By Leocadia Bongben
More than 3,000 hectares of rainforest bordering the Dja Faunal Reserve in the Chinese Hevea Sud Rubber has been destroyed.
According to Greenpeace, an international environmental NGO, agro-business promoters are moving deeper into Cameroon’s forest as they calculate the gains they can make from either rubber or palm oil.
Looking at future benefits in palms and rubber agro-industries, land is an essential commodity and the Cameroon destination is good to open up plantations.
This entails large portions of land and has inherent consequences, ranging from encroachment into reserved forest areas, displacement of wildlife and forest communities and climate change. Greenpeace has raised an alarm that agro-business companies are destroying vital rainforest habitat for chimpanzees and other great apes by their expansion projects in Cameroon.
Besides that, the NGO said there are indications that a Cameroon company, Azur, is targeting large portion of dense forest in the Littoral Region, (about 60,000 hectares) adjacent the Ebo Forest and a proposed National Park harbouring many primates, to convert to oil palm.
These are not the only agro-industrial companies that are opening up large areas for oil palm. In the Southwest, Herakles requested for about 75,000 hectares of land for their palm plantation, though Government finally allocated 20,000 hectares.
Dr. Joshua Linder, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at James Madison University, says; “Agro-industrial developments will soon emerge as a top threat to biodiversity in the African Tropical Forest Zone”.
To the Anthropologist; “If proactive strategies to mitigate the effects of large-scale habitat conversion are not soon implemented, we can expect a rapid decline in African primate diversity. In the forest sector, there are lots of projects in mining, logging and agro-business and, civil society proposes that Government should be watchful.
Greenpeace says industrial agricultural concessions owned by foreigners are allocated without proper land use planning.
In this vein, Messe Venant, Congo Basin Regional Representative of Forest Peoples and head of AKANI, a BAKA NGO based in Bertoua, indicates that Government, in giving out concessions, has to relocate the communities.
What obtains is a situation where there is land demarcation and business is going on and nothing is done for the people in the forest. To develop communities, they need to have land, the expert argued. The consequence is that, besides social conflicts arising from clearing the forest due to lack of dialogue with the communities, there are negative ecological impacts, endangered wildlife species may overlap into forest areas with high biodiversity.
Against this backdrop, “Governments need to urgently develop a participatory land use planning process prior to the allocation of industrial concessions”, Irene Wabiwa, Greenpeace Forest Campaign Manager for Africa indicates.
Besides, experts say as the second largest rainforest in the world, the Congo Basin, which includes Cameroon forest, is rich in diverse ecosystems and conserving the ecosystem is vital for the fight against climate change.
According to Richard Eba’a Atyi, Coordinator for International Forestry Research Centre, CIFOR, for Central African Region, even though clearing for agriculture is not the biggest contributor compared to fossil fuel on forest degradation, it has the potential to increase emissions of carbon dioxide responsible for greenhouse gases leading to climate change.
In order to mitigate the effects there is need to plant trees and avoid deforestation, he said.
By Leocadia Bongben
Old electronics: televisions, computers and refrigerators, pose a major challenge in the protection of the Ozone layer at a distance where they can shield the earth from dangerous rays. The Ozone layer is made up of a form of Oxygen known as O3.
Ozone depletion (break down of the ozone layer) is caused mainly by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found in cartridges of fridges, air conditioners and other Chlorine compounds produced in manufacturing industries. Ferdinand Awah is an electronic repairer at the Damas neighbourhood in Yaoundé. He has a stock of old electronics, mostly TV sets in his workshop for repairs.
The TV sets whose bowels are laid open for the most part are aside in parts and some spend their life time here and end up in the waste collection bin. But, Awah is not aware that the equipment he manipulates every day contains substances that are harmful to the atmosphere and human beings. He is also ignorant of the existence of an electronic waste recycling plant where he can dispose of some parts which end up with the cabbage collector, Hysacam.
In Cameroon, a centre for the management of electronic waste Solidarite Technologique came into existence last year as a solution to dispose of computers that were no-longer useful. The Director of Solidarite Technologique, Valery Pichou states that about 8,000 tons of computers get into Cameroon every year besides fridges and refrigerators. It is in this vein that old electric and electronic equipment; pose a big challenge for the ozone layer. There is need to do away with such equipment and not stay long in contact as they emit invisible gases that affect the Ozone layer and irritates the tongue and nose.
Mr Palouma, Sub-director of Waste, Chemical, Toxic, Chemical and dangerous Products Management Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, MINEPDED says the Ozone layer helps to protect the land, against negative effects of certain rays, such as ultra-violent or infra-red rays. But, when the gas is at the lower atmosphere its toxicity becomes poisonous to health, reason why the concentration of the gas has to remain at about 15 to 30 km from the earth for it to play its role of filterring the sun’s rays.
