Increasing access to justice in rural Cameroon

by Global Conscience Initiative

The GCI team has been working intensively on The Community Arbitration and Mediation Project (CAMs)during the past months and now we are approaching the evaluation phase of the year. In the course of the past weeks, we have been visiting communities (3 Corners Ekombe, Mbalangi, Mofako Bekondo, Bombe Bakundu) in order to conduct evaluation surveys considering the successfulness of the workshops and mediation training held earlier. The purpose of this survey process is to assess the progress and working standards of the Traditional Councils in the aforementioned communities and find areas in which there is room for improvement, which the CAMs project can address. Prior to the surveys, the CAMs team had observed the Councils numerous times in the last few months and a short refresher workshop was held in all the communities. These refresher workshops were intended to open a dialogue between the councillors and CAM’s staff about various topics, such as formality, transparency, women’s empowerment, consumption of alcohol, human rights and punishment.The valuable information we collected in the surveys will be used going forward to help shape GCI’s future projects and activities, our focus in the communities as well as address the councillors concerns.


Based on the evaluation surveys, it can be deduced that GCI workshops have got a positive impact on the Traditional Councils. In general, surveyed councillors were contented about the function of the Councils and the arbitrating effect they have in the communities. The quantity of mob justice has stayed very limited in all the communities, and only a few cases, if any, has occurred in the last year. This is good news and indicates that GCI’s advocating work has been effective in introducing mediation skills to create a more peaceful environment. Also almost all the surveyed deemed human rights are at work in their community and many of the councillors highlighted that the Councils and GCI’s educative workshops have affected positively on this matter. The largest challenges facing the Traditional Councils were equally surveyed and things such as lack of educative materials, tardiness to meetings and lack of awareness and respect were listed. Hence, even though great development has been done in all the communities, there is always room for improvement and further education, in order to better deal with these problems. Refining councillors’ skills of managing and resolving disputes and increasing people’s overall knowledge and activity in the Councils seem to be the most common actions that require improvement. The role of GCI was seen helpful, especially in monitoring and shaping communities’ capacity in the Councils, but many of the councillors stressed that more training and education considering the basic human rights and laws would bestill needed in the future.


We want to thank all of our donors for your great contribution so far. Your support allows us to improve our projects and make GCI’s advocacy for human rights more effective!All suggestions and comments are welcome, and we encourage you to contact us in any questions you might have!

The Global Conscience Initiative (GCI) Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CAMs) project commenced effectively in the Month of April with three members of the CAM’s team bent on achieving the goals outlined. Some communities were set aside to accomplished the goals of CAMs of work on ten (10) communities categorized in two groups. The groups that need to receive follow up workshops and the other group with sensitization and workshops on the CAMs curriculum. These communities include (Mofako Bekondo,Three Corners Ekombe,Teke, Bakossi Camp,Bombe Bakundu, Mbalangi, Ediki, Barombi Native,Kosalla II,and Kosalla III) all around Kumba with focus also on selecting the community that will solely benefit the one year CAMs program.

The work in the months of April and May consisted of Community preparatory visits to all the traditional Councils of the aforementioned communities. The team’s motives for these visits were to observe the traditional Council Sessions to that have already received the workshops on mediation and related topics. These follow up workshops are based on some specific topics that particular to some challenges or problems still plaguing the management of the settlement of the disputes in the community councils. New topics came up like Formality, proper organization, gender empowerment etc. The councilors of these communities were happy to receive the GCI CAMs team for fulfilling their promise to visit them regularly and see a continuity of the project. They could present some problems to the team in their move to implement what they were taught in the previous year.

The team carried a survey both in the community and amongst the councilors to be able to measure the implementation of the lessons taught during the workshop in the previous years. Mr. John Fongang who is the Chairman of the Bombe council said “ Thanks to this workshops, my councilors have become very conscious on decision making”. This is the impact we are expecting from the community. Even though the results of the survey did not project a great improvement in majority of the communities, they was definitely some remarkable progress.

As a new move of the project to create a booklet containing all the varieties of cases and judgements handled by the communities, over the course of the visits, members of the CAMs team took down a number of Cases that had been resolved in each community in order to compile them and publish in the nearest future. This will help the councils to facilitate the judgment process with this jurisprudence. A copy of the publication will be sent out to all of the communities to serve as a judgment decision guide whereby Councilors both present and the future could refer to during Council Sessions as model for better decision making.

