and encourages efforts to restore them and halt their continuous loss. ERuDeF, just like any other conservation actor is concerned about the rapid degradation and loss of wetlands. According to a UNEP report, Cameroon’s mangrove area dropped from about 272 000 ha in 1980 to about 195 000 ha in 2005, a reduction of about 30 percent over a period of 25 years. This implies that 2 500 ha of mangrove is lost every year. About 300 million-400 million people worldwide live by, and depend on wetlands. Despite this dependence, half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since the 1900 according to a report by World Wildlife Fund, (WWF).

May be an image of nature, body of water and text that says 'AND RURAL PT ERuDeF CAMEROON World WetLands Day 2021 Theme Wetlands and Water Let us protect our swamps,marshes and bogs. Support ERuDeF's efforts restoring the freshwater and marine ecosytems of Cameroon ERuDeF Communication erudet cam ERuDeF Gerudefcam www.erudef.org communication@erudef.org'

Cameroon is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources. Though efforts have been made by the government of Cameroon and other conservation actors in Cameroon to protect and preserve wetlands, these efforts have largely been thwarted by human activities. The unsustainable harvesting of fresh water resources including over fishing poses a big threat to this ecosystem. The practice of wetlands recovery for human activities such as construction is on a steady rise. This practice is not only unfriendly but completely violates domestic laws and thwarts Cameroon’s commitment with the rest of the world in protecting and preserving wetlands. In 2017, Cameroon’s Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, Helle Pierre, called on Cameroonians constructing on wetlands to stop the practice. The call seemed to have failed on deaf ears as the practice still continued unperturbed.

Aware of the threats posed on wetlands, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation developed a programme known as the Fresh Water and Marine Ecosystem Programme to tackle the threats posed on wetlands and its resources. This programme aims to achieve the following: The proposed Ndongere Marine National Park and 7 Mangrove Community Forests will be created and managed, at least 1 million mangrove trees planted to restore degraded mangrove forests and 2 million indigenous trees planted to restore degraded riparian forests.
In collaboration with government of Cameroon and the the United Nations Environment Program ERuDeF has been part of the project titled “Participative Integrated Ecosystem Services Management Plans for Bakassi Post Conflict Ecosystems”. “ERuDeF will not relent its efforts in protecting and conserving wetlands, we have designed long term programs, spanning a period of 15 years that will tackle conservation issues including the conservation and protection of Wetlands” the President and CEO remarked

While we laud the efforts of the Cameroon government in protecting wetlands, more needs to be done. Existing laws on the protection of wetlands need to be enforced to the later. Maximum intergovernmental collaboration in protecting and preserving wetlands especially in the Bakassi Peninsula should be continuously perused. National and international environmental NGOs needs to increase collaboration and involvement of the local population in protecting these fragile ecosystems.

Cameroon: World’s Biggest Frog Near Extinction

The population of Goliath frogs in the wild, in Cameroon is
decreasing due to accelerated habitat loss occasioned by deforestation, hunting,
and over collecting from the wild for pet trade. The most is severe threat to
this species is hunting for food, and new sophisticated traps, for catching
this species are now being scrupulously used in the Nkongsamba area of
Cameroon.  These endangered frogs are
also been adversely affected by the loss of forest habitat for agriculture,
logging, and human settlements.

The Goliath frog is the largest frog in the world. This frog
is found only in restricted areas in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. According
to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Goliath frog is an
endangered species because of a 50% decline in population size in the last
three generations. Presently, the Goliath frog is teetering at the brink of
extinction

Mount Nlonako in Cameroon harbors 93 types of amphibian species, including the Goliath frog. The 93 species constitute 32 percent of the 236 amphibian species recorded in Cameroon. Biologically, Mount Nlonako has been termed as a veritable hotspot of African amphibian diversity. The area is characterized by high amphibian, mammalian and reptilian species richness and therefore ranked amongst the top 10 mountain ecosystem biodiversity hotspots in  Africa. Due to lack of employment and livelihood opportunities, locals in and around the Mount Nlonako area are often engaged in hunting and poaching of wildlife.

On an average, the local hunters hunt twice a week and harvest an average of 10-15 frogs a week, resulting in an estimated harvest of 19,440 frogs every peak season, mostly during the dry season, revealed a study conducted in Mount Nlonako by the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) in 2016.

“in one night, I used to catch 8 to 12 Goliath frogs,” a
frog hunter from Magamba village, Mount Nlonako, Mungo Division revealed. “But
now, catching even 2 to 5 of them in a night is difficult. They are not
plentily available now in the area” he added.

Even their tadpoles are harvested by the locals for
consumption. “We have been eating goliaths for years. It is good for children
and pregnant women. But you should eat it when it is fresh,” he adds.

Some local journalists also reported that many of these live
frogs are actually trafficked to neighboring countries like Nigeria, Congo and
Gabon.

According to Tim Killian, ERuDeF’s Focal Point Manager for the Nlonako Muanenguba Mountains, working closely with local rangers, “we aim to learn more than ever about the Goliath frogs and the threats they face. With the knowledge gained, we will be able to devise and implement urgent measures for protecting the remaining Goliath frogs. It’s the only way we are  going to save them from extinction. It will be a major step towards saving these endangered frogs from extinction. But we need your help to pay for it. ERuDeF’s presence to rescue amphibians and curb the illegal wildlife and pet trade is critical. Every Goliath frog rescued is important to the survival and continuation of the species. The only real hope for these amphibians is the preservation of their rainforest home. Those that cannot survive in the wild are given a life-long home. However, their offspring are candidates for future reintroduction into the wild”.

