Municipal Development Counselling (MUDEC) Group .:: MUDEC GROUP ::.
  • Our Mission

    • Reducing poverty in our municipalities through encouraging gender equality and increasing citizen (End User) participation in democratic and governance processes.

UN Women GRB ( story from the field,press release on GRB,summary of first & second quarter activity report)

Negotiating the GRB Process in Local Councils in Cameroon

                                    (…..Thinking Globally but Acting Locally……)

It was July of 2010 (signing of an protocol agreement between MUDEC Group and the European Union Project on Civil Society Restructuring in Cameroon called PASOC) when a new dispensation was ushered into the lives of several women who hitherto were structured to think that the workings of local government were the preserve of older men….generally 50 years and above….. (senior farmers, business persons, traditional authorities or retired civil servants).  Many rural and urban women were compelled by social constructs to cater for the children, their spouses and Church related activities. After July 2010, thirty women leaders from each of the six (06) pilot councils within the South West Region of Cameroon were identified and coached on the need to pay closer attention to the functioning of their local councils. They were sensitized on International Instruments (think Global) that have been ratified by the Government of Cameroon including the MDGs , the Beijing Action Plan, the Maputo Convention, CEDAW, and  the Accra Accord to mention a few.  They were further sensitized on the new dispensation on Decentralization in Cameroon through which the government had taken an irreversible turn toward greater participation of the citizenry in the development efforts of their municipalities. These instruments include the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, the 2004 Law on Decentralization and Cameroon Vision 2035. None of these national instruments highlights the cross cutting issue of gender. Further trainings were organized on Budget Tracking and Gender Responsive Budgeting in Local Councils. These trainings were designed to stimulate and consolidate the gains attained from the sensitization exercises. Municipal Decisions bearing on engendering the budgets of the 6 pilot councils were signed and promulgated into law by December 2011. However, it became apparent that both council authorities and beneficiary groups (mostly women and youth) were frustrated as a result of their inabilities to put theory into practice.

Within the framework of a cooperation agreement that was signed between MUDEC Group and the UN Women, new impetus was injected into the GRB process leading to new found hope from the local stakeholders. A study of the pilot councils was engaged targeting Mayors, Female Deputy Mayors, Committee Chairpersons, and Councilors, Secretaries General, Female Municipal Treasurers, Female Development and Finance Agents, Finance Officers, Beneficiaries of Council Services and Council collaborators.

v Objectives :

i)                   To ascertain the degree of implementation of Municipal Decisions bearing on GRB in pilot councils.

ii)                To determine the challenges encountered by councils in engendering their budgets.

iii)              To propose solutions to identified gaps.

 

The study revealed startling findings including:

a)     What Council Authorities say that they do in terms of GRB is not what is practiced especially in the domains of the budget process and stakeholder consultations.

b)    Councils do not have Gender Disaggregated Data on planning, implementation, monitoring & evaluation of council activities. Basic Gender information is limited to support for Women Day, Labour Day, Youth Holiday Employment, scholarships activities.

c)     Council staff do not master the skills to engender the budget (the Mayor’s Action Plan is usually gender blind, female councillors do not raise gender issues during committee deliberations).

d)    Key collaborators / partners of the council (Ministry of Women Affairs & the Family (MINPROFF), Ministry of Planning & Regional Development (MINEPAT), Ministry of Social Affairs (MINAS), the National Community Driven Development Program (PNDP) do not insist on Gender Aggregation for council activities. They either lack the knowledge or do not possess the courage and the will. They might even be gender blind.

e)     Beneficiaries of council activities (men, women, youth, widows, persons living with disabilities) are either unaware or nonchalant on the need to track and insist on inclusive council activities.

Toward a Gender Policy in Local Councils?

v Proposed Suggestions :

1)    Create & Support Functional Women Foundations for Change toward the Council Budgetary Process in all municipalities within the region. These foundations will sustain the sensitization of the population and maintain regular advocacy for GRB in councils.

2)    Hold regular consultations (may be quarterly) between the Council Executive, the Secretaries General, the Municipal Treasurers, and executives of Women Foundation for Change. The objectives will centre on joint planning, review and evaluation of GRB in councils.

3)    Create & maintain a data base on Council Funding for Gender Equality in each council.

4)    Develop a Draft Gender Policy for Local Councils & submit to competent organizations such as UN Women, MINPROFF and others for deliberations and ultimate submission to the House of Senate for adoption.

MUDEC Group is poised to stimulate this process, the financial support from UN Women will go a long way to maintain this stimulus but all stakeholders in the business of local government in Cameroon must put hands on deck. This will be realized especially as we draw nearer toward the magic 2015 for the MDG no 3. Join us … will you?

By Miss Theodora Nong (B.Sc. Sociology & Anthropology). May 2013.

Research Assistant, MUDEC Group. Buea

 

 

Putting the GRB Agenda on the Council Menu.