The month of June was characterized fully by workshops based on the evaluation on the visits to each community and the problems discovered in dispute solving. Majority of the councils received the workshops and also extended to the month of July. Due to the heavy rainy seasons and the bad roads, the dateline for the workshops was not respected because of many postponements. But all was done to make sure that the planned meetings held. The number of presence in the workshops meeting was very encouraging to most of the communities than last year because of the need that they have realized for their various communities. The project was rich with human resources by many persons who had applied to do internship with Global Conscience both in the National Universities and International Universities.

Workshops extended to the month of July so as to finish the communities earmarked to accomplish CAMs goal for the year. It was really a successful quarter as the community councilors requested for more like Oliver Twist. The team is now preparing survey sheets to go back to the communities and still measure what has just been put in the community.

We shall remain very faithful and diligent as we immensely thank our donors for the wonderful contributions they are making to this work, Human rights and humanity as a whole to this global world. Your immense contributions have been of utmost importance to the success of this project and we are calling on you not to relent on your efforts as we look forward to a more challenging days ahead. We are grateful for your support.

Traditonal councillor take Mediation quiz
Traditonal councillor take Mediation quiz

The Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CAMs)

 The Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CAMs) project ended very successfully in the year 2014. It achieved its goal in the Community of Bombe Bakundu village in the Mbonge Sub division, South West Region, Cameroon which was the targeted community for that year. After the evaluation, the councilors manifested a mastery of the knowledge on Mediation skills that they have acquired from the workshops carried out by the CAMs team. Despite some challenges in really implementing all that they have learned, they were visibly changes in the dispute settlement session. Orderly speaking, respect of ground rules, fines which were not hash, no drinking of palm wine before or during session, Fair trial etc. were all evidence that they was a change I the council to attract the trust of the community members to bring their cases to them. The number of cases that they received in the months preceding the workshops increased.

 After visiting some communities for sensitization in a move to select the new community for the CAMs project 2014, GCI CAMs team visit to some communities attracted many community interests in the project and appealed to the CAMs team to visit them and teach them these skills of Mediation and about good governance. The team visited Ekombe I&II, Kosala II&III who did some changes and replaced some old councillors, Mbalangi whose council members are new, Barombi Kang, Teke and Etam traditional councils, Ediki, and Kake traditional councils who are operating as the Centers for Arbitration and Mediation. The need was glaring for them to receive the knowledge of the CAMs curriculum. The staff also witnessed the way some of the cases where resolved and could take note of the areas that they portrayed their weaknesses and could quickly assessed their needs as concerns improving on their skills of managing disputes. Coupled with other factors to select a new community, the CAMs team resorted to do survey in more than one community. This is because, they realized that these communities have changed most of their old members and definitely have a new council that needs to be schooled on the Mediation skills and techniques.

 As survey for the need assessment began in January 2014, the team could diagnose so many problems hindering the smooth functioning of the council. The skills were inadequate, poor relationship with the community members in terms of trust and heavy fines and many other problems hindering the implementing of the justice and respect for human rights in the community. The team is assessing the survey now and following the developments of the dispute resolutions in the communities that have received these workshop teachings to build up a code that will help and guide the traditional councilors do their work of dispute settlement better. This will be written as compared to traditional oral laws and procedures that are practiced.

 We shall immensely thank our donors for the wonderful contributions they are doing to improve on this work, Human rights and humanity as a whole. That, their contributions in 2013 led to the success of this project and we are calling on you not to relent on your efforts as we look forward to a more challenging 2014. We are grateful for your support.

Ekombe Tradtional council listen to GCI staff
Ekombe Tradtional council listen to GCI staff

Evaluation phase at Bombe Bakundu and new community for the new year

The Community Arbitration and Mediation project arrived to its test bench. The evaluation phase started with testing directly the knowledge acquired by the councilors during the workshop series. The test was comprehensive of all the topic treated, with a special focus on the rules and strategies for achieving a win-win mediation. The results were a very good starting point for our evaluation considering that, in average,the score was13 out of 15 correct answers. Once the test was successfully passed, it is time for celebrating all the steps ahead that have been done. Therefore, GCI’s staff went to Bombe Bakundu Community for the graduation ceremony, handing out diplomas for the successful participation to the human rights course. This ceremony gave us the chance to remind that all the topic treated during the workshops are interconnected and essential for a peaceful development of the society and strengthen the idea that there is still a lot of work ahead. The participation of all the members of the community, irrespective of their gender, is one of the fundamental steps for building up a society where human rights are respected. But participation is possible only if the persons in charge of public offices are good leaders, able to manage the res publica transparently and to encourage the participation of their citizens without discriminating among tribes. Also at this level, a good governance is better achieved if there is a check and balance of the powers and this is possible only if  councilors can be held accountable of their decisions and actions. And finally, we need good leaders that work in the present, keeping an eye on the future. Adopting the win-win mediation strategies leads to building up lasting and friendly relationships. But there still a long way to go and the Councilors play a pivotal role for bringing a change in their community, that constantly looks up to them. The Traditional Council won’t be let alone in these upcoming challenges: GCI will keep working with the Traditional Council. In fact, the evaluation phase is still ongoing and it entails periodic visits for assisting to the Council’s sessions, observing how new principles and techniques are put into practice and supporting with refresher workshops.