As part of measures to contain the gases, government has installed an Ozone office at the Douala seaport to control equipment imported to ensure conformity. Technical visas are delivered to importers that respect the required norm and sanctions meted out to those who do not conform to standards, he says. Besides, spontaneous visit are undertaken to big supermarkets to check for non- Ozone conform equipment. The law says everyone who hold harmful substances and attracts a sanction of 10-50million. Sensitisation is carried out though mostly on the World Ozone Day, commemorated this year under the theme, “Ozone layer protection, the mission continues on September 16. Being the life-wire of the earth, parties in 1994 signed the Montreal Protocol on Ozone depleting substances and its amendments to protect the ozone Layer. The treaty established legally binding controls on national production and consumption of Ozone depleting substances. Cameroon is also implementing the multilateral environmental conventions such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Pollutants.
The UN Secretary General in his message on the World Ozone Day maintained that, “the protocol has contributed to the fight against climate change as many Ozone depleting substances are powerful greenhouse gases”. Greenhouse gases are a group of compounds that trap heat (longwave radiation) in the atmosphere, keeping the Earth’s surface warmer than it would be if they were not present. Increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere enhances the greenhouse effect which is creating global warming and consequently climate change.
According to Ban Ki Moon, “climate change is affecting communities, economies, and ecosystems across the globe. It is essential that we act to mitigate the threat with the same unity of purpose as we have in facing the dangers of Ozone depletion”. There is always a mixed up with ozone layer processes and global warming processes which Gideon Neba Suh Centre for International Forestry expert, attempts to clarify. There is a direct relationship between the forest and global warming, which is the rise in global temperature caused by high concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere.
“Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most important GHG in the atmosphere and forests (plants) remove CO2 from the atmosphere through the process of Carbon sequestration, a process whereby gaseous CO2 is converted and stored as solid Carbon in plants”, he states. So when deforestation or forest degradation occurs, the Carbon stored in the forest is converted backed into the gaseous CO2 and is released into the atmosphere. This raises the natural concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere leading to a rise in surface temperature which leads to what we call global warming, he argues.
The consequences could be a rise in the sea levels, droughts, floods and plants and animal could become extinct, he says.
This article was published in The Post, No. 01568,page 10,Friday October 3,2014
By Leocadia Bongben
Access to reproductive health services by youths until now has been difficult and mostly non-governmental organizations organized such services.
In order to ameliorate access to reproductive health services, the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA has been providing support to the Ministries of Health and Youth and Civic Development.
Within this context, a youth friendly service was recently installed at the Abong Bang District Hospital in addition to Bertoua and Ngaoundere. The unit of the Batouri District Hospital (East Region) is set officially begin operations by the end of September 2015.
Besides the Garoua and Maroua regional hospitals, eight (8) District Hospitals of East, Adamawa, North and Far North Regions will each have a Service Unit and two in each of these regions suitable for young people.
There are equally plans to open two reproductive health service units in multifunctional centers for youth development (CMPJ) in the East (Bertoua Regional CMPJ) and the Far North (Maroua Regional CMPJ).
UNFPA support is hinged on the fact that in Cameroon youth of 10-24 years constitute 34.1% of the Cameroonian population. Of these, nearly 50% of girls and just over half of boys aged 15-19 have already had sex.
Besides, following the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, DHS, the Far North records 34 percent, North 37percent, East 40 percent and South 47 percent of teenage pregnancies.
To the UNFPA, without supervision, these girls are fragile and under threat from varied and complex issues including sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV-AIDS, teenage pregnancy and abortions, with all the ensuing consequences. More often, due to the shabby reception and stigma among other reasons, they do not want to go to hospitals for treatment or consultation.
Within this precinct, Gabriel Tchokomakwa, UNFPA Programme Officer in charge of Youth, stressed that, “The delivery points in youth support structures respond to the need to meet young people where they offer a local service package including information, listening, counselling, guidance / reference and minimum care depending on cases.»
UNFPA is giving increased priority to adolescents, particularly adolescent girls in national policy and program development in collaboration with partners; civil society, communities and government to encourage policies that can help realize the demographic dividend.
The demographic dividend is the economic benefit that can arise when a population has a relatively large proportion of working age people in relation to non-working (dependents) people, and effectively invests in their empowerment, education and employment.
Such policies include improving access to quality education and jobs, as well as investing in the health, particularly the sexual and reproductive health, of young people.
In this light, UN Representative in Cameroon, Barbara Sow maintains that “A healthy young, well trained and equipped population can advance the economic growth of tomorrow if today’s investment is strategic and efficient”.