Cameroon’s development challenges hinge on the “Cameroon Vision 2035” document which draws inspiration from the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. “Cameroon Vision 2035” served as a basis for the elaboration of the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (GESP) in which the government of Cameroon reaffirmed its commitment towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The GESP is a second generation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in which the notion of IWRM is clearly stated. Cameroon is, however, lagging behind its national IWRM work plan defined in the IWRM orientation report adopted by all stakeholders in October 2005.
The process of preparing Cameroon’s IWRM plan started with the setting up of the Global Water Partnership Cameroon (GWP-Cmr) in June 2005, designed to facilitate the planning process by creating a neutral platform for all water sector stakeholders in Cameroon.
The national IWRM planning process can be summarized into four major phases, namely; mobilizing political will, conducting situation analysis of the water sector, developing strategic options from the problem analysis, and preparing the national IWRM Action Plan. During the implementation of the program, much emphasis was given to capitalizing and aligning with existing and ongoing initiatives.
GWP-Cmr further ensured that water sector stakeholders were trained on the concept of IWRM so that they could effectively participate in the national IWRM planning process. Special attention was given to the participation of women and youths. Overall, it is estimated that over 311 people from about 126 partner institutions were trained within the context of the PAWD-II programme.
The national IWRM planning process was incorporated as a strategic activity in the Economic, Financial, Social and Cultural Program of Cameroon for the year 2010 presented by the Prime Minister, Head of Government to Parliament in November 2009. As a result of its capacity building activities and demonstrated technical competence, GWP Cameroon obtained a small grant from UNESCO Cameroon to elaborate the State of the Environment on Fresh Water report for Cameroon.
As a result of the project, the foundation for the elaboration of an IWRM Strategy and Action Plan has been laid with the strategic options identified. These strategic options still need to be adopted by stakeholders before the IWRM Action plan can be elaborated.
The PAWD-II programme came to an end when the final major phase was still in its infancy due to difficulties which plagued the process like a lack of harmonization on some specifics such as voluntary service within the Project Team, allocation of financial resources by the government, absence of and poor storage of data and information in the country.
Among lessons to be learned from the process are:
- The preparation of appropriate or summary documents that present the key facts and results in a simplified and concise manner is crucial for effective participation in the future;
- The members of the national IWRM Project Team should be completely detached from the administration and assigned to work full-time on the national IWRM planning process. This would ensure the project is completed on time;
- Adopting the principle of “voluntarism” in operational functioning constituted a major handicap to the progress of the PAWD program activities. The voluntary approach to work is realistic when a program is being elaborated, and not during implementation.