• COVID response reaches indigenous forest peoples and vulnerable groups in Cameroon

    20 August 2020
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    The Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG), Centre for Environmental Education (CED) and members of the Cameroon Community Media Network launched an extensive community and media campaign against the COVID 19 pandemic in the South, East, Centre, North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. During the months of July and August 2020, field animators accompanied by medical practitioners reached out to local forest and indigenous people’s communities and marginalised and vulnerable groups. Field visits offered the opportunity to relay a message of hope and solidarity in the fight against the pandemic of the Coronavirus. During the awareness raising sessions, particular emphasis was placed on respect of measures of good hygiene and social distancing recommended by the government and by the WHO in order to reduce the risk of contamination. The teams also distributed sanitation kits including soap bars, handwash, hydro-alcoholic solutions, masks and providing training on soap making in some communities.

    Vulnerable groups and district health facilities in the Anglophone North and South West Regions faced with over four years of war, were particularly targeted, such as the nomadic Bororo’s and the handicapped. Over 2,000 households were reached through socially distanced sensitisation and millions of others through community radio, online and television messages. On going data collection on the impacts of COVID on these communities and their livelihoods will provide much needed insights on measures needed for a more resilient post Covid recovery plans.

    This action is conducted within the framework of the CV4C project led by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development (CIDT) in the Congo Basin, funded by the European Union, the FAO-FLEGT programme and DFID.

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  • Project support to the fight against COVID-19 in Kinshasa

    21 July 2020
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    June 2020 saw the launch of an awareness raising campaign against the coronavirus in the forestry communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). An association of non-governmental organisations – which together form the National Network for Independent Observers, Le Réseau National des Observateurs Indépendants (RENOI) – led the campaign. A strong delegation visited the District of Maluku, in the eastern part of the Congolese capital, Kinshasa; in order to raise the awareness of the inhabitants of this municipality against COVID-19, which has raged in the urban-rural area since March.

    This visit was an occasion for the network of environmental civil society organisations to carry a message of hope and solidarity in the fight against the pandemic of the Coronavirus, which has shaken the entire world. RENOI also distributed sanitation kits including soap bars, handwash, hydro-alcoholic solutions, masks etc.

    “Many people don’t respect social distancing measures imposed by the authorities. We try to raise their awareness and to do community follow-up. I am happy that you have brought these kits to fight against this illness here to Maluku. We hope this act will continue”, declared the deputy mayor of Maluku, Apollinaire Kwedi Makuntima.

    During the awareness raising session, particular emphasis was placed on respect of measures of good hygiene and social distancing recommended by the government and by the WHO in order to reduce the risk of contamination of this pandemic.

    “Malukhu represents the gate of entry of all the logs coming out of the forestry provinces, especially the Bandundu, Equator and Oriental provinces. We wanted to raise the awareness of the populations living in this district and those who live in communities where the wood arrives. If they understand the importance of protecting themselves, they will protect others and hence stop the spread of this sickness”, stated Essylot Lubala, the coordinator of the OGF organisation (Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière).

    This action is conducted within the framework of the CV4C project led by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development (CIDT) in the Congo Basin, funded by the European Union, the FAO-FLEGT programme and DFID.

    Alfred NTUMBA, EnviroNews

    Translated by Habiba Mohamed, CIDT

     

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  • CIDT secures £174,000 to raise awareness around COVID19 with indigenous communities in the Congo Basin

    26 May 2020
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    CIDT are leading a partnership to distribute information and resources to indigenous communities in three countries in the Congo Basin, via existing project networks.

    There is a great threat from the COVID19 pandemic to the region, particularly for indigenous communities. Indigenous communities are the best guardians of the world’s forests and biodiversity. With the safety of urban areas being prioritised, the disruption of services in rural areas is a real risk when coupled with lack of accessible information on the disease and risks of isolation, discrimination and a slide into poverty. It is essential to raise awareness among this category of the population so that they are aware of the seriousness of the pandemic and respect the measures advocated by the country’s political and health authorities in order to protect themselves from spreading to areas not yet affected.

    Following a COVID 19 appeal to key donors, the EU and DFID have agreed for CIDT to redirect over £160,000 of contingency funding and under-spend allocated in the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) project towards a COVID 19 response. The team has successfully mobilised an additional £14,000 of new funding from the FAO EU FLEGT Programme.

