Unpinning Village Development in Cameroon: The Case of Bakingili Village

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2008

43 Pages



This paper sponsored by the German Development Service (DED) under the canopy, Programme for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (PSMNR) in the South-West of Cameroon, gives an overview of the state of village development in Bakingili, Cameroon and further expatiates on the desired goals and objectives of the villagers. Bakingilii shares a close boundary with the sea and the village has population of about 693 people. As concerns social infrastructure, there are 79 houses and the main livelihood activity in the village is farming. Due to the small the nature of the village, most of the information presented here is first hand. The goal is to provide information that can serve as spring-boards to young researchers. Base on the information gathered and analysed, it’s however deduced that the village lags behind in terms of rural development.

Keyword: Village Development, Livelihood, Bakingili, Cameroon


Bakingili village is situated at the southern part of the foot of Mt Cameroon and closely positioned to the boundary limits of the proposed Mt Cameroon National Park. It is located 22 km along the highway from Limbe going to Idenau. The village is however described as the gateway into the West Coast District. West Coast District according to the October 2008 Presidential Decree transforming Provinces to Regions, has now become the West Coast Sub Division, which shall be henceforth administered by a Divisional Officer. The village together with 5 other villages forms the Idenau Council Municipality which is under the control of an elected Mayor with headquarters at Idenau.

Bakingiliv shares a close boundary with the sea making maritime travelling in and out of the village very frequent. However, movement is predominantly by land because the road leading into the village is well paved reducing cost of transportation.

In terms of size, the village can be described as medium based on its population of about 693 people. Out of this figure 507 are those who reside permanently in the village and the other 186 are permanently out but periodically visit the village. The 693 individuals comprises of 337 females and 356 males. From this 247 are those between the ages of 0-15 years, 381 within 16-45 age brackets, 25 within the 46-59 age groups, while 25 are above 60 years. The proportion of female to male is 49:51(Household Census, 2008).

As concerns social infrastructure, there are 79 houses in the village, 12 of them constructed with cement blocks while 67 are of wood, six are uncompleted cement block houses. 38 of the houses have pit toilets; seven, the modern water cistern type and 34 without toilets. There are 5 churches, a police post, two primary schools, two hotels, three beer parlours and three provision stores (Household Census, 2008).

The main livelihood activity in the village is farming and crops cultivated in order of economic importance include oil palms, plantains, cassava, coco yams, maize, egusi, and vegetables. In addition to farming other alternative but less important economic activities are livestock rearing, fishing, hunting, petty trading, labour-providing initiative, palm wine tapping, commercial motor bike transportation and tourist guiding.

The climate of the village is highly influenced by the sea on one side and the mountain on the other. There are two distinct seasons - rainy and dry. Though the rainy season runs from March to October there is however regular down pour throughout the year (Besong et al., 1992). The village is however closely situated to Debunscha, and Debunscha village happens to be the wettest place in Africa and the second wettest place in the world after Charapunji in India (Roman and Leszek, 2006,).

Humidity remains high at 75 to 80% (Ambrose-Oji, 1997). Mean monthly air temperatures vary from 270 C to 350 C. The extreme rainfall gradient has a profound effect on vegetation types and plant growth. The mountain is a gigantic water catchment for most of the streams at lower altitudes.

The village is situated within the low land forest of Mt. Cameroon. The characteristic vegetation is evergreen forests with tall continuous canopy (25-35m) and large emergent trees (ENR, 1998). This characteristic feature is difficult to find anywhere in the village. This is the result of continuous opening of forest for large palm plantations by both individuals and the state-owned Cameroon Development Corporation. Though rare in numbers, tree species which could be found within village land are Mahogany (Khaya sp and Entandrophragma sp), Obeche (Triplochyton scleroxylon), Iroko (Chlorophora sp), Akon (Terminalia ivorensis), White Afara (T. superba), and Small Leaf (Piptadernistrum spp and Pterygota sp). They are left deliberately to serve as shade, provide manure through the fallen leaves and as source of timber and fuel wood. However few in numbers on community land, significant quantities of these tree species can still be found farther up the mountain. This is because of the difficulties associated with long distance to harvest substantial quantity.

The transition vegetation between the sea and the lowland forest known as mangrove vegetation is facing tremendous threat. The mangrove themselves serve as breeding grounds for fish and other aquatic organisms. The mangrove vegetation serves as source of fuel wood, area for hunting and as mobile toilets for the villagers. Mangrove land is continuously sold to individuals who intend to construct houses in future. This is evident from boundary pillars already planted on some of the plots.

