The Better World Cameroon Team wishes you a very happy and prosperous new year. We are happy to reconnect with you all after a very long time and on behalf of the entire Better World team and staff, we wish to apologize for the long silence and lack of activity on our website, Facebook page and other social media accounts. As many of you may know, Cameroon in the last 3 years has been undergoing a political crisis which has had adverse effects on the country in general and the North West and South West regions in particular, which happen to be the two English speaking regions of Cameroon.
For the past years, BWC and its Bafut Ecovillage project have been facing challenges in carrying their vision forward. Cameroon has been going through a rough patch as a result of the current instability in the country; particularly in the North West and South West regions. BWC being a grassroots organization working with rural communities mainly in the North West Region and with its pilot project the Bafut Ecovillage project being located in this area, it has been very challenging advancing our work especially in 2019 as the current war limited most of our activities and halted our Ecovillage Project. Our Bafut Ecovillage vision 2020 which involved transitioning Bafut, a local community in the North West region of Cameroon into Bafut Ecovillage by 2020 has been taken aback in the process.
However, this didn’t stop us and our vision for a better world from moving forward. We were able to expand our horizons as we continue to impact lives and communities. Through our partnership and collaboration in 2018 with Endress+Hauser and CEIBA (a foreign based partner and local NGO respectively), we are able to expand our concepts of “Permaculture and Ecovillage Development” in the West region of Cameroon, through a project called “Permaculture Bandrefam”. The foundation for this project was applied design and community development through microcredit, water supply, tourism, sustainable agriculture, education and livelihoods which we started in 2018 and continued in 2019.
To this effect, we expanded the scope of our Africa Kitchen Revolution project which we started with the help of our volunteer expert from Germany, Elke Cole in 2014; by building our first ‘rocket cook stove, onsite at “Permaculture Bandrefam. The aim of our Kitchen Revolution project is for women to support women, create work opportunities and save forests. We were able to successfully built three rocket stoves in the West region and trained our first group of women. Also, we were able to replicate our concept of sustainable communities by using our Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage as a prototype and adapting it to the local realities of the West region in terms of culture, indigenous knowledge, tradition and landscape while maintaining a participatory community development process, allowing the locals and community members to identity with and own the project.
As the crisis in the North West Region continued to escalate, it became imminent for the BWC volunteers and staff to find a ‘safe space’ where we could continue our work in our focus areas but at the same time still empower ourselves and gain the necessary skills to be able to develop sustainable solution responses to the current crisis in which youth are the most affected. There was an urgent need for the young people we work with to engage and contribute to sinking the rising rate of displacements, migration and the continuous increase of refugee cases.
Better World Cameroon has continuously sought ways to connect with the wider community through partnerships and networks. One of such partnerships is the Better World Cameroon and Tamera Living Biotope partnership which gave birth to a collaboration between both organizations in the form of a project which allows for a group of young people from Better World Cameroon to spend time in Tamera, Portugal and gain training in peace work and humanitarian relief with the vision of returning to Cameroon to upscale our Ndanifor Permaculture into a resettlement community for persons affected and displaced by the crisis providing a space for them regroup, heal and equally empower themselves by acquiring relevant skills needed to rebuild all they lost; allowing them to reintegrate society as full capacity citizens.
To carryout this project, a partnership was developed between Better World Cameroon and one of BWC’s friends – Tamera Healing Biotope in Portugal who sympathized with us following the current situation in Cameroon and expressed the desire to support in anyway possible . Through this partnership, this project was birth which allows for these young people comprising of a team of 7 including the Director of BWC to travel to Tamera, where they will be trained and empowered to become trainers of trainers in peace work, sustainable lifestyles and community living and humanitarian intervention. The initial idea behind this project is to combine our indigenous knowledge, our work with the Global Ecovillage Movement with this cutting edge concepts to be able to upscale our Ndanifor Ecovillage project into a resettlement center allowing the young people displaced and affected by the crisis to heal and rediscover themselves and in the process, acquire and develop new skills and knowledge needed to fully reintegrate society and contribute to its reconstruction. Our mission in Portugal as at now is to give momentum to addressing the dire humanitarian situation of the youth displaced by the ongoing crisis. We desire to use our Permaculture and Ecovillage concept to train young people and provide them with skills to be able to reverse the migration trend especially in Cameroon.
However, we continue to strengthen and work with our other partners including Ndanifor UK Trust and other European partners to achieve our vision and contribute to achieving the SDGs. We continue to be very present on platforms in the likes of the UN Agenda 2030 implementation and the Sustainable Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions.
In the main time, the Better World Cameroon team in Portugal is organizing a ‘Cameroon symposium’ in partnership with its host organization Tamera in the second week of April 2020 to open a space in Europe for a “Mundo Melhor” using an African model of Social Ecology, Entrepreneurship & Partnership. More details on this in our upcoming press release.