    Dr Aurelian Mbzibain, Associate Professor (International Development) and Programme Manager for the CV4C led the appeal and commented:

    “This is really positive news and this money will go a long way in helping raise awareness and fighting COVID 19 with the communities we are working with across the Congo Basin”.

    The funds will be used by CV4C project partners to:

    • raise awareness about the virus and measures to prevent/combat the disease
    • identify the impacts of the virus on indigenous communities and women
    • assess and document the impacts on forest and wildlife activities (especially illegality)
    • propose actions and mechanisms to address or mitigate impacts on communities

    Networks established in the CV4C project include community organisations that undertake forest monitoring throughout the major forest areas. Our project will leverage these networks to:

    • reach 5000+ people to deliver awareness-raising campaigns
    • distribute 6000 sanitary kits distributed
    • engage 30 media outlets to disseminate information and messages on national mainstream and social media
    • provide regular updates on perceived COVID impacts to key decision makers

    Through keeping information and resources flowing between forest communities and governments, donors and media, this partnership will contribute towards keeping people safe and ensuring that effective planning can begin for when the COVID19 threat is more under control.

    The forests in the Congo Basin represent the second largest on the planet and are vital for global climate regulation and Africa’s biodiversity. They are home to over 40 million people and support the livelihoods of 75 million people from 150 ethnic groups. There is a growing body of evidence linking deforestation, destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity loss, and zoonoses such as COVID-19. In addition to these challenges, the forest sector has to combat illegal logging, corruption and poor forest and land governance.

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    Photo taken by project partner FLAG Cameroon once the outreach work had begun.

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  • Independent review of 4-year CIDT project reveals significant progress

    20 May 2020
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    CED mission

    At the end of 2019 the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) – led by CIDT and funded by the EU and DFID – was assessed by external independent reviewers from the Canadian firm Fokabs. The Mid-Term Review team found that significant progress has been made towards the objective of the project to build strong and effective Non-State Actors capable of monitoring forest governance and forest land-use change in five Congo Basin countries.

    Click here to download the report.

    The review found that a wide series of results had been realised by the project:

    • Some governments (for instance Cameroon) are better responding to the independent forest monitoring reports generated by NSAs.
    • Significant improvements have been achieved in the quality of evidence generated by the project especially independent forest monitoring (IFM) reports.
    • Support to indigenous peoples and local communities and women to access their rights to benefits from forest exploitation
    • Publication of reports and briefs on the Open Timber Portal and development of FLEGT Watch have strengthened monitoring capability of NSAs
    • At policy level, CV4C has been instrumental in informing national forest-related processes such as FLEGT and REDD+ in the project countries.

    The review reported that CV4C has delivered a successful capacity strengthening programme for non-state and government actors including:

    • Improving the organisational and institutional capacities of project partners through the elaboration of strategic documents (policies, plans and strategies).
    • Organising regional exchanges to promote learning between countries in order to boost the performance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other actors in tracking and combatting illegalities in the forest sector.
    • Supporting ISO certification of the Standardized External Independent Monitoring System (SNOIE) in Cameroon and technical assistance on quality management systems in other project countries.
    • Developing and piloting the satellite-based FLEGT WATCH tool allowing for improved efficiency and impact on the ground.
    • Driving significant focus on gender and mainstreaming through the project
    • Establishing a regional community of practice on IFM that shares best practices and fosters synergies culminating in the establishment of a Pan African Network of IFM organisations (PA-OI) the Congo Basin.

    The evaluators, Prof Kalame Fobissie and Kevin Enongene, found that:

    “CV4C has made considerable progress regarding the attainment of the four expected results set by the project and the majority of respondents rated the progress achieved towards the attainment of the project results as high to very high.”
    “The project has been efficient towards the use of financial and human resources for the implementation of project activities.”
    “Overall, the project is on track towards attaining its overall and specific objective by end date.”

    The review report presented lessons relating to: IFM approaches and quality management, gender mainstreaming, capacity building and project implementation. The review was conducted through the review and synthesis of project reports, documents and online information. In addition, primary data was collected using interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with partners and other relevant project stakeholders.

