Learner’s Submission: Decentralized Governance in Cameroon – The Case of Kumba

“Kumba is a city located in the southwest region of Cameroon. It has a population of about 166,331 and the most populated in its department. Since Cameroon has 10 regions, 58 divisions, 269 subdivision, 54 districts; Kumba falls under the Meme division and it’s the chief town in the Division. Since the 2004 law was passed on decentralization in Cameroon, there had been some major changes in Cameroon which also affected the town of Kumba. These major changes can be analyzed base on the things which has been done and things not yet implemented in the town of Kumba.

Things which has been done
Kumba has a government delegate appointed by the head of State who is in charge of overseeing the activities of the council and gives feedbacks to the president. Kumba at first had just one council which was known as the Kumba urban council. With the changes made on the level of the central government, the name was change to Kumba city council. Kumba has three councils; Kumba one council, Kumba two and Kumba three council. The Kumba city council is autonomous and makes her revenue form tax collection, aids and other contributions from the government. This is an impact of decentralized governance in the town of Kumba.

Based on the economic aspect, the Kumba locality has been able to develop cooperation with the private, public and foreign sectors for the development of Kumba. The first government delegate received foreign aids with which he joins with the resource of the council to restructure the town. The major changes which were been made were the construction of new market buildings for proper market delivery and goods purchasing. This aspect brought more trust to the local population who gave praise to the decentralized form of governance. The cleaning up of the town was made on a daily bases to ensure that, the effect of waste matters should not affect the local community. In this light, several vehicles to facilitate this service were provided by the central government in collaboration with the council and private sector. Community halls were also constructed. This is to facilitate the holding of meeting among the officials of the
central governments, local officials and the community leaders. Whenever important projects came up, the opinion of the community had to be considered, and their contribution had to be taken in to consideration. This aspect is to facilitate the participation of the local community in decisions taking.

One of the impact of decentralization which is also visible in the town of Kumba, is the fact that there are street lights every where. When you leave from the economic capital Douala to Kumba, the beauty of the road is clear and evident. When entering the town of Kumba, especially at night, the street lights are so bright and clear. The roads are well marked and the tares used on the road are first class. This was not the case of this town before.

The promotion of the creation of schools and vocational training centers are encouraged. There are several secondary and primary schools located in the area, and several vocational centres for training and developing the skills of community members. Although the above things have been done, there are still a lot of things which are still yet to be achieved.

Things not yet done
There are several things still yet to be done but just a few of them will be discussed. The human resource aspect has not been effective. There are limited human resource managers or personals in the area. Mostly, local officials play the role of human personals which are hardly effective. Most at times, this had lead to placing incompetent people where competency is needed. This aspect to an extent has slowed down some of the things which were to be done. Human resource has to do with a lot of capacity building. Most of the people are not trained personnel.

The absence of an official evaluation community made up of both the local community and officials is not yet visible. Individuals of low status or portfolio need to be brought to participate in the evaluation committee.

There is the need of more health centers in the area; there are more schools than health centers. If people are not healthy how can they work effectively? There is need for more health centres to cater for the health of the growing population.

There some areas where the roads leading toward the out skirt of Kumba which are deplorable and have no street lights. This area leads to the other subdivisions like Mbonge; it has no lighting system other than generator which is supplied to specific houses. These areas are poor and need also to be considering a priority.

The implementation of decentralization in local communities are processes which need time and resources, but on the other hand if priority needs are not attained to, like putting in place a human resource mechanism even in the local community, manifestation of the implementation could take longer then expected.” – Ngole Mbong Ice Lyle – Yaoundé, Cameroon

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