In July 2019, for the Parade Cameroon project, CDA received support from the PISCCA Programme (innovative projects of civil society and coalitions of actors), the Service de coopération et d’action culturelle of the French Embassy in Cameroon alongside six other Cameroonian civil society organisations: Unité agropastorale du Cameroun (Unipac), Association camerounaise pour le développement durable et l’innovation (Acddi), Association pour le développement intégré et la solidarité interactive, Association des réalisateurs documentaristes camerounais (Ardc), Centre des ressources forestières et de formation continue, antenne Nord (Ceraf-Nord).
What is the Parade Cameroon project?
Based on nine (9) activities, Parade Cameroon is a project for the empowerment of IDPs and refugees in Cameroon. In its first phase (June 2019-January 2020), it aims first to contribute to the inclusion and capacity building of English-speaking displaced persons residing in four districts (sites) in the city of Dschang: Siteu (1), Paid-ground (2), Foto (3) and Foréké (4). Secondly, it is part of the promotion of the socio-economic integration of young English-speaking girls with a favourable impact on environmental management, particularly waste and garbage management. In its second phase, it plans to expand beyond Dschang city to target other areas where IDPs and refugees, regardless of their origin and belonging, are hosted.
Why support the Parade Cameroon project?
The “Anglophone crisis” in the North-West and South-West of Cameroon has several territorial implications, including the displacement of populations from these regions to the Littoral, Central and West Cameroon in search of peace, stability and socio-professional integration. Since 2017, there has been a marked increase in English-speaking populations seeking refuge in the districts of Dschang commune. Several groups of displaced people are identified: students seeking schooling, out-of-school youth seeking socio-professional integration, mothers of children and some professionals seeking shelter and reintegration.
A study report on the displacement of “English-speaking” populations in the city of Dschang Survey on the displacement of refugees: travel constraints (2019) conducted by Babia Ganke Prudence, a health specialist, provides a worrying assessment. Of the nearly 800 English-speaking displaced persons recorded, 66% are women (women and girls) and 34% are men and boys. The most vulnerable groups are young people aged 15 to 35, children and mothers; men are held in conflict areas to be involved in armed conflict, forced or rural labour. At the heart of this target are the idle and hopeless young girls who engage in prostitution in their host cities and all kinds of depraved activity, making their abortion rates high.
Thus, prostitution has become the number one occupation of these displaced and idle populations, apart from motorcycle taxiing or trading in fresh food. Once these populations are in the host country, they face several challenges, the study report states: housing (27%), financial resources (25%), food (24%), language (13%), the environment (climate-relief) (8%), other[diseases, schooling of children] (3%). Hence the question of the empowerment of the displaced, in particular the socio-economic integration of young girls and the empowerment of mothers for the acceptance of living together, the acceptance of the French language as the language of integration for their children who cannot go to school without their authorization. A visit to some schools in the city of Dschang indicates that the English-speaking sections are saturated as a result of this exodus. In addition, the few men who have been able to escape the conflict and who have the opportunity to reinvest in sectors of activity need to be educated and supported in the exercise of their fundamental rights, including the right to work or to undertake.
How can we restore hope to these “English-speaking” young girls who are seeking integration and unemployed and who are forced into prostitution? How can we bring smiles to the lips of these mothers who have experienced the trauma of armed conflict and separation so that they can freely allow their out-of-school children to learn and join the benches in their host city? The question of empowerment has as a corollary that of the socio-professional integration of displaced populations.
Project Parade: an innovation in addressing the issue of displaced people?
PARADE project is the very first project to empower displaced populations about the English-speaking crisis that combines the triptych training-entrepreneurship-public debate with a strong punctuation on the English-speaking girl. CDA is the only Cameroonian civil society organization whose education in structured debate and public speaking is a priority. The project aims to contribute to the inclusive dialogue on the issue of the crisis, but also and above all to integrate some of the project’s beneficiaries into the association’s continental and global circuit.
In addition, we have the capacity, with the support of our partners, to offer these talented young displaced people the opportunity to work or pursue their studies in other areas. To this end, if during our field studies we identify talented young English-speaking students, we could track their record of participation in pan-African and world public speaking competitions in their field. This will allow us to recount the issue of English-speaking travel in a different way. The project could be repeated or duplicated in all the cities of Cameroon that are experiencing the reverse side of the crisis. For example, PARADE-Douala, PARADE-Yaoundé, etc.
Another element on which we intend to stand out is the audiovisual production of the “success stories” of our targets, thanks to one of our partners. The third innovation of the project concerns the involvement of young French-speaking schoolchildren in raising awareness about living together. Seeing young Francophones mobilize to support young Anglophones would be a great lesson to live together.
Finally, we do not just train beneficiaries in local development or environmental maintenance, we want to make them entrepreneurs who inspire other creators.
Is the Parade Cameroon project sustainable?
Primarily intended for the city of Dschang, the PARADE project also targets in the medium term the surrounding areas such as Santchou, Penka-Michel, Mbouda, Bafoussam, Foumban… where large communities of displaced English-speaking populations are identified. The initiative is a long-term initiative, with the hope of generating funding for the continuation of the project on a larger and more inclusive scale. One of the innovative aspects of the project, the recruitment of 50 young English-speaking girls prostituted or unemployed in sanitation and waste recycling, will make it possible, in the medium term, to work on the possibility of permanent jobs in the urban commune of Dschang.
In addition, we would like to use the project’s audio-visual documentary for a global crowfunding campaign to support our young displaced project leaders and young displaced students. Those who will benefit from training on living together, during and after the crisis, with our support, will train other displaced people on the issue of return and living together. Hence the initiative of focus groups with mothers of displaced families for post-crisis reintegration. For more impact and mobilization, their success will allow us to position them in national and international forums on French as a language of integration, peace, dialogue or women’s entrepreneurship. The project is strongly oriented towards the creation of a pole of ambassadors for dialogue and living together, a cardinal value of the Francophonie that makes us proud.