As Buea Hits Biggest Ever Water Crisis, ERuDeF University Institute plans to Drill Over 30 Boreholes

“it is embarrassing to say, but I just have to reveal that,
in my house we go for more than two days without bathing, sometimes we can’t
even flush our toilets, my children are now perpetual late comers in school,
because they trek very long distances to get little water which we can manage.
If not for the few rich people who have constructed boreholes, enclosed in
their mighty fences, and make water available for a few hours once or twice a
week, I wonder what we would have done” says Asong Peter, an inhabitant in
Sandpit.

Buea, capital of the Southwest Region, located on the eastern slopes of Mount Cameroon has been suffering from acute water shortage. Lack of potable water has been an embarrassing phenomenon in most neighborhoods.  For more than four months and counting, taps have gone dry, with the precious liquid becoming a very scarce resource. This town is blessed with abundant water resources but paradoxically the inhabitants of this region are facing a serious water crisis as there is insufficient water to simultaneously support both human and ecosystem water needs. Moreover, the capacity of the main water supply authority CAMWATER (Cameroon Water Utilities Corporation) is insufficient to cater for the over 300000 inhabitants. The scarcity of water in  Buea is attributed to: increase in population and rapid urbanization that exert tremendous pressure on the water resources; pollution resulting from poor waste disposal and the use of agro-chemicals (pesticides, herbicides etc.) around water catchments; complete breakdown of old water pipes due to little or no maintenance; and the degradation of water catchments.

A certain mama Linda explained how she had been suffering for five years because of water crisis. She has six children but there is no water to take good care of them. She and her children live mostly on fried food. She spends her heart earned money only on water. She always hires someone to fetch water. If she doesn’t have money, her children go on a week without taking proper baths, they wear mostly dirty clothes because there is no water for Laundry. Her children are always ill because of poor hygiene as a result of water crisis. However, they depend on rain water which means that, they have water only during the rainy season to pull on with their activities.

Due to water scarcity, the local populations are forced to
trek for over long distances just to get to a drinkable source of water.
Students and workers in Buea do not meet up school and office time due to the
fact that they need to follow long lines every morning in order to fetch water
for their domestic chores. The local population is more exposed to diseases
such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses which are
all associated to water scarcity. If strict measures are not taken to fight
against this crisis the local population are going to face other problems such
as hunger and desertification that are worse than the ones listed above.

Government authorities on their part have struggled to curb the water crisis like constructing boreholes, but this has been futile as such boreholes and water tanks are very little to quench the thirst of the increasing Buea population. The Environment and Rural Development Foundation the leading Conservation Organization in Cameroon together with her partners is working enormously to see the malice of this water crisis reduce through her intervention in Water catchment Development. Also, ERuDeF and her partners plans on drilling about 30 boreholes in some rural communities around Buea. This will go a long way in reducing the pains suffered by the Buea Municipality inhabitants.

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF)
Through the ERuDeF University Institute has also developed initiatives that
involve working with local populations to fight against water crisis in
Buea.  These initiatives include
educating the communities on the protection of water catchments.

Education is critical to solve the water crisis. In fact, in order to cope with future water scarcity, it is necessary to radically reform all forms of consumption, from individual use to the supply chains of large companies. Without proper sanitation, the water becomes full of diseases and unsafe to drink. Besides, improving the sewage systems in specific areas is another way to prevent water scarcity from becoming any worse. In addition, improving water infrastructure must be a priority, as water conservation and efficiency are key components of sustainable water management.

Protection of water catchments cannot be left out when talking about water crisis in Buea because these area serve as sources of pure water. ERuDeF has been fully active in protecting these catchments through planting environmental friendly trees around the water catchments with massive participation of the local population.

Women In The World Of Covid-19

In the past women were seen as “the weaker sex”, they
were socially, politically, economically and culturally inferior to their
husbands. Subdue to remain under a man or boy in every domain.

Just when the world saw the need for women’s equal
right to participate in education, society, economy and politics and as more
and more women become empowered; they have become the biggest victims of war.
More than 41M people worldwide are living in a situation of internally
displacement caused by disasters; wars and half are women and girls (IDMC,
2020). Sub Saharan Africa had highest number of Internally Displaced women and
girls, meanwhile Cameroon as a result of the present Anglophone crisis
according to OCHA 2021 reports, more than 705,800 are Internally displaced,
830,000 people in need in host countries . 60% of the said populations are
women and girls.

Then COVID-19 pandemic came with other issues; women
are more economically and emotionally stressed without protection from all
forms of violence. Despite the disputes, Women choose to challenge gender
stereotypes/biases, call out gender actions or assumptions, maintain gender
equal mindset and foster development.

ERuDeF Staff Celebrating Women’s Day

ERuDeF Centre for the Advancement of Women’s
Initiatives (CAWI) has as objective to empower women and girls through its
women, gender and humanitarian programmes. We have impacted more than 100,000
women and girls by given them the right knowledge, skills, materials for a
better strategic, healthy and peaceful world. This year we support internally
displaced women with skills like soap making to earn money, assist with loans
for internally displaced women to startup businesses, engage women and girls in
ecosystem restoration and provide alternative sources of income for women in
ERuDeF conservation spots, support internally displaced children especially
girls return to school, educate the younger generation especially girls on the
importance of this day and ensure every staff of ERuDeF is gender sensitive.

With the theme for the year 2021 ‘Women in Leadership;
Achieve an equal future in a COVID -19 world. Women leaders in ERuDeF and men
as well gave us an insight of how they have been able to handle work, family, Anglophone
crisis and COVID-19 during these difficult moments. In all Women play a great
role during these periods as caregivers, innovators, community organizers,
counselors and fighters amidst all these crises.

Let us celebrate the social, economic, political and
cultural achievements of women while supporting them in any way we can.

[SUPPORT WOMEN TODAY] [SUPPORT WOMEN TODAY]

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