We recently collaborated with local Cameroonian NGO, APIFED on a robust social programme aimed at strengthening relations and communication between our Sudcam plantation and its neighbouring communities. APIFED’s local Cameroonian knowledge and on-the-ground experience has proved invaluable in engaging with local and indigenous Baka and Bantu communities, and in making essential services accessible to this wider population. This has also enabled the teams to respond swiftly with one of the earliest and most large-scale Covid-19 awareness campaigns in the region since the announcement of the first cases in April 2020. The objective of our most recent community engagement was two-fold:
The APIFED and Sudcam representatives recently met with village chiefs across 42 local and indigenous villages to confirm the approved data gathered from previous community consultations. Each community chief invited ten representatives, required to include women and youth, who were given a document in their language that detailed finalised proposals for social initiatives and measures to address past grievances.
Additionally, door-to-door visits in larger communities (housing over 2,000 people) ensured that the teams could reach more people whilst avoiding gatherings of large crowds, as prohibited during the Covid-19 lockdown. Whilst the pandemic has postponed the launch of certain initiatives, the communities expressed their satisfaction with the clarity and transparency of the process.
Discussions were extended to the Mayor of Meyomessi who voiced appreciation for APIFED and Corrie MacColl’s substantial efforts to actively improve relations, and extend this to the communes currently facing decentralization in Cameroon.
He also expressed his commitment to coordinating a tripartite working session between his municipality, Sudcam and APIFED. This would be followed by a working session with local Mayors in Djoum and Meyomessala to create synergy with other municipalities, the administration and representatives.
At a time of isolation and reluctance to enter new communities, the APIFED-Sudcam teams mobilised to raise awareness of preventative measures from an early stage. The teams addressed the community members, seated at least a metre apart in compliance with government instructions. Awareness posters with images and translations into local languages proved a key tool in visually conveying this information.
Prevention kits were also distributed to 20 communities, control posts and town halls consisting of 1,500 400g soaps, 1,500 face masks and 35 hand washing barrels, with the teams demonstrating how to correctly use these.
The teams also coordinated with the Director of the Djoum District Hospital to provide face masks and a handwashing barrel for its 22 staff and patients.
Additional donations of soap were given to market vendors in Djoum and Meyomessi, and face masks were given to security guards responsible for disinfection at the Sudcam entrances. The teams will continue to vigilantly monitor the adoption of masks for anyone entering the Sudcam plantation.