Sustainability of community-managed projects in the North West Region of Cameroon
There is wide recognition among contemporary researchers that sustaining community-managed projects in rural areas remains a herculean challenge. Empirical evidence shows that about 65% of community-managed projects in sub-Saharan Africa including Cameroon are not sustainable. Community management is one of the strategies widely adopted by project providers at grassroots levels to ensure the sustainability of community projects, yet sustaining these projects after the depature of donor agency has remained a difficult task. It was in furtherance of this approach that this study set out to gain insights into why sustaining community-managed projects in the NWRC after being handed down to the grassroots has proven to be challenging despite the widespread popularity of community management as a bottom-top development strategy that allows grassroots community members to have overall support for their project ongoing operations.
The study was guided by five objectives, and data were collected through 4 focus group discussions held with projects end-users, 12 interviews granted to project committee staffs, traditional authorities and political elite. Additional data were gathered through a survey questionnaire administered to 77 respondents in the four chosen community-managed project sites, documentary review and on-the-spot appraisal of projects. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of the data paved the way for the drawing up of meaningful conclusions and suggestions of ways to improve the sustainability of community-managed projects in the NWRC.
What emerges from the data collected, analysed and interpreted enabled the study to conclude that the strategies adopted so far by community project providers in the NWRC were not effective. The implementation of these projects disregarded the traditional beliefs and practices of end-users and engendered loss of access to shrines, groves and forest-based or water-based resources without providing alternatives. The findings equally show that increasing temperature and reducing amount of rainfall result in a greater incidence of bushfires, which threaten the sustainability of some community-managed projects. Handing down project management to a local community is not synonymous with sustainability. If community-managed projects are to be sustainable, they require the project end-users to have a real sense of ownership and control over the project's ongoing operations as well as an increase in governance capacity and environmentally friendly practices.
- School of Management