Working with the Baka community in Cameroon | WWF

Working with the Baka community in Cameroon

Posted on 07 February 2017
Bantou and Baka women fishing shrimps in a river on the edge of Lobéké National Park.
© Olivier Van Bogaert / WWF
Forests cover about 42 per cent of Cameroon’s land area. Home to incredible biodiversity, they are also central to the lives and livelihoods of several communities ‒ especially indigenous peoples like the Baka. Living in the east and south of Cameroon, the Baka have depended on the surrounding forest for countless generations. Numbering around 25,000, the community is threatened by deep-rooted poverty due to marginalization and lack of access to education and employment. The forests are also under severe threat from logging, together with mineral and oil extraction. WWF is helping the Baka to earn a sustainable living, gain better access to education and healthcare, and to protect the forests they depend on.
 
Creating a ‘buzz’ for business
WWF-Cameroon has been working with other partners to help support six eco-cooperatives in the Bakossi landscape. One of these is the Tombel Conservation Cooperative, consisting of five community-based groups, which aims to sustainably produce and sell high-quality honey. The co-operative has encouraged people to take up beekeeping, addressing many threats to forests and wildlife associated with honey hunting such as tree felling and bush fires. Importantly, this activity has also created a welcome source of income for over 350 members of the co-operative. With honey sales already bringing in revenue for both members and the wider community, the co-operative now has its sights set on selling other hive products.
 
A forest for all
WWF has played a key role in creating community forests and sustainable hunting zones in Cameroon. This helps ensure the Baka and other indigenous peoples maintain strong ties with the lands where they’ve lived for centuries, as well give them employment and an income. And, of course, it also gives them a strong stake in protecting the forest and its wildlife. In the Boumba and Ngoko Divisions in East Cameroon for example, local communities and councils received over FCFA 70.6 million (approx. USD 114,000)) in 2016 through taxes paid by people who pay to hunt within their community and hunting zones. The money supports community development projects, as well as pays for forest surveillance and anti-poaching operations. Find out more about how community forests are benefitting the Baka.
 
Educating for success
WWF recognizes the importance of education in challenging the historic marginalization of the Baka community. Extreme poverty and limited access to schools have long posed a challenge for Baka keen to send their children to school. WWF therefore launched a scholarship programme in 2013 to promote the education of indigenous Baka children living around protected areas. Enrolment in school and academic performance of the Baka children supported by the programme has seen steady progress. 


Bantou and Baka women fishing shrimps in a river on the edge of Lobéké National Park.
© Olivier Van Bogaert / WWF Enlarge
A well newly created in a village nearby Lobéké National Park. Several wells supplying local communities and Baka pygmies with drinking water have been created thanks to money provided by sport hunting fees.
© Olivier Van Bogaert / WWF Enlarge

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