Partner : Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER)
Domain: Quality management enhances the credibility and effectiveness of independent external monitoring of natural resources.
In Cameroon, official or mandated IM (undertaken through an agreement with the government) ended in 2013 and since then civil society alone has taken the responsibility to independently monitor the forest sector. The lack of official IM involvement resulted in a reported increase in cases of corruption and illegalities, contributing negatively to the global perception of timber sourced from Cameroon.
Where IM was well established it has now been enhanced to follow internationally recognised quality standards
Cameroon has a long history of both mandated and civil society-led IM. It is one of the countries in which IM started in Central Africa. In Cameroon IM is more mature, supported by a cadre of relatively well experienced and technically competent individuals and organisations. CV4C national partners CED and FODER have many years of experience and competence in IM. The challenges faced were around standardisation, replication and addressing the inherent conflict that has always existed in IM in which the monitoring organisation also undertook advocacy activities. This ‘police, judge and jury’ situation compromised the credibility of IM. To address these challenges, FODER started developing an innovative approach that sought to incorporate ISO standards into the IM process. This approach is the Standardised System of Independent External Observation, now popularly known by its French acronym as SNOIE. SNOIE, which has been developed by civil society in collaboration with the administration and other forest stakeholders, has proved a massive success.
In 2018, SNOIE officially obtained its Certificate of Conformity to the ISO 9001:2015 standard with the financial support of the CV4C project and the technical support of CIDT. The standard is used by organisations to demonstrate their ability to consistently meet regulatory requirements and demonstrate continuous improvement. This is the first civil society approach to natural resource monitoring that has been certified in the world. It provides a huge stamp of quality assurance and an obligation to maintain quality standards. Reports and denunciations made are regularly
acted on by the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, many being
the subject of law enforcement missions. Actions undertaken by the Ministry have included fines of over 100,000 euros to companies, seizure of timber, and initiation of legal proceedings and suspension of permits in one year.
The SNOIE approach is now being replicated in Congo, DRC and Gabon. SNOIE has enabled IM to:
- Be standardised under an internationally recognised standard that is acceptable by the private sector and other stakeholders
- Provide clear and separate roles for monitoring and advocacy organisations within one system
- Bring together a network of competent and specialised organisations to monitor the natural resources sector
- Allow for independent third-party verification of the IM process to ensure confidence in the process by all stakeholders.