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Home arrow Environment arrow Saving the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Organizational Dynamics and Effectiveness of NGOs in Cameroon
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Relationships with Environmental NGOs outside Cameroon

Eighty percent of the 50 interviewees from whom we obtained responses said that their NGO had had some contact with at least one environmental NGO or association or network of NGOs outside Cameroon. Not very surprisingly, all the international NGOs reported having had such contacts, and four of five reported three or more contacts. There was, however, a clear difference between Type I and II Cameroonian NGOs. Thirty-five percent of Type II NGOs reported no contacts at all with international NGOs, compared to only 17 percent of Type I organizations. At the other extreme, 61 percent of Type I organizations had contacts with three or more international NGOs or associations or networks of NGOs, compared to 45 percent of Type II NGOs. This means that Type II NGOs were less likely to have contacts that might lead to financial support, subcontracts, or other forms of assistance from the much better endowed international groups, and they were less likely to benefit from the prestige of being associated with these organizations.

We also asked our interviewees to list the environmental NGOs—or groups of NGOs—outside Cameroon with which they had worked most closely. Table 10.1 shows the results.1

Table 10.1 Types of international environmental organizations, associations, and networks with which Cameroonian NGOs had contact

International contact

Percentage reporting

International Union for the Conservation of Nature

51

World Wildlife Fund

51

International/regional association of environmental NGOs

37

International/regional network of environmental NGOs

34

Specific environmental NGOs from one foreign country

26

Government funding organization from abroad

18

International government organization

15

Private funding organization from abroad

13

Greenpeace

9

Other international environmental organization

6

Other

26

N=35.

Just over half of the Cameroonian NGOs mentioned working with the IUCN and WWF, two large international environmental organizations with extensive operations in Cameroon. Type I NGOs were considerably more likely than Type II NGOs to report working with these two very well-resourced NGOs (53 vs. 31 percent and 67 vs. 23 percent, respectively), another indication of Type II NGOs’ lower access to resources, information, and connections to prestigious partners. Nine percent of our interviewees reported working with Greenpeace, which does not have a Cameroon office, and 6 percent mentioned another specific international environmental organization. About a fourth of the interviewees (26 percent) reported that their NGO worked with a specific environmental NGO that operates in only one other country; all of these were in the developed world. The great majority were in Europe, most frequently in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, but there were also a few mentions of US NGOs. No single NGO was mentioned more than once. Most of the relationships involved various types of assistance provided by the environmental NGO in the developed nation to a Cameroonian NGO.

Just over a third of our respondents said that their NGO was a member of a formalized international or regional association of environmental NGOs. The associations we coded in this category were relatively formal groups that had formalized bylaws and procedures and paid staff. In addition, about a third of our NGOs were members of much less formalized international or regional networks, usually with minimum bureaucracy and few, if any, paid staff members.2 Some of the associations and networks mentioned were international; others were regional, covering Africa as a whole, Central Africa, or West Africa. Almost all of the associations and networks mentioned included only NGOs with a common substantive focus. Reflecting, to some extent, the goals of our NGOs, the most common focus was on water issues, followed by forestry issues. Other substantive topics mentioned included sustainable development, pastoralism, climate change, biodiversity, ape rescue, and permaculture. Two of the networks mentioned were comprised only of youth groups. Only the Global Water Partnership was mentioned by more than one interviewee.

Interestingly, Type II NGOs were considerably more likely to belong to associations or networks (77 percent) than Type I associations (47 percent). It is possible that some Type II NGOs, finding it difficult to establish contacts with individual international NGOs, turn to networks or associations as a source of help, information, or prestige. Networks and associations, however, are infrequently in a position to provide concrete help.

 
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