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  • Advances in Independent Forest Monitoring are bringing change to the forests of the Congo Basin

    6 April 2020
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    IFM in CAR

    The University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) has been at the forefront of promoting civil society led independent monitoring of forests, governance and land-use change processes in the Congo Basin within its Citizen Voices for Change Programme since 2017.

    This information leaflet recalls several stories of real, meaningful and lasting change, realised through years of collaboration, hard work and innovation.

    These efforts are the work of several civil society organisations (Brainforest in Gabon, CAGDF in Congo, CIEDD in CAR, CED and FODER in Cameroon, OGF in DRC and FLAG at regional level) that are motivated to implement the behaviour and systems required to ensure that Independent Forest Monitoring (IM) becomes an effective mechanism for improved forest management and governance.

    These impact stories are the results of coordinated efforts within and between countries, where lessons are shared, support is at hand, and goals are aligned. There is a risk that the current global Coronavirus epidemic will further weaken forest governance and law enforcement systems in these countries and hence the need for national civil society organisations to remain vigilant. International development and donor agencies must also ensure that monitoring and law enforcement resources are available during and after the pandemic to ensure that forest illegalities remain under check and that organised crime groups and other unscrupulous groups are held to account.

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  • Project partners from five countries convene for annual planning in Gabon

    27 February 2020
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    CV4C annual partner workshops

    The regional planning workshop for the Citizen Voices for Change project took place in Libreville, Gabon from 14-16 January 2020, bringing together partner project managers from Gabon, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR).

    Project partners from across the sub-region presented the challenges of forest governance in their respective countries, the results of project actions and how they have contributed to creating change in the field of independent forest monitoring (IM) in their countries. Further discussions took place regarding project results and the identification of priorities for the remainder of the project, which has now entered its final year.

    CV4C annual partner workshops

    The focus of day two centred on questions of quality when it comes to independent forest monitoring and how to improve it. Discussions were guided by technical partners FLAG, CIDT, WRI and FODER. This discussion culminated in a detailed and in-depth exchange between partners regarding the different national priorities in forest governance and how to better address the challenges of this sector in 2020.

    The final day of the workshop addressed project visibility and the promotion and dissemination of successes and lessons learnt. A dedicated technical session facilitated by Conservation Justice discussed how to create synergies between Independent Forest Monitoring and Independent Observation of Wildlife in the region, through the replication of the model used on their ALEFI project around illegal logging.

    CV4C annual partner workshops

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  • Creating space for cross sector dialogue for sustainable forest management policy in Gabon

    27 January 2020
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    National policy engagement conference in Gabon

    The Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) and its national partner, Brainforest co-organised a national policy engagement conference on the 17th January 2020 in Libreville, Gabon. The aim of the event was to explore NGO-state and private sector relationships in the monitoring, control and certification of forests in Gabon. The conference was organised within the framework of the CIDT-led and EU-funded Citizen Voices for Change project; which seeks to strengthen the contribution of non-state actors to improving forest governance in five Congo Basin countries.

    Over 100 participants from government, private sector, international development agencies and donor agencies reflected on ways to facilitate collaborative efforts towards improving the sustainable management of forests and its contributions to forest livelihoods. A raft of practical recommendations were generated from the debate, including the call for development of collaborative agreements between national NGOs and governments but increased professionalization in the operation of monitoring organisations.

    The conference was opened by the EU Ambassador to Gabon Rosario Bento Pais, who stressed the need for understanding between actors and the stronger role of civil society in monitoring forest law enforcement and governance.

    “Forest management is a very important issue for the European Union. The aim here is to encourage good coordination and smooth communication between the administration, civil society and economic operators in the context of independent monitoring of the management of natural resources, in order to achieve the objectives of good governance and sustainable forest management.”

    Drawing on research by Dr Aurelian Mbzibain and colleagues at CIDT, the conference provided a unique platform to debate existing roles and relationships between actors and to explore ways of addressing relations which are often conflictual and based on rivalry. In attendance, were project teams from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

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  • Law Enforcement, Administration and Civil Society unite in the fight against environmental crime in CAR

    8 January 2020
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    atelier multi acteur placer sous l’égide du Ministre des Eaux, Forêts, Chasse et Pêche du 07 au 09 août 2019

    Heads of Law Enforcement, Administration, and Central African Civil Society are now embarking on the fight against environmental crime: forest and wildlife and assimilated offenses (PLCFFE).