Though threatened however these vegetation areas serve as home for different wildlife species including Elephants, Cimpanzee, Preuss’s guenon, Putty nose, Red ear, Blue duiker, Bay duiker, Bush buck, Civet cat, Grass cutter, Giant rat, Cussimanse mongoose and Pangolins.

Though the village is blessed to have received some development measures in the past, there are still a number of problems. The portable water system is not functioning properly due to the following reasons; the pressure is low and could not supply water to all the quarters, electricity bills for the water pump are too high and not often paid on time and the bottlenecks involved paying the bills (from the proprietor of SEME Beach Hotel to Idenau Council and finally to AES-SONEL). The villagers are also faced with the difficulties of evacuating farm produce into the village due to bad roads, not enough money to construct the community hall and low agriculture production as a result of undeveloped technical know-how for improved farming, crude method of food processing, poor fishing and livestock techniques.

There is uncontrolled cutting down of vegetation for establishment of large scale plantations, timber and for fuel wood. Poor land use planning (origin of shortage of land for farming) and poor knowledge on sustainable natural resources management are all having serious effect on the people.

All these necessitated PSMNR to request the services of a consultant assist the village prepare a development plan that shall serve as a tool for sustainable natural resources management and livelihood improvement.

The objectives of the mission were as follows:

-Assess the base situation of the community and analyze the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for development.
-Assist the villagers in finding solutions for Community Based Natural Resource Management strategies, activities to improve livelihood and smallerinfrastructure projects (demand driven).
-Assist the village in finding solutions for communal forest management activities.
-Prepare a VDP in a participatory manner and include the objectives of the PSMNR-SWP, as well as include a “Package” of priority projects forimplementation.

To realize these objectives, different participatory learning and teaching tools were used which include: informal and formal interviews, focus group discussion, village meetings, visualisation on brown sheets of paper, role play, interactive presentation, participatory observation, food path, priority ranking, participatory impact assessment, transect walk and review of existing literature.

The following chapters elaborate more on the findings (base situation), development problems and ranking, development strategies of the village and different community priority micro-projects for implementation.


2.1 Population (sex, age, ethnic group)

2.1.1 History and Ethnicity

Bakingili was founded by a man named Njani Monaga, who came from Bomana with two others. One of them went to Bokwango, and another went to Mbimbia. According to legend, Bakingili means “someone who comes and never goes back”. Three families presently make up Bakingili; Wo, Njungu, Wo, Nganga, and Wo, Ndana.

The main traditional meal is a mixture of kwacoco (a food made from coco yams), mbanga soup (source made from palm nuts) and enriched with plenty of smoked fish. The main languages spoken are Bomboko and Bakweri. History also holds that the Bakweris

originated from the Bombokos. The traditional secret societies are Mo Njuku, Mbaya, Wotama Ebolobolo and Liengu Liambe.

2.1.2 Age and sex ratio

Results from the house-to-house survey during the planning process revealed that there are 693 people in the village. Out of this figure 507 persons are those who reside permanently in the village and the other 186 lives permanently out but periodically visit the village. The 693 individuals comprise 337 females and 356 males. From this figure 247 are those between the ages of 0-15 years, 381 within 16-45 age brackets, 25 within the 46-59 age groups, while 25 are above 60 years. The proportion of female to male is 49:51.

Table 1: Population Structure for Bakingili

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field Work 2008

2.2 Village administration and institutions

Bakingili is administered by Chief Inoni Ephraim who also is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon. Due to his tight administrative schedule, his function as Chief is taken over by a regent known as John Elive. The administration of the regent chief is strongly supported by the Traditional Council (TC). Members of the TC are nominated by the village general assembly, which ensures that all the tribes are represented and cuts across age groups and gender. The executive council of the TC is then voted from the selected members. Members of the TC can stay as long as they are competent.

Other institutions in the village include; njangi groups, tribal groups, labour and income providing self helps initiatives etc. These groups are to cater for the social welfare of their members. Some of the groups include Bakingili Women Progressive CIG (farming), Bakingili Unity Farmers CIG (farming), Struggling Women CIG (farming/savings), Eru Farmers Group, Buyam Sellam Group (traders), Youth Group (farming), Bee farmers Group, Natural Resources Management CIG, Bakingili Women Association, North West Youths Association (farming/savings), Fish Smoking Women’s Group and the Vigilante Group (village watchdog). Christian groups also exist in the village, and churches include the Presbyterian Church, Full Gospel church, Apostolic church, Baptist church and the Catholic church.

