The idea of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is today more than ever before taking root in Cameroon. One finds that all over the country, whether at the sub divisional level, the divisional level, the regional level or the national level, Cameroon does have its fair share of NGOs. They are involved in a wide range of disciplines including education and empowerment, rural development, youth unemployment, poverty reduction, illiteracy and human rights. Even so, more and more are being formed, although it must also be said that quite a good number are also folding up, mainly due to mismanagement. In many ways, the spectacular rise and growth of NGOs in Cameroon can be likened to that of Micro Finance Institutions (MFI), because they too have made a mark on the country. Both kinds of institutions are a valuable partner to the state because they fill in a gap which otherwise would have been left gaping, considering the fact that the state is engaged in many other nation building projects.
A typical example of the upcoming NGO is LUKMEF CAMEROON, which in full stands for ‘The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation’. It is an NGO located in the South West Region of Cameroon. It was started eleven years ago by a Cameroonian, Tanyi Christian, who is its President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Areas covered by LUKMEF include peace building, democracy, human rights, education, poverty alleviation and HIV AIDS impacting over 10 000 persons in the South West and North West Regions of the country. LUKMEF believes that durable peace, democracy, the respect of fundamental human rights and sustainable development are achievable in Cameroon so that every citizen and every generation can be capable of attainable their life expectancies. The organization’s methodology involves harnessing the power of networking, advocacy and participatory development across communities. The organization was founded on the principles of non violence, equality, the promotion of human values and sustainable development in Cameroon.
LUKMEF is internationally connected. It is managed by an international Board of highly skilled and motivated directors in a fine crop of countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Holland, Austria, Germany and Cameroon. With the diversified background of board members, LUKMEF is able to be endowed with a sense of direction, insight and organizational development as well as furtherance of the capacity to undertake and execute projects.
The organization which is located on the basement of the Donangu Pharmacy Building at Half Mile, Limbe, was officially commissioned in 1999. Thereafter, it simply hit the ground running and successfully completed one project after another. It is in this way that a year after it took off, the organization set up a computer training programme for the underprivileged in Limbe. In 2001, it opened an Office in Mutengene to help in the training of youths as a means of fostering development and reducing crime and prostitution in the locality. From 1991 to 2002, LUKMEF helped the Njom community in the North West Province with the construction of the first phase of a potable water system. In 2002, the NGO opened an Information Centre to help schoolchildren gain access to modern technology and through it, get connected to the world and even get educated about the HIV AIDS pandemic. The following year, LUKMEF assisted Mbenjome village in the Santa-Awing area of the North West Region with the construction of the first arm of a river bridge, thus easing access for farm-to-market transportation.
In 2004, LUKMEF made an impact in the domain of women empowerment and sustainable environmental management with emphasis on the domestication of wild vegetables for sustainable livelihood. This was done through a study carried out on the sustainable management of Non Timber Forest Products in some 15 villages of the South West, West, East, Centre and Littoral Regions of Cameroon. As a result of the study, one of Cameroon’s most sought after vegetables, the ‘eru’, will now be domesticated in these regions once the funding is available. Eru is an indigenous vegetable rich in vitamins and minerals. One of its biggest attributes is that it can grow naturally in the wild. Before the study was carried out, it was found that poor production and handling methods threatened the existence of the product. The need to salvage the situation is all the more urgent as eru has became a commodity not just being widely consumed in Cameroon but also increasingly being exported to other countries such as Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and even the United States.
Still in 2004, LUKMEF carried out a study consisting of documentation of issues affecting women in the context of HIV in the South West Province. In 2005 the organization provided funding to a number of women groups to start small businesses. This was done in partnership with another NGO, CARE IInternational. One year later LUKMEF set up and supported a task force for the protection of the rights of women, orphans and people living with HIV AIDS. The same year, the NGO organized the first National Women’s Conference on HIV AIDS with a view to giving women, orphans and people living with AIDS a voice in the fight against HIV AIDS. This was done in partnership with the US embassy in Cameroon, CARE International, the British High Commission, John Hopkins and the Limbe City Council. Still in 2006, LUKMEF organized the Students against AIDS project. Projects carried out in 2007 include the first ever detailed study on the root cause of inter ethnic conflicts in the North West Region of Cameroon. In 2008, the NGO granted scholarships to three Cameroonians to study development project identification, proposal writing and internet research. In the same year, it trained the rural population of Ndop in the North West Region on development projects identification and project writing. It also conducted a field study on how to improve rice production in the North West Region
LUKMEF is seeking funding to extend the eru programme to more rural women not only in the South West but in other regions. In the pipeline are also more demonstration farms and an enlarged seedling research and production centre envisaged for the town of Limbe. When completed, the centre will study vegetable variants and take on training and capacity building. Another project for which LUKMEF is seeking funding is that of developing community fish ponds. When completed, the project is expected to help communities to farm fish of various species. One of the fall outs expected is an improvement on the diet and income of villagers as well as a reduction of the environmental pressure caused by sea fish farming.
Ongoing activities undertaken by LUKMEF include the promotion of information and communication technology in schools, promotion of peace education in schools, a study on community fishery projects, finalization of documentation for the eventual construction of a Peace Institute in Cameroon, completion of the documentation on a site for the construction of a Computer Academy, intensification of AIDS sensitisation in schools and the setting up of an AIDS Tele-counselling Centre to help with a 24 hour information service in support of infected and affected persons as well as their families.
South West Region
Republic of Cameroon
TEL: FAX: (237) 3333 2860
TEL MOBILE: (237) 9998 7629 / (237) 7794 7447