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ICO has authored a report on the state of civic space in Cameroon, developed in collaboration with 24 civil society organisations (CSOs) in the region. ICO is committed to supporting CSOs through technical assistance and funding for joint initiatives. This report aims to stimulate discussions and pave the way for empowering CSOs, highlighting recommendations from grassroots actors to address the conflict and humanitarian crisis in the North-West and South-West regions.

Engagement with local CSOs during this study revealed several key insights:

Local CSOs possess deep knowledge of community needs, operating not only as service providers but as integral parts of the community. Their vast informal networks of community volunteers grant them unparalleled field access and exposure to the humanitarian needs of the population.

This comparative advantage allows CSOs to continue delivering support to vulnerable individuals amidst ongoing conflict. They provide a range of services, including psychosocial support, safe housing, vocational training, and medical equipment, often at their own expense. International organisations operating in Cameroon recognise the value of this access, frequently partnering with local CSOs to deliver humanitarian supplies, gather localised knowledge, and build community trust. Despite this recognition, the reach and impact of CSOs remain below their potential due to a shrinking civic space, complex operational challenges in conflict zones, and a severe lack of resources, both in funding and technical assistance.

The findings from the surveys and key information interviews conducted by ICO highlight the resilience and ingenuity of local CSOs, demonstrating their valuable contributions to conflict resolution in Cameroon. By directly addressing the barriers faced by CSOs, this study uncovers critical insights into support measures that could significantly improve conditions for these organisations. These recommendations include:

  • Capacity building on financial management and organisational development, coupled with sustained long-term financial support.
  • Aligning grant eligibility criteria to match the capacities of CSOs and broadening reporting methods for funded projects.
  • Empowering organisations to offer long-term support through hands-on capacity building.
  • Creating and strengthening linkages and forums for collaboration between organisations.

To access the full report, please download it below.