2.3 Natural Resources Management Authorities

There is a Chief of Post for Forestry and Wildlife stationed at Idenau. At the village level, while the Bakingili Community Forest Management Committee (BACOFMAC CIG) is charged with the management of the community forest, the Natural Resources Management CIG (NRM-CIG) is responsible for locally managing wildlife. NRM-CIG was constituted by the former MCP Limbe project. The end of the project also saw the end of this

nice initiative. Apart from these committees, the village traditional council is charged with the overall supervision of resources exploitation in the village. Fees for exploitation of timber are both determined by these committees. A fee of between 7,000 – 10,000 FCFA is charged for a timber tree to be cut. This fee does not depend on the species and size. Fees paid to BACOFMAC for the exploitation of timber is directed to the TC for future development activities. Furthermore, community land can be acquired only after permission must have been granted by the Chief and TC.

2.4 Social amenities

The village has two each of a Government and Baptist Nursery and primary schools which are all functional. The government primary school was constructed in 2000 and handed in 2001 by the Cameroon Cement Production Company (CIMENCAM) as compensation for the 1999 Mt Cameroon volcanic eruption that affected the community. In its fight to improve computer technology among school children, the Government provided three computers which unfortunately are not functional. The school has 7 classrooms, 203 pupils, 8 government trained teachers and 2 temporal PTA teachers. There is also an office and a four room apartment for the head teacher. One of the classrooms serves as the nursery school which currently has 14 kids and a trained Government paid teacher. The Baptist nursery school has 12 kids and 1 teacher while its primary school has 3 classrooms, 44 pupils and 3 teachers (1 trained and 2 untrained).

There is a functional health centre in the village constructed by the government in 2005. It has 2 trained staff (the chief of post and a pharmacy attendant). The centre provides health services to the village and other neighbouring villages - Debunscha, Njonji and Isobe. Information documented from the health centre indicates that a majority of patients suffer from malaria and diarrhoea. STIs including syphilis and HIV/AIDS are also common. There is however regular HIV/AIDS campaign and voluntary screening tests going on in the health centre. In terms of health awareness, there is an average of 5 persons consulting per week.

The village piped-borne water project is supplied by a catchment situated some 2.5 km away from the village. Electricity-powered engine pumps water from the catchment to a reservoir tank located some 500 metres away from the village. Through gravity, water flows to 8 stand taps located throughout the village. Averagely, about 250,000 FCFA is spent on electricity bills per month. Thanks to the management of SEME Beach Hotel who pays these bills on behalf of the community. The bottlenecks involve in payment is quite complicated. First, the money has to be paid to Idenau council who then pays to AES Sonel in Limbe. Because of this complication, the village sometimes stay without water for close to three weeks due to untimely payment of bills. Another complication is the constant fall in water pressure leaving most of the taps standing ideally and not supplying water to all the quarters.

The village is also blessed with not just electricity supplied by AES-Sonel but street lights lit the village throughout the night. Additionally, the roads leading in and out of the village are well tarred.

There is a semi constructed market but not very functional. This was thanks to MOCAP who donated aluminium roofing sheets. The market is not functioning for two reasons; first sellers charge very high prices for their goods and secondly it is easier to transport and sell at higher pricess in urban markets located in Batoke, Limbe and Douala.

The Cameroon Telecommunication Company (CAMTEL) and the Cameroonian-based Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) are both involved in a joint venture to construct a Tele-centre in the village. On completion, the building shall provide telecommunication services (internet, photocopying, phone booth etc) to the community.

Table 2: Past and current development projects and partners involved

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field Work 2008

2.5 Time Line

It is absolutely necessary to find out about natural and artificial happenings which might have plagued the developmental efforts of the village in one way or the other. A better developmental plan considers this feature, so as to mitigate solvable calamities, and also take precautions towards uncontrollable ones, so as to protect developmental structures. A critical event which affected the villagers’ state of wellbeing was the mountain eruption of 1999, which caused lava to flow down to the village; displayed the villagers; damaged crops and reduced soil fertility (see Table 3). Also, between the end of 1997, and the beginning of 2008, a group of soldiers invaded and molested the villagers. Some people fled the village.

Table 3: Time Line

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field Work 2008

2.6 Historical Analysis

Looking into the present situation of the village, it is evident that population has greatly increased, compared to 30 years ago (Table 4). This increase in human population is attributed to the fertility of the soil which has enabled food self-sufficiency and also acted as source of

attraction to strangers. Many fresh springs have disappeared over the years. This is partly due to bad farming practice by the villagers and the recent 1999 lava flow which covered most of the springs. Similarly, crop production has reduced due to decreasing soil fertility and poor methods of cultivation.