The National Policy on Decentralization has taken an irreversible trend geared towards the transfer of competencies and resources to local authorities. The first step in this direction was engaged in 2010 with the transfer of resources to local councils in the country. In this light, Local Authorities (LA) are finding it increasingly necessary to empower communities or Non State Actors (NSA) such that the latter can effectively participate and take ownership of their development efforts. Within this framework of decentralization, municipal councils must implement strategies for decentralized cooperation with various development actors with the intention to increase aspects of local governance relating to participation, responsiveness, accountability and ownership. The Municipal Development Counselling (MUDEC) Group which is a Local Support Organization based in Buea is calling upon to the electorate to reflect on some basic facts on national life.

 

In a few weeks (Sept 30th 2013), Cameroonians will go to the polls to select councillors, Mayors and Parliamentarians in a customarily unlevelled political field. Is the electorate actually focused on pertinent issues which must be addressed by those wishing to be elected or are the ‘Elites’ using these elections to settle scores or reward their allies and friends at the local level? Local candidates have been dictated by so called big wigs in  Yaoundé yet we pay lip service to decentralization.

Despite the intense and numerous complaints from the population and even from political aspirants, Cameroonians seem to be in bondage as they cannot boycott these political masquerades. This beats the imaginations of level headed individuals.  By the way who actually thinks that Cameroonians are level headed or maybe stomach focused. All Cameroonians of voting age should think for a moment that information makes for better decision making. Gender Responsive Budgeting calls for disaggregated data in our municipalities. What will the aspirant for Mayor deliver to benefit the felt needs of the majority of the population within a municipality? What will the aspirant for Parliament (or better still the National Assembly.. since they only assemble and collect micro project funds) give the population of his or her constituency? Gender Responsive Budgeting at the municipal or national levels require that the electorate looks at the hard facts before 30th September and not vote either colour, emblems or personalities.

Cameroon in 2010 is estimated at about 18.2 million inhabitants with an annual average growth rate of 2.3%. Women and girls represent close to 52% of the population which is relatively young, with 44% aged under 15 (TBS2, 2010) and more than 55.7% aged under 25 (EDS-III, 2010). Older people (65 years and above), who constitute more than 60% of the ruling class represent only 3% of the population (EESI, 2010).

In spite of the achievements and efforts recorded in the last few years, the indicator levels for human and monetary poverty remain worrying and show huge disparities between the sexes. The rate of unemployment according to the ILO stood at 34.4% as registered in 2010 (34.2% unemployment for men and 54.6% for women). Underemployment (estimated at more than 75%, with 87% in the informal agricultural sector and 65% in the non–agricultural urban sector) remains a scourge. Underemployment rate is 68.3% for men and 83.6% for women in active service. On average, women earn half of what men earn in the informal sector. Disparities still exist and are maintained between men and women in areas such as health, education, access to water and political participation. The low level of education of women and the negative influence of some socio–cultural factors limit their participation in national economic and political life. The economic evolution of the country has increased disparities between social and family groups by reinforcing the degree of precariousness of certain vulnerable social groups. Cameroon is a signatory to several international conventions including the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Maputo Protocol and the Millennium Development Goals (especially to promote gender equality and empower women) which were localized in 2003 through the elaboration of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the 22nd of July 2004 Law on Decentralization which mandates local councils to alleviate poverty through the provision of basic services in the domains of education, healthcare, local economic development, culture, sports and leisure. Gender considerations are not highlighted in both the PRSP and the 2004 Law on Decentralization. The Cameroon Vision 2035 is to make Cameroon an emerging country unified in its diversity with the objective of attaining an economic growth of at least 10% per annum. To achieve its vision, the government has engaged in so many reforms including more stringent management of public finances, decentralization at regional and local levels, results based management, public service and governance reforms and the fight against corruption. This vision cannot be attained without the effective mainstreaming of gender. It is within this framework that the government requested and obtained technical assistance to mainstream gender in the revised PRSP.  The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MINATD) requested and received an increase in its budget to enable the transfer of funds to local councils. This means that councils will be able to experiment with a range of participatory strategies on the delivery of basic services to their population.

Within the framework of the execution of the National Community Driven Development Program (PNDP), 25 Councils in the South West (in 2012) elaborated  Communal Development Plans (CDP) which can be subdivided into two 3 year long Mid Term Expenditure Frameworks (MITEF) that runs until the year 2017.  It is from the current MITEF (2012 to 2014) that the council elaborated and adopted the current Annual Investment Plan (AIP or Budget). These three very important documents (CDP, MITEF and AIP) which together constitute the roadmap for the participatory development of our municipalities are gender blind. A quick review of the village by village and sector by sector analysis found in the consolidated diagnosis reports of our municipalities reveal that the top prioritized sectors include water, energy, health, education, commerce, social and culture.

While these sectors represent the most felt needs within the council area, they do not specifically address issues pertinent to men, women, youth and other minorities. The problem is that council staffs responsible for drafting the budget lack the necessary skills to draw up, execute and monitor performance budgets. Furthermore, beneficiary groups also do not possess the required basic knowledge on the council budget process.

