Relationships with Other NGOs
NGOs operating in Cameroon maintain numerous positive relationships with other NGOs; however, many of these are relatively superficial.
Below we offer suggestions for strengthening them in ways that will benefit both NGOs and the environment.
Strengthen Relationships between International and Cameroonian NGOs Such relationships are important because the two types of NGOs can complement one another. International NGOs have deeper expertise and more funding, but they can carry out only a few types of projects in selected localities. On the other hand, Cameroonian-based NGOs, though not as well staffed and equipped, exist throughout the country and work on almost every environmental problem. They are also generally more aware of the sociocultural context in which they operate and have the potential to work effectively with it because of their local affiliations. Fruitful partnerships will require that Cameroonian NGOs be able to operate professionally, so international NGOs will need to expend resources, time, and patience to work with and assist their Cameroonian counterparts. This will necessitate making working with Cameroonian NGOs a key objective alongside their environmental protection goals. This will require, in turn, undertaking the hard work needed to convince their supporters in developed countries that assisting Cameroonian NGOs is worth doing and can enhance environmental protection in the long run.
Some areas where international NGOs could offer particular assistance include offering capacity building and staff training opportunities to local NGOs, especially in the areas of grant writing, organizational and financial management, fund-raising, advocacy, communication technologies, and web design. For their part, Cameroonian-based NGOs must learn to complement the efforts of international NGOs by employing experienced staff and initiating viable projects that can also attract funding from diverse sources, such as funds for environmental education.
Strengthen Relationships among Cameroonian-Based NGOs There is also potential for strengthened cooperation among Cameroonian environmental NGOs. More joint grant proposals and joint projects might go a long way toward increasing effectiveness and increasing fund-raising success. There are, of course, obstacles to such cooperation: the psychological investments that NGO staff and supporters have made in “their” NGO; the fact that NGOs can serve as sources of livelihood and social position for their staff and officers; and the history of competition among NGOs for very scarce external funds. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine that sincere efforts to produce joint projects and funding proposals— and perhaps, in some cases, mergers—would not increase the chances of success and the effectiveness of the sector.