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Mayors from 5 councils from the North West and South Region come together to discuss the implementation of the decentralisation framework and improving governance.

Cameroon’s national dialogue has led to the implementation of decentralisation in the anglophone region. Strengthening local governance in the region, especially  is crucial to address community needs – especially those of vulnerable communities – and to realise local development plans. As a result,  International Communities Organisation (ICO) and Cameroon Peace Initiative (CPI) have established a partnership to deliver a pilot programme with selected local councils in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon 

The aim of the capacity reinforcement programme is to:

  • facilitate understanding and appropriation of the decentralisation framework
  • provide capacity building support where gaps have been identified to improve governance

In the long run ICO and CPI believe that this project can lead to increase in participatory democracy, better performance against effective governance principles and an improvement in public services for the residents of those regions

The launch event, held on the 12th of January brought together councils from the North-West – Nkambe and Bamenda 3 – as well as councils from the  South West Region – Upper Bayang and Kumba 2 and 3. Collectively, the councils represent over 1 million people. 

ICO Secretary General Mr James Holmes opened the event, by thanking the mayors for their participation in the pilot programme and setting out the objectives for the year.  Dr Maximilian Onga Nana stressed ICO and CPI’s mission is to sustain peace in the region. Investing to improve governance, within the legal framework set out by MENDEVEL, will contribute to stability and development. The aim of the programme is to support anglophone public authorities to realise the full scope of decentralisation under the current model and improve the quality of lives of many in the region. 

Mr Chinje stressed the importance of effective governance for the development of Africa. He said:

“Conflict creates complex and interrelated dynamics that do not make this task easy. By understanding these dynamics, collaborating with local communities and applying best practices, real and meaningful change can happen. The opportunity is there. To realise it, we must equip people with the right tools and an enabling environment within which they can strive. We must have the input and buy in from the local people”.

Collectively mayors addressed the issues facing their local councils, shared the progress made to improve governance and offered ideas to continue to strengthen challenging areas.  It is clear from the mayors’ speeches that the Anglophone crisis and spillover effects from neighbouring countries has led to mounting pressures. Facing a growing population of IDPs, disaffected young people, reduced agricultural production, interrupted schooling and an increase in gender based violence, councils are looking to improve capacity.

Despite these circumstance local authorities have shown resilience , the Nkambe mayor, Must Shey Nfor said: “we have been developing our approach, broadening our grassroots network and building links with civil society but the fiscal challenges create barriers to our activities.”

Whilst fiscal challenges create barriers to our activities, Tinto council mayor, Joseph Eyong is hopeful that by strengthen the councils partnerships building and management process with the support of ICO and CPI, opportunities to expand solar energy in the region to create jobs and to improve access to electricity could help to tackle low unemployment, lift living standards and act as a catalyst for local economic development.

The pilot programme will be delivered in three phases, the first phase will focus on best practices training, the second on implementation of best practices in day to day process and the third phase will focus on the application of local development plans.