By Shuimo Trust
The midterm debriefing meeting for the first pilot phase of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) project has taken place. The meeting took place at the headquarters of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF in Buea on Friday April 3, 2020.
The review meeting which took place in the presence of the CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi, consultant of the review, Mr.Atabong Alex, project manager, Deh Nji Hermann and local Community Based Organization (CBOs) representatives was aimed briefing ERuDeF on the findings in the field, the challenges and identification of gaps. Also in the menu of discussion was devising means of getting funding for the 15-year project.
Talking during the meeting the, the CEO of ERuDeF gave an over view of the MBI. He underscored the importance of restoring the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem functions after 3 decades of continuous degradation resulting from human activities. The Mount Bamboutos, Louis Nkembi posited, “is the third elevation in Cameroon after Mount Cameroon and Mount Oku, respectively”. The mountain, he continued, “is the second watershed in Cameroon after the Adamawa Plateau”, wandering what would become of rivers and streams that depend on this towering watershed if left to be degraded by indiscriminate human activities.
The consultant of the the midterm review, Mr. Atabong Alex presented his findings gotten from the 16 villages where the MBI project is taking place. He appreciated the efforts made by ERuDeF and its local partners in making the project a success in the first pilot phase. He equally pointed out some shortcomings he witnessed during his field assessment of the project. Among these shortcomings are: poor database of trees nursed and planted, a lack of mastery of the project document of funding partners (TreesSisters, Trees for the Future and Darwin Initiative) by ERuDeF’s local partners (Green Impact, Operation Green Space and PEDER). Mr.Atabong lamented the fact that the database of farmers taking part in the MBI project is not reflective enough. He equally recommended that communication should be improved at the level ERuDeF hierarchy and the technicians in the field. Mr. Atabong also suggested that nursery attendants should equally ensure a good follow up of nurseries so that nursed trees should not wither off as the case of some nurseries.
As concerns the gender aspect of the MBI project Mr. Atabong appreciated the work done so far by the gender team of ERuDeF as close to around 31% of the women are fully taking part in the project. To him, if the present momentum is carried forward to the second pilot phase of the project, the gender aspect of the project would be achieved in no distance time. He appealed that more and more youths should be made part of the project, as the youths are still to be fully involved
As concerns the long term funding of the project, there was a general consensus that more avenues should be explored to get funds in order to ensure the sustainability of the project. Also, it was observed that local CBOs lack the capacity to produce quality financial and narrative reports as expected by the funding partners of the MBI project, despite the fact that they have been trained on reporting, by the project accountant and manager respectively. More so, financial reports are not always submitted on time by these CBOs, making pre-financing inevitable. This is because ERuDeF disburses money only after such financial reports are submitted on time with adequate receipts.
Mr. Atabong also appealed that more online exposure should be given to the Mount Bamboutos project.
All in all the meeting ended in a satisfactory note with the CEO of ERuDeF, Louise Nkembi urging every one involved in the MBI project to do what was left undone in the first pilot phase of the project in the second pilot phase of the project. He acknowledged that there would still be challenges but such challenged would be dealt with if team work and dedication is put into practice by every one involved in the MBI project.
It should be noted that the Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) is a project for the restoration of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions of Mount Bamboutos in Western Cameroon. It is a joint initiative of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Cameroon and the International Tree Foundation (ITF), UK in collaboration with the government of Cameroon. The Mount Bamboutos ecosystem by 1960 was one of the most biodiversity rich mountains in continental Africa. Due to indiscriminate human activities in and around the Mount Bamboutos, the mountain has undergone tremendous degradation in the last 3 decades, thus the need to restore its ecosystem functions.