Economic, Political, and Social Context

Cameroon’s environmental NGOs operate within a social context that strongly conditions their goals, strategies, and activities. This chapter examines the Cameroonian economy, Cameroonian politics, and other selected aspects of social structure that potentially impact environmental NGOs. The situation in Cameroon is, in many respects, like that of other African countries (see chapter 2), although there are, of course, some unique features.

The Economic Context

Cameroon’s economic history and current economic status influence the nature and severity of environmental problems, the capacity of government to combat these problems, the availability of financial and other resources needed by environmental NGOs from various sources, the availability of volunteer labor, the propensity of citizens to found environmental NGOs, and many other aspects of NGO operations.

Brief Economic History

Cameroon’s economic trajectory has been marked by periods of both progress and retrogression, but it remains today a relatively poor country. Its economic misfortune can be attributed partly to endemic corruption and mismanagement, but a number of external forces have significantly hindered economic development. These include Cameroon’s colonial history, continuing exploitation by countries of the Global North, the requirements of international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank, and the recent global economic crisis. A great deal has been written about this topic (M. W. DeLancey, 1986; Devarajan and Benjamin, 1986; Ndongko, 1986a, 1986b; Williams, 1986; Van de Walle, 1990, 1994a; Jua, 1993; Takougang, 1993a, 1993b; de Jong and Harts-Broekhuis, 1995; Konings, 1995, 1996; Goheen, 1996; Amin, 1997; Endeley, 1998; Fodoup, 1998; Manga, 1998; Takougang and Krieger, 1998; Fonchingong, 1999; Gabriel, 1999; Page, 2002; Gros, 2003b; Mentan, 2003; Fonge, 2004; Fonjong, 2004, 2006a, 2007a; Mbaku, 2004b; Rudel, 2005; Endeley and Sikod, 2007; Parrot, Sotamenou, and Dia, 2009; Tanga and Fonchingong, 2009; Ojong, 2011; Fonjong et al., 2012, 2013). We have collected and cited all of the relevant references in the preceding sentence to avoid long lists of repetitive references in what follows.

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