RELUFA (Reseau de Lutte contre la Faim), the Network for the Fight Against Hunger, is a national platform of civil society organizations and grassroots organizations in Cameroon. The network is composed of 13 member organizations who joined forces in a concerted effort to fight poverty, hunger, and economic, social and environmental injustice on a national level. RELUFA gained legal status in 2001.
Our Mission and Vision
RELUFA seeks to promote a society of justice where there is no hunger or poverty and citizens participate actively to influence the decisions that affect their lives.
RELUFA has a mission to combat systemic problems that generate and perpetuate poverty, hunger, and economic, social and environmental injustices. The activities include advocating for the rights of vulnerable groups, including internally displaced people affected by conflicts and indigenous peoples (Baka and Bagyeli “pygmies”). The network also advocates for the recognition and protection of customary land ownership by the state and food security for communities.
The network aims to:
- Create a platform of actors with a shared vision of global human development
- Contribute to national and international efforts toward social justice, transparency and good governance in the fight against poverty and hunger
- Contribute to building awareness of regional, national and global issues affecting poor and disadvantaged populations, and seek solutions to those problems
Cameroon is a country with diverse climates, cultures, and languages. It is also a country endowed with abundant natural resources: oil, gas, minerals, forests, etc. However, revenues generated from the exploitation of natural resources have not contributed to the social and economic development of the country due to corruption. In both 1999 and 2000, Cameroon was declared the most corrupt country in the Transparency International Corruption Index.
Multinational companies are increasingly seeking land in the country’s southern rainforests for mining, forest products or agro-industrial projects. This rush for land is reducing the available land for local communities involved in family farming and therefore generating conflicts between multinational companies and local communities.
Variations in climate have created disparities in food security across the country. The southern portion of Cameroon is relatively food secure due to favorable conditions for agriculture, while the northern Sahel region of the country faces increasing food insecurity due to difficult terrain, extreme weather events, and since 2014, a violent militant insurgency that threatens livelihoods and sustainable food production. The population of the region now includes hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people who coexist with host communities primarily comprised of farmers and herders.
Cameroon’s colonial history makes it one of the rare countries where French and English are the two official languages. Poor political governance has led to the marginalization of the English-speaking population. In 2017, relations between English-speakers and the French-controlled government deteriorated into an armed conflict in the Anglophone regions, leaving 600,000 people internally displaced and another 39,000 refugees.
We strategize our actions around three main themes: Transparency in the Extractive Industries, Land and Resource Justice, and Food Justice. We also engage in emergency response to support internally displaced people who face food insecurity and loss of livelihoods due to violent conflict.
Transparency in the Extractive Industries
Cameroon has significant untapped extractive resources in oil, minerals and gas. The Cameroonian government has developed a policy framework identifying the extractive sector as one of the key sectors for generating revenue for the country’s development. However, the appropriate mechanisms for the effective management of these resources are not in place. With the goal of ensuring that the extractive sector contributes to the development of local communities, RELUFA has identified the following key objectives:
- Monitor the governance of revenues to ensure transparency, fairness and accountability
- Monitor the impact of projects on local communities
- Monitor international resource governance initiatives like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Kimberley Process, and others
- Advocate for transparency and responsible management of the extractive industries revenues for poverty alleviation
Land and Resources Justice
Cameroon does not have a shortage of arable land for agriculture. Paradoxically, most people still suffer from hunger and poverty due to the aggressive land acquisition by multinational agro-industrial companies for the cultivation of palm oil, banana, rubber, sugar cane, etc. As more fertile farmland is grabbed up in these large land deals to produce cash crops for export, access to farmland available for local agriculture is becoming more limited. Under this program RELUFA seeks to:
- Document large scale land concessions in Cameroon and raise awareness of their negative impacts
- Improve transparency and increase community involvement in land transactions in Cameroon
- Support and equip local communities to defend their land rights
With the Sahara Desert stretching out over the Far North region, this part of Cameroon is constantly on the brink of famine. Equally, the Boko Haram Insurgency has added to the food security problems faced by the population. Through the establishment of community cereal banking systems in vulnerable villages in this region, RELUFA hopes to break the cycle of food scarcity and dependency on food distribution programs. The community granaries allow for self-governance of food supplies by villagers and curb price speculation mechanisms that generate poverty and hunger.
All photos courtesy of RELUFA