D-134, First Floor, East of KailashNew Delhi-110065Tel.: +91 11-26217459Email : firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite: www.ivoindia.org
My placement was away from the Capital city Yaoundé and a sizeable distance from Bamenda theregional town of North West Cameroon. I was given a house of 7 rooms but it had no water nordid it have toilet/latrine facilities. To play safe, I decided to abstain from eating food so as to avoidany need for the toilet facilities. However after suffering for 8 days, I felt I could not abuse mybody any longer. I decided to struggle for my basic rights. Hence, I contacted the program office,informed them of my plight and requested for proper accommodation. I reminded them of thefact that when I was accepted my placement, I made it clear that this type of accommodation wasnot appropriate. They arranged with my partner and they relocated me to another house whichwas more decent, though without electricity. I was assured that it was a temporally arrangement.Having moved to a more decent house, I felt motivated to begin working. I met the Mayor andother people whom I was to work with. I began acquainting myself with the work situation inrelation to the local government and decentralization program. I discovered that the work ethicsof Cameroon were different from what I was used to because the people fear change hence notflexible yet the Participation and Governance program requires a changing fundamental attitudeand flexibility in beliefs. Corruption is another very big issue which is very widely spread,undermining any program that is attempts to uproot it. This was more spelt out when the reportof Transparency International of 2005, declared Cameroon to have been the most corrupt countryin Sub-Saharan Africa, that year.Since this was a new program for VSO Cameroon, It too felt challenged but as professionals, weworked hand in hand, volunteers and the program office, jointly feeling our way together toensure we were all on the right path. At times we went stray but we could put our heads togetherto pull through.In my council, I was among rural poor, in the Community of Babessi. It was established as a councilin 1996 but it had been experiencing and had Management and Governance problems, hence itcould not progress as desired. Each of the three main entities of local government (The Council,the Mayor and the community) were isolated from each other. Decisions concerning the councilissues like the budget were made by two top persons (Secretary General and Mayor) withoutconsulting; no involving the community. Procedures seemed more important than the content. Allthis made me realize that it was going to require a very steep challenge to implement the goodgovernance programme.
So what did I do?
I needed to develop a Strategic Plan to implement these changes. VSO has produced very goodguidance but as always this principles need to be applied in practice and therefore I needed to beflexible, pragmatic and adapt as required.
I decided I would work towards five goals:
, I need to establish an open and constructive relationship with the Mayor and HigherAuthorities.
, I needed to actively engage the Community in gaining an understanding of theirresponsibilities to active participation in decision making for their own benefits.
, To increase the level of awareness of councillors and their responsibilities towardscommunities.