Rural development plays a significant role in Cameroon’s economy. In a country where close to half the population lives in rural areas, new funds can affect many people.
With support from AFD, the EU, World Bank and German development bank KfW, the PNDP serves the East, Adamawa and the North, and coordinates the roll-out of thousands of projects in partnership with municipalities throughout the country.
Since the PNDP began work in 2004, it has coordinated and carried out thousands of projects with local communities on a scale that is hands-on and participatory, using technologies that suit local needs. A series of case studies illustrate how they’re playing out today – and what’s at stake.
A series of case studies illustrate how they’re playing out today – and what’s at stake.
The National Community-Driven Development Program (PNDP) supervises the implementation of rural development projects financed by the European Union and AFD. Despite fears that such an ambitious program, deployed across Cameroon’s 360 municipalities, was too ambitious and spread out, it has benefited from public input.
The program is decentralized, with a participatory system that places the community at the heart of its actions. In this way, rural development is grounded in the empowerment of municipalities and villages, where locals become actors in their own development. This approach aims to break with top-down development projects that are planned far from the site and then imposed on communities with little or no consultation with the people affected.
The PNDP’s participatory approach seeks to marry popular input with financial assistance from major donors, such as the World Bank, which provides the majority of its funding. The PNDP also benefits from technical and financial support from AFD through the C2D initiative (Debt Reduction-Development Contracts), as well as the European Union’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the European Development Fund.
Whether it’s schools, bridges, access to water, pasture or farming facilities, villages and municipalities play an important role in the assessments of community needs.
“The PNDP uses a didactic approach, which both seeks to build and empower the people affected,” says technical coordinator Frédéric Bandon.
“It’s a process that encompasses all stages of development, from the building and completion of a project, to its ongoing maintenance.”
Beyond bridges, schools and infrastructure, development projects are also targeting local investment.
The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa for instance, supports investment projects promoting the employment of young people in the northern regions, using something called High Labor Intensive (HLI). Mobilizing local labor forces for construction sites on a large scale, the program provides training activities to young people. In some cases, a portion of the salary is deposited in a savings account at a micro-finance institution, thus allowing trainees to start saving.
Lacking prior professional training, Angeline Mebouskua worked at the construction site of the artificial pond and borehole at Ndoukoula in the far north of the country.
Earning about 3,000 CFA (€4.57) a day, the 28-year-old housewife and mother of five managed to save 80,000 francs (€122), which she has invested in a new sewing machine. Now that the construction project is complete and her contract has come to an end, Mebouskua has begun training to start her own business.
“The money I’ve earned allows me to provide for my children’s health, education and clothing,” says Mebouskua. “I am saving more money to build a small workshop and then purchase a second sewing machine.”