    During a multi-stakeholder workshop that took place from 7-9 August 2019 under the guidance of the Minister of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing, a national platform has been established for the fight against environmental crime: forestry and wildlife and similar offences. The workshop was organised by the Interpol Executive Advisor with funding from the CV4C Project.

    The platform is endowed with the right support and a solid legal base to contribute to the fight against environmental crime: the Internal Regulations and the order N0 042 / MEFCP / DIRCAB / PFCCPAC of 24 August 2019.

    The Platform for Combating Environmental Crime forest and wildlife and similar crimes has the following objectives:

    1. Moralise public life: This involves subjecting public and private organisations with a leading administrative, political or private position to the obligation to protect our forest resources and proscribe bad governance in this sector.
    2. Create a bond of trust between the people and public and private actors: Promoting good governance amongst the operators of the Central African forests with a view to preserving the environment and forest resources.
    3. Preventing forest, wildlife, environmental crime and similar offenses: The aim is to denounce environmental offences to the authorities, Water and Forests agents and NGOs.
    4. Laying the foundations for sustainable economic and social development: Empowering local populations and the Central African people in general, as well as establishing a new era with development partners in order to improve the image of the Central African Republic in the field of good management of our forests.

    The new platform fits well with the National Recovery Plan. It has the following responsibilities:

    • develop and implement a national strategy to combat forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
    • coordinate, supervise and monitor the implementation of policies to prevent and combat all forms of crime in the forestry sector;
    • periodically evaluate administrative instruments and measures to determine their effectiveness in the prevention and fight against forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
    • identify the structural causes of poor governance in the timber exploitation and export chain, and propose measures to the authorities to eliminate them in all public and private services;
    • give opinions and advice for the protection of our forests to any natural or legal person or to any public or private body, and to recommend legislative and regulatory measures to prevent and combat forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
    • assist public and private sectors in the development of ethics rules;
    • educate and sensitise local populations on the consequences of forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
    • disseminate and popularise texts relating to forest management;
    • carry out investigations into bad practices of certain forest operators, identify the alleged perpetrators of the destruction or illicit marketing of forest resources and their accomplices and initiate legal proceedings;
    • collect, centralise and use the information and complaints it receives;
    • seize the Public Prosecutor near the competent jurisdiction;
    • ensure strength in intersectoral coordination and the development of cooperation with the bodies which take part in the fight against this crime, both at national and international level.

    Confidence has been strengthened between the law enforcement agencies and the non-governmental actors involved in the fight against these phenomena. Capacities of the members of this platform have been strengthened by the tools necessary for their actions. Members, in particular the heads of law enforcement services, administrative services, and members of civil society, are now able to develop and propose prevention and repression strategies and measures on the subject nationally, regionally, and internationally.

    Given the current state of affairs, there are no legal provisions relating to the suppression of environmental crime, members of the platform now invite public powers (such as the High Authority in charge of good governance and High Council for Communication) to urgently work together to implement recommendations resulting from this workshop, as well as to study the possibilities of taking alternative measures to punish offenses linked to wildlife, forestry, and environmental crime, given the scale of the phenomenon and the loss of income it generates for the treasury of the state.

    To this end, members of the platform ask the organisations of the civil society to engage as a new force in this fight, by feeding public authorities with relevant information to help resolve this plague, and also to take concrete actions in terms of legislative proposals and strategies to minimise the scale of the phenomenon.

     

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  • Call for Applications – Capitalisation and Communications Consultant

    12 December 2019
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    We are seeking a Capitalisation and Communications consultant to work on the EU funded CV4C project in the Congo Basin. The project operates in five countries and with multiple organisations. This is a crucial role to ensure that we are capturing and distributing multimedia communications around our project activities and objectives.

    You can download the Terms of Reference below which contain the full specification and details of how to apply.

    Closing date: 17th December 2019. 

    Download the Terms of Reference for this role.

