Cameroon: A radio station for the protection of the Waza biosphere reserve

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from L’UNESCO

The Waza biosphere, the oldest in Cameroon, is located in the Lake Chad basin, in the Far North region. It is classified as a forest reserve, wildlife reserve, national park and sanctuary. This special status justified its reclassification in 1979 to the rank of biosphere reserve, recognized by UNESCO.

With its 170,000 hectares in area, the Waza biosphere offers ideal conditions for offering quality ecotourism, in particular thanks to the numerous presence on site of elephants, giraffes, large colonies of different species of birds and felines, among which are lions. Unfortunately, the Waza biosphere is also considered a dangerous place because it is traversed by terrorist groups which constitute a threat to social cohesion.

The biosphere of Waza, this tourist wealth of Cameroon, has been damaged in recent years at the hands of its local communities, threatening its biological, hydraulic and cultural heritage. Despite a certain involvement of these same communities in the management of Waza, there is still a difficult compromise with regard to the direct needs of local residents and the requirements of sustainable management of this rich but fragile biodiversity.

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Almost 30 years after the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, the need to manage biodiversity resources in a sustainable manner appears to be a priority more than ever. In this regard, initiatives aimed at making the concept of sustainable management operational have multiplied.

It is within this framework that the UNESCO Regional Office for Central Africa supports the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Niger, Central African Republic and Chad), to strengthen the resilience of communities in the face of security and climate challenges.

UNESCO, through the BIOPALT project, is supporting the establishment of a community radio station in the Waza biosphere. To ensure the success of this support, the BIOPALT project team made an exchange visit and experience sharing with the local team, which focused on the potential positive impacts of the local radio tool within from the community. In addition, UNESCO is considering other support actions, in particular the restructuring of the building to house the radio but also training, the acquisition of radio equipment and their installation.

In this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, radio appears more than ever essential in the dynamics of mobilization and support of beneficiaries around local initiatives. It also facilitates the creation of favorable conditions for dialogue between communities and improves the dissemination of useful information to residents, in order to promote the culture of peace and contribute to civic education.

The radio is expected to support, in addition, policies and measures to combat poverty and the search for solutions for lasting peace, particularly in the park and areas prey to Boko-Haram attacks in the region.

The BIOPALT initiative, financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), places particular emphasis on the transmission of knowledge and the sharing of experiences in order to encourage the neighboring populations to adopt and enhance the practices of sustainable development to preserve the biosphere reserve and improve the socio-economic well-being of local communities.

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