Consider Pursuing Neglected Goals

Our research shows that, although a few NGOs do pursue them, some important environmental problems and activities have not received much attention from the environmental NGO sector. These include fighting air and water pollution, conducting research, influencing public policies, and promoting enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. Although there are financial and political obstacles to taking up such goals, all are key areas that would benefit from the attention of a more fully developed environmental NGO sector. Greater emphasis on research, for example, would enable NGOs to carry out more effective campaigns against noncompliance with laws governing lumbering, mining, hunting, and oil exploration, and work with government to enforce these laws, particularly against multinational companies. This is feasible only if the NGOs have the necessary knowledge of these laws and the situation on the ground as well as the capacity to work with government and international agencies such as the World Bank and the United Nations Environmental Program.

Unite Community Development and Nature Protection Because of endemic poverty in Cameroon, it is difficult for citizens who live in or near nature protection areas to adhere to laws protecting them unless communities are provided with alternative sources of livelihood, since the creation of areas that are protected against hunting, farming, herding, and exploitation of non-timber forest products often deprives them of their traditional livelihoods. NGOs that pursue the establishment of nature reserves, primarily international NGOs, must therefore make supporting local livelihoods a key objective—not just a secondary objective to which they give lip service or pursue only because they must. Otherwise, local communities are likely to undermine their efforts, and only huge expenditures for resentment-provoking and heavy-handed enforcement will stop them. Moving in this direction requires that the research capacities of the NGOs be good enough to understand the needs of each community and determine the best alternative livelihood options. It also requires putting in place feedback mechanisms that enable NGOs to hear both from the people they serve and the donors who fund them.

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