Maroua, Cameroon, 14 August 2018—A total of 30 municipalities in northern Cameroon, a region badly affected by the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram, have joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, being part of the 9,000 member strong grouping.

Because of the activities of Boko Haram, all development interventions in the region were stopped. This region is seriously affected by climate change. Boko Haram was formed in 2002 in Nigeria and with the main objective of fighting any form of westernisation. It has since spread, and its influence is felt in as far as Chad and Cameroon.

Adding to the woes of these municipalities, major lakes – like Lake Chad - and rivers are drying gradually making livelihood almost impossible. Thousands of emerging towns are without modern energy, and the population still rely on firewood for cooking. It is against this background that 30 municipalities expressed their interest in joining the Covenant of Mayors Sub Sahara Africa (CoMSSA) to share their experiences and seek for lasting solutions to address their poor energy access and climate change at a recent workshop held in Maroua.

This sensitisation workshop was a follow-up of another meeting held in Kribi 4th -5th July 2018, on the request to UN-Habitat to the Cameroonian government made during the Ninth Session of World Urban Forum held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February 2018. At WUF9, the director general of Special Council Support Fund for Mutual Assistance, better known by its French acronym FEICOM, Mr. Philippe Camille Akoa requested UN-Habitat to jointly organise a sensitisation workshop with Cameroonian’s mayors on the importance of joining the Global Covenant of Mayor for climate and energy.

During the Maroua workshop, held with technical support from the consortium S2 Services Sarl (Private Sector) and Help Community (Civil Society Organisation), 26 municipalities handed in their pre-registration forms to join the COMSSA, the remaining 4 municipalities promised to send their registration forms after full consultation of their council members. They also promised to held council meetings by September 2018 to fully join the Global Covenant of Mayors (GcoM) as members.

Speaking during the occasion, the Mayor of Pette Mr. Bouba Hamadou said: Only three out of 120 villages – of the municipality of Pette - have access to electricity… in the 117 villages, people live their whole life without knowing what electricity is… the temperature reached the record of 48°C last year during the dry season… with no trees left, strong winds have destroyed our schools and houses.

The 30 municipalities of the far north region represent 7% of the total area of Cameroon and  9%  (2.2 million) of the total population.

On his part, Mr. Sama Wendi, a council member for Kaï-Kaï said: Last year there was no rain and our farmers had nothing to harvest! This year, the rain is causing severe floods… but yet in a few month times, we will lack water again for farming and drinking.”

Despite handling insecurity and refugees’ movement in some of the municipalities, their representative recognized that climate change is a far bigger threat to their livelihood as the consequences are long felt.

“The Lake of Guere is drying out, food security is a big cause of concerned, forest is drastically disappearing gradually, there is no pasture left for our livestock, some animal species have completely disappeared,” said Mr. Moussa Guinitna, 1st Deputy Mayor of GUERE

Mr. Vincent Kitio, the Chief of the Urban Energy Unit of UN-Habitat, and advisory board member of the CoMSSA, made a ptresentation focusing on Uganda’s capital Kampala, the only East Africa city that has developed a sustainable energy action plan (SEACAP). He invited the mayors to join the over 9000 other municipalities from around the world with greater visibility. He emphasised the fact that having a comprehensive energy and climate action plan will help them prioritise their development interventions in a sustainable manner.

Experts from Sustainable Services S2 and Help Community informed the participants that they stand ready to provide any support and clarification if needed to ensure that all local government concerns on this initiative are addressed.