Gender Responsive Budgeting in Local Councils will promote planned and sustainable development in our municipalities; promote positive relationships between the council and all Government Technical Services in our council areas and ensure the participation of all residents in council funded activities.

Gender Responsive Governance (Understanding & Expectations)

 

  • Elected Officials should cater for the needs of all persons equally.
  • All markets, bars and public places should have clean, well maintained toilet facilities.
  • Women & youth should have equal access to farm inputs from government.
  • Women & youth should be represented in the management of all farmer associations.
  • Equal access to health care.
  • More attention should be given to pregnant women, widows and the vulnerable within society
  • Hospitals should have rails to transport persons living with disability including the elderly.
  • Institute quota system in employment so as to bridge the gaps of long history of discrimination.
  • Equal access to education and Say No to marks for sex!
  • All programs executed by the state & Council should have performance (measurable) indicators.
  • Men, women & youth should be consulted before, during and after each investment.
  • Council Authorities & WOFOC should constitute a TFC for …….
  • A press conference should be instituted for all local councils to regularly communicate with the population. Information is power! GR Governance means more informed electorate.

First Quarter Summary Activity Report   (3/ 01 / 2013 to 5 / 31 / 2013).

Project Outputs Planned Activities Realized / Not Realized Variance Best Practices / Lessons Learnt / Challenges envisioned
Collect Data from Pilot Councils Collect information on the execution of Municipal Decisions bearing on GRB Realized XXX A few Council officials uncomfortable during Frank & direct discussions.
Collect data on council financing for Gender Equality Realized XXX Focus group discussions created tensions and conflicts between State and Non State actors relative to inclusive participation within the  budget process
Identify Gaps & Challenges Realized XXX
Propose Solutions Realized XXX
Organize Workshop on GRB Frameworks Identify participants Realized XXX
Solicit Competent Trainers Realized XXX
Organize training Realized XXX Meetings are  innovative, results oriented, full participation & information generating
Report on training Realized XXX
Media coverage of training Realized XXX
Support Focal CSO Manifestations Print and produce supporting gadgets Realized XXX Support the design, collection and analysis of gender desegregated data at the local level to support participatory development planning and monitoring and evaluation of local initiatives
Prepare Memorandums of Understanding and coaching guides Realized XXX Support the design and implementation of gender budgeting in local development planning processes
Visit and Improve the functioning of Women Foundations for Change Realized XXX Support gender sensitive analysis, gender budgeting and women’s empowerment in local development processes
Coach on the Council Budget Process and strategies for engendering same Realized XXX Support the design, collection and analysis of gender desegregated data in councils.

   Provide advice and support to local councils to ensure the full participation of women in policy consultation, policy development and policy review processes.   Support the Ministry of Women’s affairs & the Family and the Ministry of Territorial Administration & Decentralization to effectively plan, advocate for and implement gender sensitive perspectives, effective advocacy and initiatives to empower women and increase their participation in governance.   Develop guidance & training on gender mainstreaming for local authorities   Support mainstreaming of gender perspectives in the planning and implementation of all project activitiesProject Communication & Visibility Issue Press ReleasesRealizedXXXHeightened Interests of  stakeholders and the entire populationPublish Newspaper articlesRealizedXXXIntense Awareness createdTelevision coverageRealizedXXXIntense Awareness createdUpload events on websiteNot RealizedWill be executed during the next quarter Project AdministrationHold 2 coordination meetingsRealizedXXXMeetings are  innovative, results oriented, full participation & information generatingReport to partnersRealizedXXXNA

 

 

Second Quarter Summary Activity Report   (1st June 2013 to 31st August 2013).

Project Outputs Planned Activities Realized / Not Realized Variance Best Practices / Lessons Learnt / Challenges envisioned
Support Focal CSO Manifestations Prepare Memorandums of Understanding and coaching guides Realized XXX Support the design and implementation of gender budgeting in local development planning processes
Visit and Improve the functioning of Women Foundations for Change Realized XXX Support gender sensitive analysis, gender budgeting and women’s empowerment in local development processes
Coach on the Council Budget Process and strategies for engendering same Realized XXX Support the design, collection and analysis of gender desegregated data in councils.

   Provide advice and support to local councils to ensure the full participation of women in policy consultation, policy development and policy review processes.   Support the Ministry of Women’s affairs & the Family and the Ministry of Territorial Administration & Decentralization to effectively plan, advocate for and implement gender sensitive perspectives, effective advocacy and initiatives to empower women and increase their participation in governance.   Develop guidance & training on gender mainstreaming for local authorities   Support mainstreaming of gender perspectives in the planning and implementation of all project activitiesProject Communication & Visibility Issue Press ReleasesOngoingXXXHeightened Interests of  stakeholders and the entire populationPublish Newspaper articlesOngoingXXXIntense Awareness createdTelevision coverageOngoingXXXIntense Awareness createdUpload events on websiteOngoingXXX Project AdministrationHold 2 coordination meetingsRealizedXXXMeetings are  innovative, results oriented, full participation & information generatingReport to partnersOngoingXXXNA

 

 

 


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