By Kowac K. K. Bandolo
Through a project dubbed, ‘The Mapping and Forest Governance Programme, The Congo Basin, Cameroon’, the Nguti Council can today boast of a land tenure and land use document put together by a Civil Society Organisation, Ajemalibu Self Help, AJESH, with the financial assistance from a UK-based NGO, Rainforest Foundation UK, RFUK, through a community participatory management approach.
Nguti municipal council in Nguti sub-division of the Kupe-Muanenguba division of the South-west region, it should be noted, is a vast area with many resources but is still little known and less exploited for the access roads are very bad and at times impassable. The geography of the area has never been carved out.
Though situated and surrounded by Ndian and Manyu Divisions, Nguti sub-division, which was created in 1967 and went operational in 1968, remains very enclave and a mystery to tourists and modern scholars of environmental studies.
Faced with the aforementioned challenges, the United Kingdom Non Governmental Organisation, Rainforest Foundation UK, RFUK, created in 1989 with mission to support indigenous people and traditional populations of the world’s rainforest in their efforts to protect their environment fulfil their rights to land, life and livelihood, with its two Cameroonian counterparts; Ajemalibu Self-help, AJESH, and Foret et Development Rural, FODER, took interest in the people’s plight.
Meeting in the Nguti council hall for a workshop, the local NGOs and the communities brainstormed on the problems of the sub-division and came out with a land tenure and land use document which will expose the realities of the sub-division.
Working through a community participatory management approach, the communities and the experts put their heads under one thinking cap and mapped out a comprehensive document which today looks like a roadmap for the discovery of Nguti sub-division.
Talking about the land tenure situation in the Nguti municipality, the community and the facilitators agreed that the Nguti council area is difficult to be properly mapped due to problems of migration. They recognised the fact that the peoples have been constantly migrating in search of better freedom, independence and land. It was also discovered that many villages germinated as a result of war and man’s quest for exposure and this gave birth to large areas and populations without clearly defined customary boundaries.
By land use, the communities and the facilitators realised that the villages are mostly involved in activities such as gathering, hunting, fishing and farming which constitute their main economic activity and source of livelihoods.
In mapping the villages, the facilitating bodies and the community actors put their findings together before weaving them into a fine council document christened, ‘Nguti Council, South West Region, Republic of Cameroon, Forest communities and Their Traditional Way of Life, ready for reference and consumption’.
At the end of the day, all the parties nodded in delight that the project was a stitch in time to open the Nguti sub-division to development, poverty reduction and tourism.
By Kowac K. K. Bandolo