Conservation of Bakassi Peninsula Mangrove Ecosystem

Project Focus: Community Development, environment protection and mitigation of climate change phenomena.
Estimated cost:
1 Million Euros
Still to be raised

Project Goal

To contribute towards biodiversity conservation that ensures the availability of marine resources in the long-term and curbs the impact of climate change phenomena.

Project Objectives

  • To strengthen the capacities of formal and informal institutions in environmental protection through afforestation and the use of modern ovens in drying fish.
  • To strengthen fishing communities into organized functional groups
  • To provide permanent and mobile storage facilities for fish products and market outlets

The objectives of this project are in line with the Cameroon Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (GESP), successor to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), as well as the Forest Environment Sector Programme (FESP), and the government’s Bakassi development blueprint more specifically.

Project Concept and Rationale

The environmental problems of the Bakassi area are the unsustainable felling of mangrove trees for fuel wood and timber, and the disorganized and wasteful harvesting of aquatic live forms, the use of dynamites, cyanide, and non-homologated nets for fishing. The use of fuel wood to smoke fish, poor hygiene and sanitation conditions of the communities, poor waste disposal, high rate of illiteracy and inadequate information on environmental issues.

These problems are associated with the following risks: the destruction of the mangrove ecosystem and thereby its biodiversity, the depletion of aquatic live forms and its biodiversity, food chain contamination, water pollution and indiscriminate loss of aquatic biodiversity (irrational harvesting, loss of endangered and endemic species, drop in fish population, drop in household income levels), pollution from the excessive emission of carbon gases (CO2, CO, etc) that contribute to respiratory-related diseases, the depletion of the ozone layer and global warming thus climate change, pollution of surface water, loss of aquatic and mangrove life. Increase in disease load burden, decrease in life expectancy in the community. Frequent contamination of ground water, the spread of communicable diseases and flooding and persistent use of unfriendly environmental practices.

So far in Cameroon, the development process has been determined largely by the Government and external agencies without much input from local communities. Communities are however willing to contribute to the development process, if they are made aware of opportunities, and given the authority, training and responsibility to do so. In general people are willing to contribute time/labor, cash and kind for village development and hence increasing incomes, establishing social infrastructure and monitoring its proper use.

The prevailing government strategy recognizes the weak instititutional capacity of the rural sector, the need to decentralize development planning and action, privatize production and commercial activities and empower communities to contribute to and manage their own development. The policy structure is therefore conducive to community- demand driven development that is based on participatory planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development programmes.


Politically, the Bakassi Peninsula in the past decade has been a conflict zone claimed belligerently both by Cameroon and Nigeria. However, Bakassi is now fully Cameroonian following the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of 10 October 2002, which recognized full Cameroonian sovereignty over the disputed territory, and the Greentree Agreement of 12 October 2006 by which Cameroon and Nigeria solemnly undertook to implement the ICJ judgment in the interest of regional  peace and the well-being of the peoples of the two countries. Accordingly, the present project aims to contribute its modest development part to the consolidation of the political and social stabilization processes resulting from the Greentree Accord.

Geographically, the Bakassi Peninsula is a cluster of islands in the border zone of Cameroon and Nigeria in Ndian Division of the South West Region of Cameroon. It covers seven subdivisions notably: Bamuso, Ekondo Titi, Mundemba, Isangele, Kombo Abedimo, Kombo Itindi and Idabato.The main occupation of the people is fishing with little subsistence farming across five main islands. In this area, the availability of marine resources is directly related to the health and integrity of the coastal zone ecosystem, which is made up of mangrove forests, estuaries, coral reefs, and open sea.

Economically, the main activity is fishing carried out mostly by outsiders and on a smaller scale by the indigenous population. Most of the fishing is done with the use of dynamites, gamaline, cyanide, and non-standardized nets. There is also the presence of big commercial fishing boats that fish in areas where they are supposedly not allowed to be. These commercial boats fish in traditional fishing waters only because the government does not do anything to support traditional claims to these areas or to enforce no-commercial-fishing limits.

Environmentally,  there is indiscriminate harvesting of mangroves trees to meet demand for fuelwood (smoking of fish), for building materials (housing construction) and for exportation as timber to neighboring countries, especially to Nigeria, leading to biodiversity loss. It is evident that the estuaries are very sensitive to pollution- both organic pollution, such as human waste, and inorganic pollution, such as pesticides. Poor hygiene and sanitation conditions of the communities leads to poor waste disposal thereby contaminating groundwater and endangering human health in this region.