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WWF, CSOs Chart Better Programme Implementation 

By Francis Tim Mbom — The World Wide Fund for Nature’s Coastal Forests Programme, WWF-CFP, has taken new steps to increase the participation of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in its environmental conservation activities. These new steps are aimed at improving livelihoods within areas of the Southwest and Littoral Regions where the Programme is engaged.

Participants pose with WWF-CFP Programme Manager, Dr Forboseh (5th from L, 2nd row)

Meeting in Limbe, June 25, the Programme Manager for the WWF-CFP, Dr. Philip Forboseh, told representatives of some 25 CSOs that the gathering was for them to brainstorm and come up with a methodology that WWF will, henceforth, use to assess the capacity of the various CSOs that it will work with in carrying out its programmes in the field.

The methodology will, ultimately, also serve as the baseline for assessing the CSOs and will also enable WWF to see how the capacity of the partnering CSO can be strengthened for a better working outreach in the field. The gathering had the likes of George Ngwane Mwalimu of Africaphonie; Louis Nkembi of ERUDEF Buea, Martin Etone of CAD in Bangem, CERUT in Limbe, Reach Out  in Buea, among others.

It was a one-day session of intense brainstorming that culminated to the final methodology that WWF will henceforth rely on. Participants came up with three measures: governance, sustainability and management practices, which WWF shall have to rely on in determining the organisational effectiveness of a CSO before it can decide to work with it. For governance, the participants agreed that such a CSO must first be registered with the State, be non-profit making, have a Board of Directors, an Executive organ with a head, a constitution or articles of association and so on.

Participants also settled on the fact that there should be amble elements to indicate sustainability of organisations to work with WWF-CFP, not those that appear today and wind off the next moment. The CSO must have a physical office and not hide in a suit case; must have a bank account in the institution’s name and has co-signatories for transparency purposes, among others. In terms of best management practices, participants settled on the fact that such a CSO must, among other things, have a good organisational structure, proof of beneficiary satisfaction and so on.

At the close of the day, Dr. Forboseh thanked the CSO representatives for their input. WWF-CFP has already been working with community based organisations, CBOs, within protected forests areas of the Southwest and Littoral Regions such as the Bakossi Landscape, the Korup National Park, Mount Cameroon Region and the Bayanbo Wildlife Reserve. The CBOs, by Cameroon Law, are profit-oriented, unlike the CSOs that WWF is about to partner with.

But Dr. Forboseh dismissed fears that WWF was cutting off their support to the CBOs. He disclosed that in their programme, they have already budgeted for funding to the over 70 CBOs already working with them from now to 2016. While some argued that the baseline criteria was a little too high, he, nevertheless, said that they will try to see that CSOs meet, at least, the minimum conditions and they will, also, help raise their capacities so that, they (WWF-CFP) can be sure of getting the required results when such CSOs get to the field.

Reacting to the new approach, Nkembi of ERUDEF said: “It is an excellent opportunity that WWF is bringing to the Southwest.” Etone of CAD said: “The exercise is important not just because CSOs are looking for funding but because they must exist as functional institutions that are out for conservation and development work.”

The WWF Programme Manager thanked the Swedish International Fund for Development, SIDA, which, through WWF Sweden, has been funding most of the activities of WWF-CFP. He recalled the recent offer of some 1,000 scholarships in schools within the Southwest and Littoral that cost some FCFA 45 million with funding from SIDA.

Besides Dr. Forboseh were other WWF-CFP staffers: the Site Manager, Theophilus Ngwene; the ESD Officer/ Capacity Building Advisor, Inyang Ikpe and the Communication and Knowledge Management Advisor, Janet Mukoko. The Workshop was facilitated by Charles Mbonteh, a consultant.

First published in The Post print edition no 01443

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