Yaounde, 28 March 2023 – CIFOR-ICRAF and UNHCR signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen the resilience of refugees and host communities, while preserving the sustainable management of forest resources in areas affected by forced displacement in Cameroon.
“Environmental degradation has become a major concern in refugee-hosting landscapes in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said CIFOR-ICRAF’s Country Coordinator Ann Degrande. “The daily subsistence of refugees relies heavily on forest and tree resources for fuelwood, construction, fruit and non-timber forest products as well as other environmental services. This exerts a lot of pressure on the already fragile ecosystems where most refugees are hosted.”
Said Richard Eba’a Atyi, CIFOR-ICRAF’s Regional Convener, “Targeting sustainable development and resilience at the level of a landscape by an Integrated Landscape Approach is increasingly being recognized as a viable approach to overcome sectorial gaps and find solutions through dialogue with actors at multiple levels.”
In Cameroon, CIFOR-ICRAF has demonstrated how tree growing can mitigate the environmental impact of displacement and develop sustainable wood fuel value chains and food security. However, it soon became apparent that the actions of a single organization could not solve the environmental and social problems related to population migration, given its complexity and scope. This led to the organisations combining their efforts, beginning in 2018 in the east of Cameroon as part of the implementation of the EU-funded Governing Multifunctional Landscapes (GML) project.
In October 2022, a new tool called Guidance for a Landscape Approach in Displacement Settings (GLADS), which outlines how an integrated landscape approach can be adapted for displacement or refugee settings, was launched. Developed in partnership with UNHCR Cameroon, the tool aims to guide stakeholders in building context-relevant understanding, inclusive approaches, continuous learning and outcomes towards sustainability and resilience in refugee hosting or displacement settings.
“The present MoU between our organizations thus reinforces the vision of our operations in refugee settings in order to jointly materialize actions and advocate for sustainable development and resilience in the landscape of the people we serve through an integrated landscape approach,” said UNHCR Representative in Cameroon Olivier Beer.
In order to achieve the sustainable development goals of zero hunger, good health and well-being, access to affordable and clean energy, and addressing climate change, UNHCR and CIFOR-ICRAF are also combining their efforts to mobilize resources for the enhancement of the livelihoods of refugees and members of the host community as well as the sustainable use of forests.
The first activities through the UNHCR and CIFOR-ICRAF partnership will be implemented in the Garoua-Boulai Subdivision in Cameroon’s East Region which is home to almost 64,000 Central African refugees. In order to develop and implement solutions that improve the management of natural resources, both organizations have committed to conducting participatory research so that communities may create futures for themselves and future generations.
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