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  • Two logging companies suspended in Cameroon after denunciation for illegal logging by the SNOIE system

    21 November 2019
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    The logging companies ‘Société Bois Africains du Cameroun (SBAC)’ and ‘Société Forestière de Bouraka (SFB)’ have been suspended from logging activities since 7 November 2019 by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF), Cameroon. These two companies hold the following respective forest concessions: UFA 10050 located around villages Massea, Nkoulkoua and Londjap, in the District of Somalomo, Department of Upper Nyong, Eastern Region-Cameroon; and the UFA 08006 , located in Yoko, in the Mbam and Kim Department, Central Region. According to Decision [1] 1367/D/MINFOF/CAB of 7 November 2019 suspending exploitation activities of a state forest, the SBAC was found guilty of exploitation beyond the limits of the forest concession and non-compliance with technical operating standards. Decision 1289/D/MINFOF/CAB of 31 October 2019 suspending the activities in a forest state, the SFB was convicted for exploitation beyond the limits of the base delimited cut (AAC 3-2).

    By suspending these two companies MINFOF backs up the facts noted in denunciation reports produced by the ‘FForêts et Développement Rural (FODER)’ [ 2] and ‘Ecosystème et Développement (ECODEV)’. The whistleblowing reports produced under the procedures of the ‘Standard Independent External Observation System (SNOIE)’, were sent to MINFOF in July 2019 (case of the SBAC [3]) and August 2019 (case of the SFB [4]). In the SBAC report [5], FODER had identified, during its monitoring mission conducted from 15 to 18 May 2019, evidence that incriminated this unauthorised logging company in forests of national domain to the neighbourhoods of Nkoulkoua and Londjap villages with non-respect of logging technical standards. As for the SFB, based on the facts documented during its mission from 24 to 28 April 2019, ECODEV highlighted that the company was carrying out unauthorised logging activities in a forest of the national domain. FODER’s monitoring mission was triggered after the decryption of 38 alerts collected and forwarded by a community member on the Forestlink platform [6].

    These denunciations undoubtedly led to MINFOF’s subsequent control missions, which enabled the forestry administration to suspend the two companies and open litigation against them. However, it should be noted that the suspension of the SBAC and the SFB is “conservatory” and “it will not be lifted until after the final settlement of the open dispute”, specifies MINFOF. Nevertheless, it should be noted that in addition to stopping illegal logging activities, the two suspended companies will also see their forest products gained from exploitation seized. According to FODER’s reports, the species most exploited by the SBAC in the context of these illegal logging activities are among others: Kossipo (Entandrophragma candollei), Anigra (Aningeria altissima), Ayous (Triplochyton scleroxylon), Padouk, Ekop beli, Okan (Cylicodiscus gabonensis), Fraqué, Movingui. For the SFB illegally harvested woods cover 9 different species namely: Ayous (Triplochyton scleroxylon), Iroko (Milicia excelsa), Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum), Tali (Erythropleum ivorense), White Doussie (Afzelia pachyloba), Red Padouk (Pterocarpus soyauxii), Anigre (Aningeria altissima), Ilomba (Pycnanthus angolensis), Lotofa / Nkanang (Sterculia rhinopetala).

    The denunciation missions undertaken by ECODEV and FODER were respectively conducted with the financial support of the projects: “Citizen Voices for Change: Forest Monitoring in the Congo Basin (CV4C Project)” and the Project “Integrating Community Monitoring in real time to sustain livelihoods and forests in West and Central Africa “(Project RTM2).

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    [1] http://oiecameroun.org/images/documents/SUSPENSION_DE_CERTAINES_SOCIETES_ET_AUTRES_PERSONNES_MORALES_21_octobre_2019.pdf

    [2] www.forest4dev.org

    [3] http://www.oiecameroun.org/images/documents/022_RO_SNOIE_FODER_Nkoulkoua-Massea-Londjap_052019_RTM2.pdf

    [4] http://www.oiecameroun.org/images/documents/rapports/Rapport_mission_SNOIE_ECODEV_Kong_et_environs_032019.pdf

    [5] https://www.oiecameroun.org/index.php/8-actualites/118-la-societe-des-bois-africains-du-cameroun-epinglee-pour-exploitation-hors-limite-de-son-ufa-10050

    [6] ForestLink is an innovative system created to enable communities, wherever they are, to record and transmit in real time to relevant stakeholders geo-referenced information on allegedly illegal activities in forests from areas without a telephone network or internet connection. (https://fr.rainforestfoundationuk.org/str).

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