With the approach of the new year, it is time to get started and look for a new community suitable to work with. GCI’ staff in the last weeks visited several communities situated in the Meme Division, in the surrounding of Kumba. The criterion adopted for this choice can be schematized in two general requirements. Firstly, the enthusiasm demonstrated by the Traditional Council to collaborate with GCI, because a change is possible only if all the parties are ready to put effort in it. Secondly, what impact can the workshop series have in the improvement of the Traditional Council’s work. So, GCI, during its visits, observed the Traditional Council at work and subsequently it presented its curriculum following the format of the workshop, in order to explain our work method.The next week the decision about the new community will be taken, so, at the beginning of January, after a formal introduction of GCI, the needs assessment for pointing out the major problematic will initiate.

GCI’s staff wants always to remind all its donors that any suggestion you have for our work is very important and we will be glad to answer to any further doubts you have on our work. We are very thankful for your support!


gender equality workshop
gender equality workshop

Jungle justice events are still happening in Cameroon. Only few days ago, in Kumba, the city where our NGO is located, a man was killed during a robbery by the thief. That morning GCI’s staff was heading to Bombe Bakundu community, for our weekly visit. In the van, all the passengers were shouting that the thief should have been killed as he killed the other man. If this mentality is so rooted in the cities, what can happen in rural villages, where nobody has never even heard about human rights and there isn’t any sort of public authority but the Traditional Council? A step out of this mentality is the goal that our NGO tries to achieve discussing and training the Traditional Council. Only when the Traditional Council will solve disputes in an impartial and effective way, it will become a serious and attractive alternative to jungle justice.

The Community Arbitration and Mediation (CAM) project has been advancing. The workshop series is arrived to an end. From the topic of participation, GCI’s staff moved to discuss in more detail the importance women’s empowerment, considering that Cameroonian women are often marginalized and devoted only to their domestic chores. In the Traditional Council only 4 members out of 25 are women and only 2 participate actively to Traditional Council’s sessions. The understanding that from a major involvement of women, a benefit will derive for the whole community, is the first step for encouraging a durable change. If men are aware of these advantages, they will be more willing to be supportive of their wives and daughters. And change is enduring only if it’s done by the all community. The next topic treated was “human rights”. Only being aware of what human rights are, is possible not to trample on someone else’s right and moving to a peaceful development of the society. This awareness is fundamental especially for persons that hold public offices, who are the principal actors for the protection and implementation of human rights. Finally, we moved to the last subject: mediation. Mediation is the principal task of the Traditional Council. Therefore, GCI’s staff wanted to emphasize the importance of a good mediation and its positive consequences on the development of the community, dedicating two sessions to this topic. Starting with a theoretical overview on the basic rules, GCI’s staff explained in depth the essential mediation technique and how these rules could impact on the work of the Traditional Council as well as on the relationships within the members of the community. But for these concepts not to remain abstract rules, theory must be complemented with practice. Therefore, GCI’s staff dedicated an entire session to mock cases, where the Traditional Council had to solve some cases, like debts and boundary ones, guided by GCI’s staff, putting into practice what they had learnt.

We concluded the workshop phase, but, even if the most intense part of our curriculum series is ended, the relationship between GCI and Bombe Bakundu Traditional Council will continue, for carrying the evaluation phase out. The first step of this new stage consisted in a test covering the topics treated during the workshops taken by all the participants. Then, GCI’s staff keeps maintaining a relationship with the Traditional Council, assisting to its session for monitoring the impact of the workshops during its daily activities. GCI’s staff assisted to one of the session and hearing terms like brainstorming and the relevance of the interest over the position could be already a first indicator that something has been changing in the Traditional Council of Bombe Bakundu.

We value very much the participation of our donors, therefore, we welcome any suggestion on possible topics for the workshops, on the strategies for the evaluation as well as any other possible concern.

icebreaker: good or bad mediation?
icebreaker: good or bad mediation?
icebreaker on mediation
icebreaker on mediation
One of the Councilor taking the evaluation test
One of the Councilor taking the evaluation test



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Organization Information

Global Conscience Initiative

Location: Kumba, South West Region - Cameroon
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Ntebo Ebenezer Awungafac
Kumba, Southwest Cameroon Cameroon

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