Interview of Emmanuel WIRSIY, CAMGEW
Emma, you’re coming back from New York, where you were to receive the 2019 Equator Prize in the work with CAMGEW. Congratulations … What does this reward mean to you?
CAMGEW winning the Equator Prize Award for 2019 is an acknowledgement that “CAMGEW is a Trust to be Trusted”. This makes our team proud of their commitment and community acceptance and encourages them to work harder. This success could not be there without the engagement of the Kilum-Ijim forest communities.
CAMGEW is proud of community ownership of her work that ensures sustainability. This award comes to strengthen community solidarity and show that local actions can have global impacts in tackling climate change. The awards have come to encourage CAMGEW team and forest communities to do more and never to relent their efforts. CAMGEW is proud of citizen engagement in conservation of Kilum-Ijim forest that is shown through the reduction in bushfires (a major forest threat) from 7 in 2012 to zero in 2018 and 2019. This demonstrates that community solidarity can be their insurance to tackle their present community challenges.
Our local actions especially in forest regeneration and agroforestry have shown too that it has a global impact and recognition especially in climate change mitigation/adaptation and this has just encouraged our people to keep working. Our people can see that their engagement has something to do with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
What do you remember from your stay in New York, including meetings with the other winners of the Prize in 2019? Did this trip change your vision and what are the lessons learned?
New York is a city with a difference. I could see diversity of people and the management of space through the construction of sky scrapers. The first time I slept on the 50th floor and could watch the world from beyond. It took me less than a minute to get to the 50th floor on a lift. It was amazing but I was saddened because I saw little nature around like trees. It was busy with night and day having the same light. The Equator prize award ceremony of UNDP took place during UN General Assemly week. This brought together indigenous and local people plus their representatives from all continents. They were people with different cultures, dressing, language, behaviours, religions and different solutions that make the world a better place. It was great watching every winner move on the street of New York with their dressing and speaking different languages. New York dwellers watch with much amazement but it mean less to us as we mind our business.
I left New York deeply satisfied with the efforts of other people in solving the mother earth problems. The winners used different methods to address world’s environmental, cultural, social and economic problems. They were passionate about their work and confident of their workability to end earth challenges. I was confident about my own methodology in solving mother-earth problems. The commitment was clear, the gathering of government, business actors, indigenous and local people and civil society organization to talk about mother earth problems showed to me that we can get a solution. I left satisfied that local solutions are recognized as a way to tackle mother earth problems I left knowing that the solution to climate change is in our hands and that the war can be won with concerted action.
CAMGEW and 21 other winners will join a network of 223 communities from 78 countries that have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002 to continue sharing and learning from each other. As a winner, Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch will receive $10,000 USD to continue forest conservation and livelihood improvement activities in Kilum-Ijim forest area. We thank the partners who will make these funds available to us.
What are the challenges for CAMGEW at the moment, the perspectives and priorities for the coming years? Did your stay give you new ideas to experiment on the ground?
One of the greatest challenges is the socio-political crisis in the Anglophone regions that make work difficult. We pray a solution is gotten for this problem. Despite the crisis CAMGEW has continued working but her funding which came heavily from PPI-FFEM ended. CAMGEW need to engage in fund raising for her activities. CAMGEW need institutional capacity building in financial management and communication strategy. CAMGEW need more funding to facilitate the development of honey value chain. CAMGEW need to build community capacity apiculture, agroforestry and carryout forest regeneration forest monitoring. CAMGEW also wish to promote good forest governance activities. CAMGEW need to work in a synergy with other organizations to develop and execute join proposal.
This award recognizes individuals and their leadership. According to you, being a good leader is what?
Leadership is about decision making. It is also about being a model in your community for others to emulate. Leadership means leading by example or in practice. It is about listening to others, reporting, information sharing and being ready to answer questions when need be. Leadership is about promoting team spirit and engaging project beneficiaries in project planning, writing, execution, monitoring and evaluation. It is a call to serve and not to be served.
Advice to give to young actors of the African civil society wishing to work on environmental issues in Central Africa?
Young actors need to start from small and grow. They need to remain focus believe that small is beautiful. They need to learn how to use small money to attain their project goal. They must learn how to share information and skills among themselves and learn from others who have much experience than them. They must think positive, work hard and be committed. They need to know the future is in their hands and must be handed to future generation in the same way or better state. They must create various partnerships for institutional capacity building, fund raising, staff capacity building, financial management and communication strategy.
More informations are available about CAMGEW and the honey production on this video.