The Director in charge of the Africa Program for the UK Charity Fauna and Flora International (FFI) has paid his first official visit to the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF). Dr. Rob Brett was at the ERuDeF Head Office in Buea on July 4, 2013 where he met with a cross-section of staff working for different programs in the organization. In an interview Dr. Rob Brett said “It is very nice to be back in Cameroon. As a specialist in the conservation of Rhino I was here in 1997 in the North to advise the then Cameroon’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MINEF) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on how to conserve the remaining species of Rhinos in Northern Cameroon. So I did a lot of work in the Benue Complex Park”
Speaking about the long standing relationship between ERuDeF and FFI, Dr. Rob Brett said the partnership between the two organizations has been very fruitful given that FFI has seen ERuDeF grow quite considerably and expand its program in recent years and “that’s very encouraging to us” He added. Dr. Rob explained that the measure of FFI’s success is being able to build the capacity of local implementing partners such as ERuDeF. “FFI is able to be effective when it is able to support a local partner organization to be effective itself. In fact, the measure of our success will be how well we are able to build the capacity of our local partner and enable them to be effective in their conservation objective” Dr. Rob explained.
Speaking about the future, Dr. Rob said “certainly looking ahead, ERuDeF will continue to be our main local NGO partner! We would like to continue supporting the organization and help it grow so that it can become sustainable”. He said just like other partnerships FFI has with other local organizations in Africa and elsewhere in the world, what FFI is trying to focus on now is concentrating on fundraising for different programs, but at the same time, “we expect that ERuDeF at some point will be needing some core support. So the fact that ERuDeF is very diverse now means we are heading somewhere” Dr. Rob went on.
Speaking about the conservation priority for FFI, Dr. Brett said “the priority for FFI at this particular juncture is conserving species in their habitat locally important to the locality and globally important because of their uniqueness and biodiversity importance. “In the SW of Cameroon we have some fauna that is very important. FFI tries to find out what are the incentives of the forest to local people”. He went on to say a large proportion of FFI’s program in Africa is the conservation of forest. He explained that most of FFI’s projects which include forest conservation are settled around community based management “so that’s why we put much importance on local partners to find out the local incentives of the people who live closest to the forest and how we can re-enforce this” Dr. Rob Brett continued.
At the end of his stay at the ERuDeF Headquarters in Buea, Dr. Rob was feeling at home “Thank you for a very warm reception. It was my first time to be in this part of Cameroon and I get a very strong feeling that a lot of people support forest conservation in Cameroon. I think with this kind of spirit, we can be sure of saving local species for posterity. It is really the people who matter”. Dr. Rob Brett was accompanied by Dr. Rob Small, the Program Manager for Agricultural landscapes and Biodiversity and Dr. Daniel Pouakouyou, the Program Manager for West and Central Africa.
By Regina Fonjia Leke