Table 4: Trend Analysis Matrix

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Source: Field Work 2008

2.7 Social problems

The village water project does not provide enough services and people are yet to see the value of education as an important tool for development (see social amenities). There is shortage of land for farming and construction of houses for the present generation. This is a direct result of poor land use planning. Some private individuals own huge areas of land, some of them still to be developed. Though some parcel of land has been leased out by

CDC to the community, this may not solve the problem as long as a realistic community land use policy is not put in place. Self-help initiative for community development seems not to be properly developed. The top-down developmental approach in the past seems to be partly responsible for this deviation.

2.8 Sources and levels of income

Farming is the backbone of the economy. The major economic crops cultivated are plantains, oil palm and cassava (Table 5a). Put together for all income sources, the average household income per annum is estimated at 1,139,934.783 FCFA. This average falls within a range of 328,000 and 3,920,000 FCFA. Income from plantains alone contributes 25% (295,565 FCFA), while palm oil and cassava makes up another 24% (287,000 FCFA) and 15% (178,000 FCFA) respectively. Coco yams (3%) and maize (2%), though on a much lower scale, provides additional income. Though fishing contributes almost 10% of household economy, the activity is purely male dominated. Table 5b indicates other income sources but in which only a few people are involved in and these include palm nut milling, welding, timber sawing, sales of gin and petty trading.

Table 5a: Sources of Income for Bakingili village (above 100 persons)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field Work 2008

Table 5b: Sources of Income for Bakingili village (less than 5 persons)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field Work 2008

2.9 Expenses

Information documented for Bakingili revealed that household income is spent on feeding, education, health, bills (electricity, cabled television, rents, car fuelling), payment of farm labourers, clothing and payment of residence permit (Table 6). Averagely per household per annum, about 427,238 FCFA is on feeding; 357,857 FCFA on education; 243,235 FCFA on health; 182,915 FCFA on bills; 147,157 FCFA on payment of farm labourers and procurement of farm implements and chemicals; 140,000 FCFA on clothing and 105,000,FCFA on payment of residence permit.

Table 6: Expenses for Bakingili

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field Work 2008

2.10 Income and expenditure calendar

A calendar of income and expenditure for the village shows that people generate income throughout the year, though on different levels. Within the drier parts of the year (October to March), income is from palm oil, plantain and coco yams. By the early part of the rainy season (March to May) there is abundance of maize in the village, while fishing is carried out when the water level rises tremendously (June to

September). On the other hand, though money is spent on a daily basis, expenditure is higher during the months of January, September and December (Table 7). In September, more money is spent as parents buy school needs and pay school fees for their children. Christmas and New Year’s festivities also increase spending.

Table 7: Income and Expenditure Matrix for Bakingili

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field Work 2008


As earlier mentioned, the five most important revenue generating sources for the households are plantains, oil palm, cassava, coco yams and corn. However, fishing is tied to the culture of the people but does not contribute significantly to the majority of the household economy. The potentials for development and problems associated to each of these sources are discussed in details below.

3.1 Plantains

Both men and women are involved in plantain cultivation. The soil is quite suitable for plantain farming as it thrives all year round. The plant is perennial and do not need to be planted on yearly basis. However, new plants are regularly planted to expand the farms and replace the old and less productive ones. From Table 8, production has always witnessed fluctuation, rising and falling but has been averagely increased from 3,268 bunches in 2003 to 3,461 bunches in 2007. The problems associated with plantain production are persistent attack by a particular root maggot that renders the plant less firm in the soil, and easily blown down by wind. Secondly, the roads leading from the village are generally bad and large quantities of produce could not be transported to the village.

3.2 Oil palm

Though some females are involved in oil palm production, it is highly male dominated. The soil is well suitable for oil palm production. This could be seen from the very large individual and commercial CDC plantations in the area. Though it is highly productive and provides higher income to individuals, the crop demands large portions of land for maximum production. This however creates acute shortage of land in the village as there is a need to always expand the existing farms. Another problem associated with oil palm production is the lack of knowledge by farmers on how to select better and improved breed of seedlings. On the other hand, to increase profitability, palm nuts are processed into palm oil using very crude hand-operated method. A majority of the nuts harvested are sold to commercial palm oil processing mills located within the vicinity. While women who do not own farms also buy these nuts from farm owners and processed them locally. There are individuals who owned these local press in the village and regularly higher their services to other villagers who do not own these facilities.

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Unpinning Village Development in Cameroon: The Case of Bakingili Village
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Suinyuy Derrick Ngoran (Author), 2008, Unpinning Village Development in Cameroon: The Case of Bakingili Village, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/268072


  • guest on 2/17/2014

    It a great pleasure seeing young Cameroonians putting information at the disposal of others. I think it is a laudable effort and should highly welcome. Carry the banner further. We expect to see more of this initiative as depicts the reality of the pressing needs of our villages. Bravo Suinyuy

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