Spending time with the Baka, as we have both done over several years, is a humbling experience. This group of over 40,000 spread between the forests of Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and Gabon, practice hunting and foraging as a traditional livelihood. Through their long history in the Congo Basin they have accumulated and passed on extensive ecological knowledge and sophisticated cultural mechanisms of egalitarianism, sharing and human-nature conviviality.
In Cameroon, hunter-gatherers and mbororo constitute the largest groups of indigenous peoples. Cameroon voted in favor and adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, but has not yet ratified ILO Convention 169.
The Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon uses the indigenous and minority terms in its preamble. However, it is not clear who this refers to. However, with the evolution of international law, civil society and the government increasingly use the term indigenous to refer to indigenous peoples in Cameroon.
The Baka, Wodaabe and other indigenous peoples in Cameroon
0.4% of the total population of Cameroon are hunter-gatherers known as Bagyeli or Bakola, which is estimated to number some 4,000 people, the Baka, estimated at around 40,000, and the Bedzan, estimated at around 300 people . The Baka live in the eastern and southern regions of Cameroon. Bakola and Bagyeli live in an area of about 12,000 square kilometers in the south of the country, and the Bedzang live in the central region.
It is estimated that the Mbororo population living in Cameroon is more than 1 million people and represents approximately 12% of the population. The Mbororo live mainly along the borders with Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic. Three groups of Mbororo are found in Cameroon: the Wodaabe, the Jafun and the Galegi, popularly known as the Aku. The Kirdi communities live high in the Mandara mountain range, in northern Cameroon.
Progress: Political participation and recognition
Through their respective organizations, indigenous peoples participated in the activities of CISPAV (Committee of Suivi des Programs et Projets Impliquant les Poblations Autochtones Vulnérables). This committee was created by the Ministry of Social Affairs, and its objectives are the identification and centralization of needs for the socioeconomic inclusion of indigenous peoples, the evaluation of human, technical and financial resources available and necessary to implement the main development activities in favor of indigenous peoples: coordination and supervision of all programs within the different sectoral administrative bodies, NGOs and CSOs in favor of indigenous peoples: make proposals on how to improve all actions that can better serve the indigenous peoples indigenous peoples.
In 2017, all the laws that came under review that year, such as forest and wildlife laws, the law on land tenure and the pastoral code -to which indigenous peoples and civil society made important contributions- They are still pending approval.
In 2018, with the creation of the Platform of Indigenous Peoples and the REDD + process, indigenous peoples will be able to position themselves better and have a greater capacity for negotiation in the process to obtain benefits for their communities.
Cameroon’s population is just over 24 million. Although reliable statistics are difficult to find, a number of communities accounting for approximately 14% of the population self-identify as indigenous. These indigenous peoples include the hunter/gatherers (Pygmies), the Mbororo pastoralists and the Kirdi.
IWGIA has supported its partners in Cameroon to produce a background information paper to be used in relation with the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Cameroon on May 1. The UPR reviews the human rights records of each UN member state, with each state being assessed once every four-and-a-half years. States have the opportunity to present reports on steps they have taken to improve domestic human rights situations and how they have followed up on recommendations made at previous reviews.
Among Cameroon’s more than 20 million inhabitants, some communities self-identify as Indigenous. These include the hunter/gatherers (Pygmies), the Mbororo pastoralists and the Kirdi.
UN International Day of Indigenous Peoples was celebrated in Cameroon, where the government has begun to recognize the existence of indigenous peoples in the country.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the second and third reports of Cameroon on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/CMR/2-3) at its 41st to 43rd meeting (E/C.12/2011/SR.41 à 43), held on 21 and 22 November 2011.