Cameroon

For too long the Baka peoples, who are traditional forest dwellers of Central Africa, have been discriminated against, abused and marginalised. Through the development of a Peoples Video Hub called Okani (“Rise Up”) they have secured funding to continue their Participatory Video projects amongst the people of the Central African forests. Location: Mayos Village (near Bertoua) in East Cameroon
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In April 2009, Nick Lunch (Co-Founder & Co-Director) from InsightShare joined the Baka hunter-gatherers in a Participatory Video process that enabled them to document the impacts of climate change on their forest homelands.

This initial PV process, funded by the Global Environmental Facility - Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) with support from the UNDP Global Human Rights Strengthening Programme, culminated in the creation of a unique and powerful film titled ‘Facing Changes in African Forests’. Their video was screened at the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change in Alaska in April 2009 and it received thousands of hits on the front page of the UNDP news website during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May. Read the full article by clicking here.

Through the Conversations with the Earth (CWE) project, InsightShare has been able to support and develop the groups desire to form a community media hub; capable of harnessing the power of Participatory Video as a tool for documenting and communicating on perspectives and realities unique to the Baka indigenous people and a wide range of issues common amongst some of the most marginalised peoples in the world.

  

The Baka people, traditionally isolated and treated as third class citizens, have secured, through the community media hub they have developed, called Okani (“rise up”), nearly $15,000 funding from Plan Cameroon, as a direct result of their very first video. Following this initial funding contract a new agreement has recently been signed for a funding partnership with Plan Cameroon of no less that four years! As part of this new contract Okani has received two new video camera's, a video projector and a PA sound system. This equipement and the funds will help Okani to spread out their PV activities and raise awareness among the Baka communities of their rights.

In order to also encourage local mayors to take into account the rights of the Baka people in their decision-making and actions, Okani has organised a series of awareness raising workshops in local municipal councils. At the moment Okani's main focus is promoting children's rights, which has already resulted in a 13 minute film. Besides, Okani is planning to produce a film about a typical day in a classroom in a Baka village in order to raise awareness among the wider society in Cameroon about the inequalities in education provision.

  

Okani has also started to document their women’s traditional songs and the PV team took the cameras some 350km into the forest to work with Baka living more remotely. Other plans include using PV to raise awareness about hygiene as a response to the current cholera epidemic that Cameroon is experiencing – one of the most severe outbreaks of cholera in decades.

As the Baka are forced to move out from their traditional lands (due to plantations, deforestation and illegal logging), they also lose their language and traditional knowledge that is directly linked with these environments. During the course of 2011 the Okani PV team will explore this theme in depth with CWE funding and will also work on producing a video about REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) with the support from the Ford Foundation REDD Watch.

  

With support from the UNDP and InsightShare (through the CWE programme), this small indigenous-led NGO is becoming a regional hub for PV capacity building among indigenous forest dwellers across central Africa.

“I am convinced by the words of Djengui (the Great Spirit of the forest) who has predicted a radiant future: I feel it is in our hands and I am going to work for that”

Venant Messe, Director of Okani, from the Baka community Association in Eastern Cameroon.

“Participatory videos, filmed by local and indigenous peoples, provide a voice to tell the world about their needs. The process helps build bridges between communities and policy-makers, and enables the poor and vulnerable to assert greater control over their own development, human rights and the decisions affecting their lives.”

Terence Hay-Edie
UNDP

  

In October 2010 Cameroon Hub 'Okani' was invited to present their work as a case study at the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) Side Event, that was held in conjunction with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, during COP10 in Nagoya, Japan. This side event focussed on Article 10: 'Customary Sustainable Use: Examples, Challenges, Community Initiatives and Recommendations' and was a key event for governments, media, experts in the field of biodiversity conservation, representatives of indigenous and local communities, academia, NGOs, IGOs and industry representatives, to share and learn from the direct experiences of indigenous communities living in daily interaction with biological diversity. Okani presented their work together with other FPP's Partners from Bangladesh, Suriname, Guyana, Thailand and Panama. They all presented their own case studies and shared their experiences focusing on: what customary sustainable use is; what challenges these practices face; how implementation of Article 10 at national and local levels can be improved; and what communities are doing themselves to support and accelerate this process. Click here to watch the video of Venant Messe presenting the Baka case at the FPP Side Event at Nagoya.

  


Part of Conversations with the Earth

Through the Conversations with the Earth (CWE) partnership, InsightShare works with Indigenous communities to identify, train, and equip local videographers to enable them to record the impacts of, and responses to, climate change at the local level. Creating and sharing these video stories enables Indigenous peoples to contemplate and present their own perspectives on the effects of climate change to inform the global discourse. This has also created an opportunity to share local adaptation strategies and build donor support for community-based adaptation. Indigenous videographers are training people from other communities, helping to create a regional and a global network of Indigenous communities working on these issues. Communities participating in CWE are creating their own media and linking up through the emerging media hub network.

A CWE media hub is currently a space where video and audio equipment is stored and editing can take place, and is usually based in an Indigenous community or village. It becomes a focal point for communications, empowerment and cultural resilience. If possible, it is connected to the web and has electricity or renewable power source available for charging batteries and laptops etc. Local facilitators, who are paid a small stipend, provide support, resources, and equipment and reach out to include new local groups through developing participatory video projects. In some cases an InsightShare trainer is based here and organizes regional and international trainings and mentoring local indigenous trainers. A hub is envisioned as a catalyst for action in local communities but has a global reach as well. In 2010 the hubs will have the opportunity to broaden their media and communications skills further training by CWE partners and allies.

Latest content from the hub

Facing Changes in African Forests

Forest dwellers feel the heat as traditional seasons fail. Fruits are rotting on the trees due to the excessive heat. Even the forest floor is drying up. ‘Facing Changes in African Forests’ was created by members of the Baka community in eastern Cameroon during a Participatory Video training in April 2009.